Progression of liver disease and portal hypertension in dyskeratosis congenita and related telomere biology disorders

Hepatology. 2023 Dec 1;78(6):1777-1787. doi: 10.1097/HEP.0000000000000461. Epub 2023 May 16.


Background and aims: Dyskeratosis congenita (DC) and related telomere biology disorders (TBD) are characterized by very short telomeres and multisystem organ involvement including liver disease. Our study aimed to characterize baseline hepatic abnormalities in patients with DC/TBD and determine risk factors associated with liver disease progression.

Approach and results: A retrospective review was performed on a cohort of 58 patients (39 males) with DC/TBD who were prospectively evaluated at a single institute from 2002 to 2019. The median age at initial assessment was 18 (1.4-67.6) years, and median follow-up duration was 6 (1.4-8.2) years. Patients with autosomal or X-linked recessive inheritance and those with heterozygous TINF2 DC were significantly younger, predominantly male, and more likely to have DC-associated mucocutaneous triad features and severe bone marrow failure compared with autosomal dominant-non- TINF2 DC/TBD patients. Liver abnormality (defined at baseline assessment by laboratory and/or radiological findings) was present in 72.4% of patients with predominantly cholestatic pattern of liver enzyme elevation. Clinically significant liver disease and portal hypertension developed in 17.2% of patients during the 6-year follow-up; this progression was mainly seen in patients with recessive or TINF2 -associated DC. Significant risk factors associated with progression included the presence of pulmonary or vascular disease.

Conclusions: Our experience shows a high prevalence of cholestatic pattern of liver abnormality with progression to portal hypertension in patients with DC/TBD. Presence of pulmonary and/or vascular disease in patients with recessive or TINF2 DC was an important predictor of liver disease progression, suggesting the need for increased vigilance and monitoring for complications in these patients.

MeSH terms

  • Biology
  • Digestive System Diseases*
  • Disease Progression
  • Dyskeratosis Congenita* / complications
  • Dyskeratosis Congenita* / genetics
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypertension, Portal* / complications
  • Hypertension, Portal* / genetics
  • Male
  • Mutation
  • Telomerase* / genetics
  • Telomerase* / metabolism
  • Telomere / metabolism
  • Vascular Diseases* / complications


  • Telomerase

Supplementary concepts

  • Dyskeratosis Congenita, Autosomal Dominant