Study objectives: Cystic fibrosis (CF) is one of the most common inherited diseases among whites. Since the cloning of the CF transmembrane conductance regulator (CFTR) gene, a number of studies have focused on associations between the genotype and phenotype in CF. This had led to the progressive identification of new groups of patients, including those who have mild lung disease and those who have normal sweat chloride values (< 60 mEq/L). The aim of the present work was to provide information on the genotype and the phenotypic characteristics of children with intermediate-range sweat chloride test results.
Patients and results: We focused on children referred to the pulmonary department for various types of pulmonary disease and who had several sweat chloride test results with median values in the range of 40 to 60 mEq/L. Twenty-four patients over a 10-year period were enrolled (mean age, 4.8 years). Respiratory manifestations at initial evaluation included recurrent bronchitis, wheezing, chronic cough, and pneumonia. The duration of the follow-up ranged from 0.5 to 10.5 years. Sputum cultures revealed the presence of Haemophilus influenzae (10 children), Staphylococcus aureus (4 children), and Pseudomonas aeruginosa (3 children). Pancreatic insufficiency was found in two patients. Analysis of the entire coding sequence allowed identification of 16 known mutations in CFTR gene. Fifteen chromosomes (31.2%) carried a mutation in CFTR gene and one allele carried two mutations. Three patients were homozygous or double heterozygous (DeltaF508/DeltaF508, DeltaF508/3849 + 10 kb C-->T, S1235R/G551D). The 5-thymidine allele was identified in four children.
Conclusion: These results indicate an higher frequency of CFTR gene mutations in patients with borderline sweat chloride test results, compared to data reported in the general population. They lead to the recommendations for complete pulmonary and GI investigations in this group of patients, as well as assiduous care and medical follow-up.