18 June 2019

Diagnosis of primary immunodeficiencies (PIDs) is complex and cumbersome yet important for the clinical management of the disease. Exome sequencing may provide a genetic diagnosis in a significant number of patients in a single genetic test.

Alexander Hoischen and Mihai Netea, theme Infectious diseases and global health, and colleagues, published their results in Genome Medicine.

In May 2013, they implemented exome sequencing in routine diagnostics for patients suffering from PIDs. This study reports the clinical utility and diagnostic yield for a heterogeneous group of 254 consecutively referred PID patients from 249 families. For the majority of patients, the clinical diagnosis was based on clinical criteria including rare and/or unusual severe bacterial, viral, or fungal infections, sometimes accompanied by autoimmune manifestations. Functional immune defects were interpreted in the context of aberrant immune cell populations, aberrant antibody levels, or combinations of these factors.

For 62 patients (24%), exome sequencing identified pathogenic variants in well-established PID genes. An exome-wide analysis diagnosed 10 additional patients (4%), providing diagnoses for 72 patients (28%) from 68 families altogether. The genetic diagnosis directly indicated novel treatment options for 25 patients that received a diagnosis (34%).

Exome sequencing as a first-tier test for PIDs granted a diagnosis for 28% of patients. Importantly, molecularly defined diagnoses indicated altered therapeutic options in 34% of cases. In addition, exome sequencing harbors advantages over gene panels as a truly generic test for all genetic diseases, including in silico extension of existing gene lists and re-analysis of existing data.

 

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