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Genomic Analyses of Patients With Unexplained Early-Onset Scoliosis


Study Design

To test for rare genetic mutations, a cohort of patients with unexplained early-onset scoliosis (EOS) was screened using high-density microarray genotyping. A cohort of patients with adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) was similarly screened and the results were compared.

Summary of Background Data

Patients with scoliosis in infancy or early childhood (EOS) are at high risk for progressive deformity and associated problems including respiratory compromise. Early-onset scoliosis is frequently associated with genetic disorders but many patients present with nonspecific clinical features and without an associated diagnosis. The authors hypothesized that EOS in these patients may be caused by rare genetic mutations detectable by next-generation genomic methods.


The researchers identified 24 patients with unexplained EOS from pediatric orthopedic clinics. They genotyped them, along with 39 connecting family members, using the Illumina OmniExpress-12, version 1.0 beadchip. Resulting genotypes were analyzed for chro¬mosomal changes, specifically copy number variation and absence of heterozygosity. They screened 482 adolescent idiopathic scoliosis (AIS) patients and 744 healthy controls, who were similarly genotyped with the same beadchip, for chromosomal changes identified in the EOS cohort.


Copy number variation and absence of heterozygosity analyses revealed a genetic diagnosis of chromosome 15q24 microdeletion syndrome in 1 patient and maternal uniparental disomy of chromosome 14 in a second one. Prior genetic testing and clinical evaluations had been negative in both cases. A large novel chromosome 10 deletion was likely causal in a third EOS patient. These mutations identified in the EOS patients were absent in AIS patients and controls, and thus were not associated with AIS or found in asymptomatic individuals.


These data underscore the usefulness of updated genetic evaluations including high-density microarray-based genotyping and other next-generation methods in patients with unexplained EOS, even when prior genetic studies were negative. These data also suggest the intriguing possibility that other mutations detectable by whole genome sequencing, as well as epigenetic effects, await dis¬covery in the EOS population.

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Author information

Correspondence to Carol A. Wise phD.

Additional information

Author disclosures: XG (none); GG (none); KR (grant from Fondation Cotrel); CJ (personal fees from Medtronic; patents); SS (none); CAW (none).

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Gao, X., Gotway, G., Rathjen, K. et al. Genomic Analyses of Patients With Unexplained Early-Onset Scoliosis. Spine Deform 2, 324–332 (2014). https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jspd.2014.04.014

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  • Early-onset scoliosis
  • Microarray
  • Genotyping
  • Copy number variation