Objective: Multiple endocrine neoplasia, type II (MEN-II) is an autosomal dominant disorder characterized by tumors of thyroid C cells and pheochromocytoma. Recently, germline mutations in the RET proto-oncogene have been identified in patients with MEN-II. The aims of this study were (1) to define the mutations in clinically diagnosed MEN-II families, (2) to compare the results of genetic and biochemical testing, and (3) to evaluate the impact of mutation analyses for the members of these families.
Design: Register-based survey study of clinically affected and unaffected members of MEN-II families.
Setting: Register of families from Germany and Spain with pheochromocytomas. Two research laboratories at Cambridge University in the United Kingdom.
Patients: We investigated consenting affected and unaffected members belonging to a series of 10 families who met the clinical criteria for MEN-II.
Main outcome measures: (1) Presence or absence of germline mutation in the RET proto-oncogene in affected and unaffected members of the 10 families, and (2) in the absence of RET mutation in a given family, presence or absence of germline mutation in the von Hippel-Lindau (VHL) gene, which is the susceptibility gene involved in a closely related syndrome, von Hippel-Lindau disease.
Results: In eight of these families, RET mutations were identified. The specific mutations were detected in all affected members. The remaining two families without RET mutations were subsequently shown to have a mutation within the VHL gene. The VHL mutations were identified in both families and represent a previously undescribed base change. After identification of the mutation, premorbid genetic testing was performed in all MEN-II and VHL families, resulting in detection of asymptomatic carriers in the MEN-II families. Clinically, the two VHL families differed from the eight MEN-II families by the presence of a C-cell tumor in only one individual from each family and extra-adrenal pheochromocytoma in three of nine affected individuals in the two families combined.
Conclusions: The diagnosis of MEN-II should be confirmed by molecular genetic analysis and the diagnosis of VHL syndrome should be considered for families with an absence of RET mutations and a preponderance of pheochromocytomas.