Background and objectives: The aim of the study, funded by the Italian Ministry of Health, was to identify the causative mutation in all known patients with hemophilia B in Italy.
Design and methods: Overall, 269 patients followed by 25 regional centers were considered in the study; after exclusion of the related individuals, 238 unrelated patients were analyzed (153 with severe, 59 with moderate and 26 with mild hemophilia B). Screening of the factor IX gene was performed using conformation sensitive gel electrophoresis (CSGE) followed by denaturing high performance liquid chromatography (dHPLC) or direct sequencing in negative cases, or by dHPLC/sequencing (36 cases).
Results: A mutation was identified in 236 of the 238 patients: 6 had large gene deletions (4 total and 2 partial), 14 small deletions, 1 combined deletion/insertion and 215 single nucleotide substitutions. A correlation was observed between the type of mutation and severity of hemophilia; however, a number of patients with the same genotype had varying severities of the disease. Eight of the 169 patients with severe hemophilia B (4.7%) developed inhibitors: 2 of these had a complete gene deletion, 1 had a large partial deletion (from exon A to part of exon H) while 5 had 3 different nonsense mutations. One patient with a nonsense mutation developed anaphylaxis. We also studied 65 families with hemophilia B involving 144 females (14 obligatory carriers, 85 carriers and 45 non-carriers) and performed 12 antenatal diagnoses.
Interpretation and conclusions: The data have been used to build the Italian mutation database to provide each family with knowledge of the disease-causing defect for genetic counseling. This Italian study confirms the marked heterogeneity of factor IX mutations in the population and the presence of a degree of genotype/phenotype discordance. The identification of the mutation can also be used to predict risk of inhibitor development.