Prevalence of Germline Variants in a Large Cohort of Japanese Patients with Pheochromocytoma and/or Paraganglioma

Cancers (Basel). 2021 Aug 9;13(16):4014. doi: 10.3390/cancers13164014.


The high incidence of germline variants in pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma (PPGL) has been reported mainly in Europe, but not among Japanese populations in Asia. We aimed to study the prevalence of germline variants in Japanese PPGL patients and the genotype-phenotype correlation. We examined 370 PPGL probands, including 43 patients with family history and/or syndromic presentation and 327 patients with apparently sporadic (AS) presentation. Clinical data and blood samples were collected, and the seven major susceptibility genes (MAX, SDHB, SDHC, SDHD, TMEM127, VHL, and RET) were tested using Sanger sequencing. Overall, 120/370 (32.4%) patients had pathogenic or likely pathogenic variants, with 81/327 (24.8%) in AS presentation. SDHB was the most frequently mutated gene (57, 15.4%), followed by SDHD (27, 7.3%), and VHL (18, 4.9%). The incidence of metastatic PPGL was high in SDHB carriers (21/57, 36.8%). A few unique recurrent variants (SDHB c.137G>A and SDHB c.470delT) were detected in this Japanese cohort, highlighting ethnic differences. In summary, almost a quarter of patients with apparently sporadic PPGL in Japan harboured germline variants of the targeted genes. This study reinforces the recommendation in Western guidelines to perform genetic testing for PPGL and genotype-based clinical decision-making in the Japanese population.

Keywords: Japanese; SDHB; SDHD; VHL; genetics; germline variants; paraganglioma; pheochromocytoma.