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Genetic analysis of 37 cases with primary periodic paralysis in Chinese patients.

BACKGROUND: Primary periodic paralysis (PPP) is an inherited disorders of ion channel dysfunction characterized by recurrent episodes of flaccid muscle weakness, which can classified as hypokalemic (HypoPP), normokalemic (NormoPP), or hyperkalemic (HyperPP) according to the potassium level during the paralytic attacks. However, PPP is charactered by remarkable clinical and genetic heterogeneity, and the diagnosis of suspected patients is based on the characteristic clinical presentation then confirmed by genetic testing. At present, there are only limited cohort studies on PPP in the Chinese population.

RESULTS: We included 37 patients with a clinical diagnosis of PPP. Eleven (29.7%) patients were tested using a specific gene panel and 26 (70.3%) by the whole-exome sequencing (WES). Twenty-two cases had a genetic variant identified, representing a diagnostic rate of 59.5% (22/37). All the identified mutations were either in the SCN4A or the CACNA1S gene. The overall detection rate was comparable between the panel (54.5%: 6/11) and WES (61.5%: 16/26). The remaining patients unresolved through panel sequencing were further analyzed by WES, without the detection of any mutation. The novel atypical splicing variant c.2020-5G > A affects the normal splicing of the SCN4A mRNA, which was confirmed by minigene splicing assay. Among 21 patients with HypoPP, 15 patients were classified as HypoPP-2 with SCN4A variants, and 6 HypoPP-1 patients had CACNA1S variants.

CONCLUSIONS: Our results suggest that SCN4A alleles are the main cause in our cohort, with the remainder caused by CACNA1S alleles, which are the predominant cause in Europe and the United States. Additionally, this study identified 3 novel SCN4A and 2 novel CACNA1S variants, broadening the mutation spectrum of genes associated with PPP.

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