GH insensitivity (GHI) is characterised by short stature, IGF-1 deficiency and normal/elevated serum GH. IGF-1 insensitivity results in pre- and post-natal growth failure with normal/high IGF-1 levels. The prevalence of genetic defects is unknown.
To identify the underlying genetic diagnoses in a paediatric cohort with GH or IGF-1 insensitivity using candidate gene (CGS) and whole-exome sequencing (WES) and assess factors associated with the discovery of a genetic defect.
We undertook a prospective study of 132 patients with short stature and suspected GH or IGF-1 insensitivity referred to our centre for genetic analysis. 107 (96 GHI, 88 probands; 11 IGF-1 insensitivity, 9 probands) underwent CGS. WES was performed in those with no defined genetic aetiology following CGS.
A genetic diagnosis was discovered 38/107 (36%) patients (32% probands) by CGS. WES revealed 11 patients with genetic variants in genes known to cause short stature. A further 2 patients had hypomethylation in the H19/IGF2 region or mUPD7 consistent with Silver–Russell Syndrome (total with genetic diagnosis 51/107, 48% or 41/97, 42% probands). WES also identified homozygous putative variants in FANCA and PHKB in 2 patients. Low height SDS and consanguinity were highly predictive for identifying a genetic defect.
Comprehensive genetic testing confirms the genetic heterogeneity of GH/IGF-1 insensitivity and successfully identified the genetic aetiology in a significant proportion of cases. WES is rapid and may isolate genetic variants that have been missed by traditional clinically driven genetic testing. This emphasises the benefits of specialist diagnostic centres.