Background: Spondyloepiphyseal dysplasia congenita (SEDC) is an autosomal dominant skeletal dysplasia characterized by short stature, abnormal epiphyses, and flattened vertebral bodies. Secondary prevention of SEDC can be achieved by prenatal diagnosis. Reports of antenatally-diagnosed SEDC fetuses have been very rare and molecular prenatal diagnosis even rarer. We previously reported a familial G504S mutation in the type II collagen (COL2A1) gene resulting in SEDC. In this study, molecular prenatal diagnosis was performed to 2 couples in this family with pregnancies at risk for SEDC.
Methods: Amniotic fluid was sampled by amniocentesis under ultrasound guidance at 19+3 and 18+6 weeks' gestation, respectively. Karyotype and molecular genetic analysis were performed on cultured amniotic fluid cells. Maternal cell contamination was excluded by short tandem repeat (STR) analysis. Direct DNA sequencing and DHPLC were conducted to detect the potential mutation in exon 23 of COL2A1 gene. Both women underwent serial sonograms because they insisted that the molecular diagnosis should be confirmed by another method, although they had been informed that mutation analysis is predictive of the disease.
Results: Karyotype of both fetuses was normal and molecular genetic analysis revealed that fetus 1 carried a G504S mutation in exon 23, while fetus 2 was normal. In case 1, femur length of the fetus was markedly below the 5th centile at 23 weeks' gestation, which confirms the accuracy of molecular diagnosis. A medical termination was carried out at 27+5 weeks' gestation and a male fetus with a relatively large head and short limbs was delivered. The fetal radiograph demonstrated a number of features, including generalised platyspondyly, absent ossification of the vertebral bodies in the cervical region and significant shortening of the long bones. The diagnosis of SEDC was thus confirmed clinically. Ultrasound monitoring of fetus 2 showed that its femur length was normal for gestational age at repeated scans, which was consistent with the molecular diagnosis.
Conclusions: Molecular analysis allows early and accurate prenatal diagnosis for SEDC once mutation is known in a family. However, considering the poor genotype/phenotype correlation in many cases of SEDC, the combination of ultrasound as well as molecular genetic approach might be needed.