Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome in Chinese patients: a literature review of 120 families

Orphanet J Rare Dis. 2021 May 17;16(1):223. doi: 10.1186/s13023-021-01848-8.


Objective: To clarify the epidemiological and clinical features of Birt-Hogg-Dubé syndrome (BHDS) in Chinese patients.

Methods: We identified reports on Chinese patients with BHDS by searching the China Academic Journals Database, Wanfang Chinese Database, and PubMed databases, either in Chinese or English languages published from January 1, 2008 to December 31, 2020. Studies without sufficient clinical data were excluded and cases under 18 years old were excluded.

Results: Twenty papers were included and comprised 120 families with 221 cases. Most families with BHDS were reported from institutions in Beijing (66.7%) and Jiangsu Province (15.8%); 80.8% of cases were reported within the past five years. The average duration from clinical presentation to diagnosis was 9.6 years. The average age was 47.0 ± 13.9 years (range, 18-84 years) and the ratio of male to female was 1:1.6. The most common manifestations of BHDS were multiple pulmonary cysts (92.4%), spontaneous pneumothorax (71.0%), skin lesions (18.1%) and renal tumors (3.6%). Pulmonary cysts were predominantly distributed in the lower lobe on chest CT imaging. Family history of spontaneous pneumothorax was identified in 84.7% of the families and average number of pneumothoraxes was 1.8 (range, 1-6). The FLCN gene mutation c.1285dupC/delC in exon 11 was the most frequent mutation observed (17.4% of patients). The recurrence rate of pneumothorax after conservative treatment (including tube thoracostomy) was 29/41 (71%) while the pneumothorax recurred after surgical treatment (pulmonary bullectomy or pleurodesis) in only 4/37 (11%).

Conclusions: Although BHDS has been increasingly reported in the recent years, only minority of families were reported from institutions outside of Beijing and Jiangsu Province. The dominant clinical manifestations were pulmonary cysts associated with recurrent pneumothorax, while skin lesions and renal tumors were less commonly reported. Delayed diagnosis along with suboptimal management appear to represent critical challenges for Chinese patients with BHDS.

Keywords: Birt–Hogg–Dubé syndrome; FLCN gene; Pneumothorax; Renal tumor; Skin lesion.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Birt-Hogg-Dube Syndrome* / genetics
  • China / epidemiology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Language
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neoplasm Recurrence, Local
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins
  • Young Adult


  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins
  • Tumor Suppressor Proteins