JLR Patient-Oriented and Epidemiological Research
- Severe hypertriglyceridemia (HTG) is a relatively common form of dyslipidemia with a complex pathophysiology and serious health complications. HTG can develop in the presence of rare genetic factors disrupting genes involved in the triglyceride (TG) metabolic pathway, including large-scale copy-number variants (CNVs). Improvements in next-generation sequencing technologies and bioinformatic analyses have better allowed assessment of CNVs as possible causes of or contributors to severe HTG. We screened targeted sequencing data of 632 patients with severe HTG and identified partial deletions of the LPL gene, encoding the central enzyme involved in the metabolism of TG-rich lipoproteins, in four individuals (0.63%).
- Cerebrotendinous xanthomatosis (CTX) is a progressive metabolic leukodystrophy. Early identification and treatment from birth onward effectively provides a functional cure, but diagnosis is often delayed. We conducted a pilot study using a two-tier test for CTX to screen archived newborn dried bloodspots (DBSs) or samples collected prospectively from a high-risk Israeli newborn population. All DBS samples were analyzed with flow injection analysis (FIA)-MS/MS, and 5% of samples were analyzed with LC-MS/MS.
- Human blood is a self-regenerating lipid-rich biological fluid that is routinely collected in hospital settings. The inventory of lipid molecules found in blood plasma (plasma lipidome) offers insights into individual metabolism and physiology in health and disease. Disturbances in the plasma lipidome also occur in conditions that are not directly linked to lipid metabolism; therefore, plasma lipidomics based on MS is an emerging tool in an array of clinical diagnostics and disease management. However, challenges exist in the translation of such lipidomic data to clinical applications.
- Copy-number variations (CNVs) have been studied in the context of familial hypercholesterolemia but have not yet been evaluated in patients with extreme levels of HDL cholesterol. We evaluated targeted, next-generation sequencing data from patients with very low levels of HDL cholesterol (i.e., hypoalphalipoproteinemia) with the VarSeq-CNV® caller algorithm to screen for CNVs that disrupted the ABCA1, LCAT, or APOA1 genes. In four individuals, we found three unique deletions in ABCA1: a heterozygous deletion of exon 4, a heterozygous deletion that spanned exons 8 to 31, and a heterozygous deletion of the entire ABCA1 gene.
- Familial hypercholesterolemia (FH) is a heritable condition of severely elevated LDL cholesterol, caused predominantly by autosomal codominant mutations in the LDL receptor gene (LDLR). In providing a molecular diagnosis for FH, the current procedure often includes targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS) panels for the detection of small-scale DNA variants, followed by multiplex ligation-dependent probe amplification (MLPA) in LDLR for the detection of whole-exon copy number variants (CNVs). The latter is essential because ∼10% of FH cases are attributed to CNVs in LDLR; accounting for them decreases false negative findings.
- A low level of HDL cholesterol (HDL-C) is a common clinical scenario and an important marker for increased cardiovascular risk. Many patients with very low or very high HDL-C have a rare mutation in one of several genes, but identification of the molecular abnormality in patients with extreme HDL-C is rarely performed in clinical practice. We investigated the accuracy and diagnostic yield of a targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS) assay for extreme levels of HDL-C. We developed a targeted NGS panel to capture the exons, intron/exon boundaries, and untranslated regions of 26 genes with highly penetrant effects on plasma lipid levels.
- The spectrum of nonalcoholic fatty liver disease (NAFLD) includes steatosis, nonalcoholic steatohepatitis (NASH), and cirrhosis. Recognition and timely diagnosis of these different stages, particularly NASH, is important for both potential reversibility and limitation of complications. Liver biopsy remains the clinical standard for definitive diagnosis. Diagnostic tools minimizing the need for invasive procedures or that add information to histologic data are important in novel management strategies for the growing epidemic of NAFLD.