Chromosomal Microarrays: Understanding Genetics of Neurodevelopmental Disorders and Congenital Anomalies

J Pediatr Genet. 2017 Mar;6(1):42-50. doi: 10.1055/s-0036-1584306. Epub 2016 May 30.


Chromosomal microarray (CMA) testing, used to identify DNA copy number variations (CNVs), has helped advance knowledge about genetics of human neurodevelopmental disease and congenital anomalies. It has aided in discovering new CNV syndromes and uncovering disease genes. It has discovered CNVs that are not fully penetrant and/or cause a spectrum of phenotypes, including intellectual disability, autism, schizophrenia, and dysmorphisms. Such CNVs can pose challenges to genetic counseling. They also have helped increase knowledge of genetic risk factors for neurodevelopmental disease and raised awareness of possible shared etiologies among these variable phenotypes. Advances in CMA technology allow CNV identification at increasingly finer scales, improving detection of pathogenic changes, although these sometimes are difficult to distinguish from normal population variation. This paper confronts some of the challenges uncovered by CMA testing while reviewing advances in genetics and the clinical use of this test that has replaced standard karyotyping in most genetic evaluations.

Keywords: aCGH; copy number variation; microarray; microdeletion; microduplication; molecular cytogenetics.

Publication types

  • Review