Genetics and epidemiology of aniridia: Updated guidelines for genetic study

Arch Soc Esp Oftalmol (Engl Ed). 2021 Jul 6:S0365-6691(21)00124-6. doi: 10.1016/j.oftal.2021.02.002. Online ahead of print.
[Article in English, Spanish]


Aniridia is a panocular disease characterized by iris hypoplasia, accompanied by other ocular manifestations, with a high clinical variability and overlapping with different abnormalities of the anterior and posterior segment. This review focuses on the genetic features of this autosomal dominant pathology, which is caused by the haploinsufficiency of the PAX6 gene. Mutations causing premature stop codons are the most frequent among the wider mutational spectrum of PAX6, with more than 600 different mutations identified so far. Recent advances in next-generation sequencing (NGS) have increased the diagnostic yield in aniridia and contributed to elucidate new etiopathogenic mechanisms leading to PAX6 haploinsufficiency. Here, we also update good practices and recommendations to improve genetic testing and clinical management of aniridia using more cost-effective NGS analysis. Those new approaches also allow studying simultaneously both structural variants and point-mutations in PAX6 as well as other genes for differential diagnosis, simultaneously. Some patients with atypical phenotypes might present mutations in FOXC1 and PITX2, both genes causing a wide spectrum of anterior segment dysgenesis, or in ITPR1, which is responsible for a distinctive form of circumpupillary iris aplasia present in Gillespie syndrome, or other mutations in minor genes. Since aniridia can also associate extraocular anomalies, as it occurs in carriers of PAX6 and WT1 microdeletions leading to WAGR syndrome, genetic studies are crucial to assure a correct diagnosis and clinical management, besides allowing prenatal and preimplantational genetic testing in families.

Keywords: Aniridia; Diagnóstico genético; Genetic testing; NGS; Next-generation sequencing; PAX6; Secuenciación masiva; Síndrome de WAGR; WAGR syndrome.

Publication types

  • Review