Background: Vascular elasticity is crucial for maintaining hemodynamics. Molecular mechanisms involved in human elastogenesis are incompletely understood. We describe a syndrome of lethal arteriopathy associated with a novel, identical mutation in the fibulin 4 gene (FBLN4) in a unique cohort of infants from South India. Methods. Clinical characteristics, cardiovascular findings, outcomes and molecular genetics of twenty-two infants from a distinct population subgroup, presenting with characteristic arterial dilatation and tortuosity during the period August 2004 to June 2011 were studied. Results: Patients (11 males, 11 females) presented at median age of 1.5 months, belonging to unrelated families from identical ethno-geographical background; eight had a history of consanguinity. Cardiovascular features included aneurysmal dilatation, elongation, tortuosity and narrowing of the aorta, pulmonary artery and their branches. The phenotype included a variable combination of cutis laxa (52%), long philtrum-thin vermillion (90%), micrognathia (43%), hypertelorism (57%), prominent eyes (43%), sagging cheeks (43%), long slender digits (48%), and visible arterial pulsations (38%). Genetic studies revealed an identical c.608A > C (p. Asp203Ala) mutation in exon 7 of the FBLN4 gene in all 22 patients, homozygous in 21, and compound heterozygous in one patient with a p. Arg227Cys mutation in the same conserved cbEGF sequence. Homozygosity was lethal (17/21 died, median age 4 months). Isthmic hypoplasia (n = 9) correlated with early death (≤4 months). Conclusions: A lethal, genetic disorder characterized by severe deformation of elastic arteries, was linked to novel mutations in the FBLN4 gene. While describing a hitherto unreported syndrome in this population subgroup, this study emphasizes the critical role of fibulin-4 in human elastogenesis. © 2012 Kappanayil et al; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.
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Mai Kappanayil, Nampoothiri, Sb, Kannan, Rc, Renard, Md, Coucke, Pd, Malfait, Fd, Menon, Se, Ravindran, H. Kf, Kurup, Rg, Faiyaz-Ul-Haque, Mh, Kumar, Ka, and De Paepe, Ad, “Characterization of a distinct lethal arteriopathy syndrome in twenty-two infants associated with an identical, novel mutation in FBLN4 gene, confirms fibulin-4 as a critical determinant of human vascular elastogenesis”, Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases, vol. 7, 2012.