The clinical phenotype of SDHC-associated hereditary paraganglioma syndrome (PGL3)

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2014 Aug;99(8):E1482-6. doi: 10.1210/jc.2013-3853. Epub 2014 Apr 23.


Context: Mutations in the genes encoding subunits of the succinate dehydrogenase complex cause hereditary paraganglioma syndromes. Although the phenotypes associated with the more commonly mutated genes, SDHB and SDHD, are well described, less is known about SDHC-associated paragangliomas.

Objective: To describe functionality, penetrance, number of primary tumors, biological behavior, and location of paragangliomas associated with SDHC mutations.

Design: Families with an SDHC mutation were identified through a large cancer genetics registry. A retrospective chart review was conducted with a focus on patient and tumor characteristics. In addition, clinical reports on SDHC-related paragangliomas were identified in the medical literature to further define the phenotype and compare findings.

Setting: A cancer genetics clinic and registry at a tertiary referral center.

Patients: Eight index patients with SDHC-related paraganglioma were identified.

Results: Three of the eight index patients had mediastinal paraganglioma and four of the eight patients had more than one paraganglioma. Interestingly, the index patients were the only affected individuals in all families. When combining these index cases with reported cases in the medical literature, the mediastinum is the second most common location for SDHC-related paraganglioma (10% of all tumors), occurring in up to 13% of patients.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest that thoracic paragangliomas are common in patients with SDHC mutations, and imaging of this area should be included in surveillance of mutation carriers. In addition, the absence of paragangliomas among at-risk relatives of SDHC mutation carriers suggests a less penetrant phenotype as compared to SDHB and SDHD mutations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Family
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Head and Neck Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mediastinal Neoplasms / epidemiology
  • Mediastinal Neoplasms / genetics*
  • Membrane Proteins / genetics*
  • Mutation
  • Neoplastic Syndromes, Hereditary / epidemiology
  • Neoplastic Syndromes, Hereditary / genetics*
  • Paraganglioma / epidemiology
  • Paraganglioma / genetics*
  • Penetrance
  • Phenotype
  • Registries / statistics & numerical data
  • Retrospective Studies
  • Syndrome
  • Young Adult


  • Membrane Proteins
  • SDHC protein, human

Supplementary concepts

  • Paragangliomas 3