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Cross-sectional study on autosomal recessive congenital ichthyoses: association of genotype with disease severity, phenotypic and ultrastructural features in 74 Italian patients.

BACKGROUND: Autosomal recessive congenital ichthyoses (ARCI) are a clinically heterogeneous group of keratinization disorders characterized by generalized skin scaling due to mutations in at least 12 genes. The aim of our study was to assess disease severity, phenotypic and ultrastructural features and to evaluate their association with genetic findings in ARCI patients.

METHODS: Clinical signs and symptoms, and disease severity were scored in a single-center series of patients with a genetic diagnosis of ARCI. Skin ultrastructural findings were reviewed.

RESULTS: Seventy-four consecutive patients (mean age 11.0 years, range 0.1-48.8) affected with lamellar ichthyosis (50/74, 67.5%), congenital ichthyosiform erythroderma (18/74, 24.3%), harlequin ichthyosis (two/74, 2.7%), and other minor ARCI subtypes (four/74, 5.4%) were enrolled. Mutated genes were: TGM1 in 18/74 (24.3%) patients, ALOX12B in 18/74 (24.3%), CYP4F22 in 12/74 (16.2%), ABCA12 in nine/74 (12.2%), ALOXE3 in seven/74 (9.5%), NIPAL4 in seven/74 (9.5%), and CERS3, PNPLA1 and SDR9C7 in one patient each (1.4%). Twenty-five previously undescribed mutations in the different ARCI causative genes, as well as two microduplications in TGM1, and two microdeletions in CYP4F22 and NIPAL4 were identified. The mean ichthyosis severity score in TGM1 and ABCA12-mutated patients was significantly higher than in all other mutated genes, while the lowest score was observed in CYP4F22-mutated patients. Alopecia, ectropion, and eclabium were significantly associated with TGM1 and ABCA12 mutations, and large, thick and brownish scales with TGM1 mutations. Among specific phenotypic features, psoriasis-like lesions as well as a trunk reticulate scale pattern and striated keratoderma were present in NIPAL4-mutated patients. Ultrastructural data available for 56 patients showed a 100% specificity of cholesterol clefts for TGM1-mutated cases, and revealed abnormal lamellar bodies in SDR9C7 and CERS3 patients.

CONCLUSION: Our study expands the phenotypic and genetic characterization of ARCI by the description of statistically significant associations between disease severity, specific clinical signs, and different mutated genes. Finally, we highlighted the presence of psoriasis-like lesions in NIPAL4-ARCI patients as a novel phenotypic feature with diagnostic and possible therapeutic implications.

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