Context: Mutations in TAC3 and TACR3 (encoding neurokinin B and its receptor) have been identified in Turkish patients with idiopathic hypogonadotropic hypogonadism (IHH), but broader populations have not yet been tested and genotype-phenotype correlations have not been established.
Objective: A broad cohort of normosmic IHH probands was screened for mutations in TAC3/TACR3 to evaluate the prevalence of such mutations and define the genotype/phenotype relationships.
Design and setting: The study consisted of sequencing of TAC3/TACR3, in vitro functional assays, and neuroendocrine phenotyping conducted in tertiary care centers worldwide.
Patients or other participants: 345 probands, 18 family members, and 292 controls were studied.
Intervention: Reproductive phenotypes throughout reproductive life and before and after therapy were examined.
Main outcome measure: Rare sequence variants in TAC3/TACR3 were detected.
Results: In TACR3, 19 probands harbored 13 distinct coding sequence rare nucleotide variants [three nonsense mutations, six nonsynonymous, four synonymous (one predicted to affect splicing)]. In TAC3, one homozygous single base pair deletion was identified, resulting in complete loss of the neurokinin B decapeptide. Phenotypic information was available on 16 males and seven females with coding sequence variants in TACR3/TAC3. Of the 16 males, 15 had microphallus; none of the females had spontaneous thelarche. Seven of the 16 males and five of the seven females were assessed after discontinuation of therapy; six of the seven males and four of the five females demonstrated evidence for reversibility of their hypogonadotropism.
Conclusions: Mutations in the neurokinin B pathway are relatively common as causes of hypogonadism. Although the neurokinin B pathway appears essential during early sexual development, its importance in sustaining the integrity of the hypothalamic-pituitary-gonadal axis appears attenuated over time.