An update on the biology and management of dyskeratosis congenita and related telomere biology disorders

Expert Rev Hematol. 2019 Dec;12(12):1037-1052. doi: 10.1080/17474086.2019.1662720. Epub 2019 Sep 10.


Introduction: Telomere biology disorders (TBDs) encompass a group of illnesses caused by germline mutations in genes regulating telomere maintenance, resulting in very short telomeres. Possible TBD manifestations range from complex multisystem disorders with onset in childhood such as dyskeratosis congenita (DC), Hoyeraal-Hreidarsson syndrome, Revesz syndrome and Coats plus to adults presenting with one or two DC-related features.Areas covered: The discovery of multiple genetic causes and inheritance patterns has led to the recognition of a spectrum of clinical features affecting multiple organ systems. Patients with DC and associated TBDs are at high risk of bone marrow failure, cancer, liver and pulmonary disease. Recently, vascular diseases, including pulmonary arteriovenous malformations and gastrointestinal telangiectasias, have been recognized as additional manifestations. Diagnostics include detection of very short leukocyte telomeres and germline genetic testing. Hematopoietic cell transplantation and lung transplantation are the only current therapeutic modalities but are complicated by numerous comorbidities. This review summarizes the pathophysiology underlying TBDs, associated clinical features, management recommendations and therapeutic options.Expert opinion: Understanding TBDs as complex, multisystem disorders with a heterogenous genetic background and diverse phenotypes, highlights the importance of clinical surveillance and the urgent need to develop new therapeutic strategies to improve health outcomes.

Keywords: Coats plus; Hoyeraal-Hreidarsson syndrome; Revesz syndrome; Telomere; bone marrow failure; cancer; dyskeratosis congenita; pulmonary fibrosis; telomere biology disorder.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Intramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Dyskeratosis Congenita* / diagnosis
  • Dyskeratosis Congenita* / genetics
  • Dyskeratosis Congenita* / metabolism
  • Dyskeratosis Congenita* / pathology
  • Germ-Line Mutation*
  • Humans
  • Telomere* / genetics
  • Telomere* / metabolism
  • Telomere* / pathology