Background: We observed a syndrome of intermittent fevers, early-onset lacunar strokes and other neurovascular manifestations, livedoid rash, hepatosplenomegaly, and systemic vasculopathy in three unrelated patients. We suspected a genetic cause because the disorder presented in early childhood.
Methods: We performed whole-exome sequencing in the initial three patients and their unaffected parents and candidate-gene sequencing in three patients with a similar phenotype, as well as two young siblings with polyarteritis nodosa and one patient with small-vessel vasculitis. Enzyme assays, immunoblotting, immunohistochemical testing, flow cytometry, and cytokine profiling were performed on samples from the patients. To study protein function, we used morpholino-mediated knockdowns in zebrafish and short hairpin RNA knockdowns in U937 cells cultured with human dermal endothelial cells.
Results: All nine patients carried recessively inherited mutations in CECR1 (cat eye syndrome chromosome region, candidate 1), encoding adenosine deaminase 2 (ADA2), that were predicted to be deleterious; these mutations were rare or absent in healthy controls. Six patients were compound heterozygous for eight CECR1 mutations, whereas the three patients with polyarteritis nodosa or small-vessel vasculitis were homozygous for the p.Gly47Arg mutation. Patients had a marked reduction in the levels of ADA2 and ADA2-specific enzyme activity in the blood. Skin, liver, and brain biopsies revealed vasculopathic changes characterized by compromised endothelial integrity, endothelial cellular activation, and inflammation. Knockdown of a zebrafish ADA2 homologue caused intracranial hemorrhages and neutropenia - phenotypes that were prevented by coinjection with nonmutated (but not with mutated) human CECR1. Monocytes from patients induced damage in cocultured endothelial-cell layers.
Conclusions: Loss-of-function mutations in CECR1 were associated with a spectrum of vascular and inflammatory phenotypes, ranging from early-onset recurrent stroke to systemic vasculopathy or vasculitis. (Funded by the National Institutes of Health Intramural Research Programs and others.).