Objective: To characterize both phenotypic (clinical features and magnetic resonance imaging [MRI] findings) and genotypic aspects of autosomal-dominant recurrent fever, also known as tumor necrosis factor receptor (TNFR)-associated periodic syndrome (TRAPS), in a French family and to investigate the role of the mutated 55-kd tumor necrosis factor alpha (TNFalpha) receptor (TNFR1) in the pathogenesis of the disease.
Methods: The coding region of TNFR1 was sequenced in 2 individuals with TRAPS (the propositus and her grandfather) and in 3 clinically unaffected relatives. Expression of soluble TNFR1 (sTNFR1) was investigated in 3 of the family members carrying a C30S mutation in TNFR1, and was compared with the levels of soluble TNFR2 (sTNFR2) by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay. The membrane TNFR1 expression was then compared with membrane TNFR2 levels at the surface of peripheral blood mononuclear cells by flow cytometric analysis. The clinical heterogeneity in this French family was investigated by searching polymorphic variants in the TNFalpha promoter by DNA sequencing.
Results: Both the disease course and the clinical presentation in the propositus were highly indicative of TRAPS. MRI study of the segmental inflammatory process in the limbs showed abnormal signals in the muscle and subcutaneous tissue without involvement of adjacent joints or fascia. A novel missense mutation, C30S, in the first extracellular N-terminal cysteine-rich domain (CRD1) of TNFR1 was characterized in the propositus, her affected grandfather, and her clinically unaffected father. Expression of membrane TNFR1 at the surface of monocytes and polymorphonuclear leukocytes, as well as the levels of sTNFR1 in serum when the disease was not active were not modified in the 3 individuals carrying the TNFR1 C30S mutation. In contrast, during attacks, sTNFR1 levels remained abnormally low, as compared with the levels in unrelated patients with active adult-onset systemic Still's disease. The clinical heterogeneity could not be explained by a polymorphic variant in the TNFalpha promoter.
Conclusion: TRAPS is a distinct clinical and radiologic disease entity that is responsible for recurrent fever and migratory cellulitis-like processes with localized myositis. We have identified a novel TNFR1 mutation, C30S, that is located in the CRD1 domain in a French family affected by the disease. This mutation seems to affect the level of sTNFR1, which did not increase in the propositus during inflammatory attacks.