The type of variants at the COL3A1 gene associates with the phenotype and severity of vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome

Eur J Hum Genet. 2015 Dec;23(12):1657-64. doi: 10.1038/ejhg.2015.32. Epub 2015 Mar 11.


Vascular Ehlers-Danlos syndrome (vEDS) is a rare and severe autosomal dominant disorder caused by variants at the COL3A1 gene. Clinical characteristics and course of disease of 215 molecularly proven patients (146 index cases and 69 relatives) were analysed. We found 126 distincts variants that were divided into five groups: (1) Glycine substitutions (n=71), (2) splice-site and in-frame insertions-deletions (n=36), (3) variants leading to haplo-insufficiency (n=7), (4) non-glycine missense variants within the triple helix (n=4 variants), and (5) non-glycine missense variants or in-frame insertions-deletions, in the N- or C-terminal part of the protein (n=8). Overall, our cohort confirmed the severity of the disease with a median age at first complication of 29 years (IQR 22-39), the most frequent being arterial (48%) and digestive (24%) ruptures. Groups 2 and 1 were significantly more severe than groups 3-5, with extreme median ages at first major complication of 23-47 years. Patients of groups 3-5 had a less typical phenotype and remarkably absence of digestive events. The distribution of glycine-replacing amino acids was strongly biased towards more destabilizing residues of the collagen assembly. Thus the natural course of vEDS and the clinical phenotype of patients are influenced by the type of COL3A1 variant. This study also confirms that patients with variants located in the C- and N-termini or leading to haplo-insufficiency have milder course of the disease and less prevalent diagnostic criteria. These findings may help refine diagnostic strategy, genetic counselling and clinical care.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Collagen Type III / genetics*
  • Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome / genetics*
  • Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome / pathology
  • Female
  • Gene Deletion*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation, Missense*
  • Phenotype*


  • COL3A1 protein, human
  • Collagen Type III