Further delineation of the Nijmegen breakage syndrome

Am J Med Genet. 1989 Mar;32(3):425-31. doi: 10.1002/ajmg.1320320332.


We report on five independent families with a chromosome instability disorder that earlier had been called the Nijmegen breakage syndrome (NBS). These families, two from the Netherlands and three from Czechoslovakia, had a total of eight patients, five of whom are still alive. The main clinical manifestations were microcephaly, short stature, a "bird-like" face, immunological defects involving both the humoral and cellular system. In four of the five living patients it has been possible to study the chromosomes of cultured lymphocytes. The basic karyotype in these patients were normal, but in 17% to 35% of the metaphases rearrangements were found, preferentially involving chromosomes 7 and/or 14 at the sites 7p13, 7q34, and 14q11. The chromosomes of all five living patients were very sensitive to ionizing radiation. In addition, the DNA synthesis in their cultured lymphocytes and fibroblasts was more resistant to X-rays than in cells from controls. The NBS shares a number of important features with ataxia telangiectasia (AT). Both syndromes are characterized by the occurrence of typical rearrangements of chromosomes 7 and/or 14, cellular and chromosomal hypersensitivity to X-irradiation, radioresistance of DNA replication and immunodeficiency. However, there are also obvious differences: NBS patients have microcephaly but neither ataxia nor telangiectasia, and in contrast to the situation in AT the alpha-fetoprotein level in their serum is normal.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Multiple / diagnosis*
  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Chromosome Aberrations / diagnosis*
  • Chromosome Disorders
  • Chromosomes / radiation effects
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 13
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 14*
  • Chromosomes, Human, Pair 7*
  • Cohort Studies
  • DNA Replication / radiation effects
  • Family Health
  • Female
  • Gene Rearrangement*
  • Genes, Recessive
  • Humans
  • Immunologic Deficiency Syndromes / diagnosis
  • Karyotyping
  • Male
  • Syndrome