Pubertal delay can be the clinical presentation of both idiopathic hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (IHH) and self-limited delayed puberty (SLDP). Distinction between these conditions is a common but important diagnostic challenge in adolescents.
To assess whether gene panel testing can assist with clinical differential diagnosis and to allow accurate and timely management of delayed puberty patients.
Patients presenting with delayed puberty to UK Paediatric services, followed up to final diagnosis, were included. Whole-exome sequencing was analysed using a virtual panel of genes previously reported to cause either IHH or SLDP to identify rarely predicted deleterious variants. Deleterious variants were verified by in silico prediction tools. The correlation between clinical and genotype diagnosis was analysed.
Forty-six patients were included, 54% with a final clinical diagnosis of SLDP and 46% with IHH. Red flags signs of IHH were present in only three patients. Fifteen predicted deleterious variants in 12 genes were identified in 33% of the cohort, with most inherited in a heterozygous manner. A fair correlation between final clinical diagnosis and genotypic diagnosis was found. Panel testing was able to confirm a diagnosis of IHH in patients with pubertal delay. Genetic analysis identified three patients with IHH that had been previously diagnosed as SLDP.
This study supports the use of targeted exome sequencing in the clinical setting to aid the differential diagnosis between IHH and SLDP in adolescents presenting with pubertal delay. Genetic evaluation thus facilitates earlier and more precise diagnosis, allowing clinicians to direct treatment appropriately.