Establishing the Molecular Diagnoses in a Cohort of 291 Patients With Predominantly Antibody Deficiency by Targeted Next-Generation Sequencing: Experience From a Monocentric Study

Front Immunol. 2021 Dec 17;12:786516. doi: 10.3389/fimmu.2021.786516. eCollection 2021.


Predominantly antibody deficiencies (PAD) are a heterogeneous group of disorders characterized by dysfunctional antibody production, low immunoglobulin levels in serum and impaired vaccine responses. The clinical picture is variable, ranging from mild symptoms to severe complications, which may include autoimmunity, gastrointestinal disease, allergy, and malignancies. If left untreated, PAD patients are at risk of enduring disease progression, irreversible organ damage, and reduced life expectancy. A timely diagnosis has been shown to significantly improve disease prognosis. Here, we report on our experience using targeted gene panel sequencing by employing Agilent's HaloPlex or SureSelect and Illumina's MiSeq technologies in a cohort of 291 individuals who presented with low or absent immunoglobulin levels in combination with or without other clinical features. In total, we have detected over 57 novel or previously reported relevant mutations in ADA, ADA2, BTK, CTLA4, LRBA, NFKB1, NFKB2, PIK3CD, STAT3, and TNFRSF13B. Overall, a genetic diagnosis could be made in 24.7% of the investigated patients. The percentage of coverage for the targeted regions ranged from 90% to 98% in this study. Moreover, functional assays were performed on a defined group of the patients carrying candidate variants in CTLA4, LRBA, NFKB1 and BTK, which confirmed their deleterious effect on protein expression and/or function. This study reiterates that the immunological heterogeneity of predominantly antibody deficiencies may have a diverse genetic origin, although certain clinical features may hint towards a specific group of defects. Employing targeted sequencing panels proves to be a very time- and cost-efficient, yet reliable, method for the establishment of a genetic diagnosis in individuals with PAD. However, in case of negative panel results, or if functional testing reveals inconspicuous observations in patients with a clear indication for genetic testing, further work-up including whole exome or whole genome sequencing should be considered.

Keywords: common variable immunodeficiency; genetic diagnosis; hypogammaglobulinemia; next-generation sequencing (NGS); predominantly antibody deficiency; primary immunodeficiency; targeted gene panel sequencing.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't