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L Stavber, T Hovnik, P Kotnik, L Lovrečić, J Kovač, T Tesovnik, S Bertok, K Dovč, M Debeljak, T Battelino and M Avbelj Stefanija


Defining the underlying etiology of idiopathic short stature (ISS) improves the overall management of an individual.


To assess the frequency of pathogenic ACAN variants in selected individuals.


The single-center cohort study was conducted at a tertiary university children’s hospital. From 51 unrelated patients with ISS, the 16 probands aged between 3 and 18 years (12 females) with advanced bone age and/or autosomal dominant inheritance pattern of short stature were selected for the study. Fifteen family members of ACAN-positive probands were included. Exome sequencing was performed in all probands, and additional copy number variation (CNV) detection was applied in selected probands with a distinct ACAN-associated phenotype.


Systematic phenotyping of the study cohort yielded 37.5% (6/16) ACAN-positive probands, with all novel pathogenic variants, including a 6.082 kb large intragenic deletion, detected by array comparative genomic hybridization (array CGH) and exome data analysis. All variants were co-segregated with short stature phenotype, except in one family member with the intragenic deletion who had an unexpected growth pattern within the normal range (−0.5 SDS). One patient presented with otosclerosis, a sign not previously associated with aggrecanopathy.


ACAN pathogenic variants presented a common cause of familial ISS. The selection criteria used in our study were suggested for a personalized approach to genetic testing of the ACAN gene in clinical practice. Our results expanded the number of pathogenic ACAN variants, including the first intragenic deletion, and suggested CNV evaluation in patients with typical clinical features of aggrecanopathy as reasonable. Intra-familial phenotypic variability in growth patterns should be considered.