NPS is caused by heterozygous loss-of-function mutations of the LMX1B
gene, which encodes LMX1B, a member of the LIM-homeodomain family of transcription factors (11
) LMX1B contains two cystine-rich zinc-binding motifs (LIM-A and LIM-B domain), a homeodomain, and a carboxy terminal glutamine-rich and serine-rich domain. LIM domains are involved in interactions with other transcription factors and synergistic activation of transcription. The homeodomain is involved in DNA binding, and the carboxy terminal domain represents a transcriptional activation domain (12
). To date, 142 LMX1B
mutations have been identified and deposited in the Human Gene Mutation Database at the Institute of Medical Genetics in Cardiff (http://www.hgmd.cf.ac.uk/ac/index.php
). These include 80 missense/nonsense mutations and 16 abnormal splicing mutations. Among these 80 missense/nonsense mutations, 31 (38.8%) are located in the LIM-A domain, 15 (18.8%) in the LIM-B domain, and 30 (37.5%) in the homeodomain. In our study, no mutations were detected in the LIM-A domain.
LMX1B is required for a wide range of developmental processes including dorso-ventral patterning of the limb, differentiation of dopaminergic and serotonergic neurons, patterning of the skull, and normal development of the kidney and eye (1
). Accordingly, NPS shows variable phenotype with multi-organ involvement. Besides the classic clinical tetrad (dysplasia of the patellae, nails and elbows and the presence of iliac horns), other components of the musculoskeletal system such as muscle, tendons, and ligaments can be affected. In addition, other organs such as kidneys, eyes and possibly ears, the nervous system and the gastrointestinal tract can be affected as part of the syndrome (1
). Although NPS is a highly penetrant hereditary disorder, it shows marked inter- and intrafamilial phenotypic variability (4
). In this study, autosomal dominant inheritance was confirmed both phenotypically and genetically in 7 of the 9 families, while the remaining two patients had de novo mutations. In addition, although we did not identify a genotype-phenotype correlation, we did observe inter- and intrafamilial phenotypic variability.
Changes in the nails, which were detected in all of the patients in this study, are the most constant clinical features of NPS and are detected in almost all patients. These features may include the development of only the triangular lunulae, which is one of the pathognomonic signs of NPS (15
). Another common and sensitive sign of digital involvement is loss of DIP skin creases (4
), which was the only abnormality detected in mother of Patient 7 in this study. Knee involvement including typical patellar hypoplasia or aplasia is also very common, and 6 of 9 patients in this study visited the hospital due to symptoms associated with their knee joints. Elbow abnormalities including limitation of joint motion, hypoplasia of the radial head, and subluxation or dislocation of the radial heads can also occur with/without antecubital pterygia. Iliac horns are bilateral and conical bony processes that project postero-laterally from the central part of the iliac bones, are considered pathognomonic of NPS. A previously conducted review of NPS reported the following frequencies of symptoms associated with the disease: nail anomalies 95.1%, patellar involvement 92.7%, elbow dysplasia 92.5%, and iliac horns 70-80% (15
). Additionally, a British study of 123 NPS patients from 43 families reported that nail changes were detected in 98% of the patients, knee symptoms in 74% of the patients, elbow symptoms in 33% of the patients, and iliac horns in 68% of the patients (4
). The frequencies of the abnormalities observed in our study were similar to those observed in the British study.
The incidence of renal involvement in patients with NPS has been reported to be 12-62% (4
), which is comparable to the results observed in the present study (27%). The earliest sign of renal involvement in NPS is proteinuria with or without hematuria, which may remit spontaneously or progress to overt nephritis. Approximately 5-15% of all patients develop chronic renal failure (4
). Thus, renal involvement is one of the major prognostic factors of NPS. In spite of this, the factors responsible for the development and progression of nephropathy in patients with NPS are largely unknown. However, a recent study drew the following conclusions regarding renal involvement in patients with NPS: 1) quantitative urinalysis revealed the presence of proteinuria in 21.3% of the patients, and microalbuminuria was detected in 21.7% of the patients without overt proteinuria, 2) proteinuria and microalbuminuria were found to occur significantly more frequently in females, 3) patients with an LMX1B
mutation located in the homeodomain were found to have a significantly greater occurrence and higher values of proteinuria than those carrying mutations in the LIM domains, and 4) a positive family history of nephropathy and presence of radial head hypoplasia were found to be associated with an increased individual risk of developing renal disease (17
). In our study, renal involvement was detected in 2 patients and their affected parents, 3 of whom were females. However, mutation located in the homeodomain and radial head hypoplasia were detected in only one of the families.
The most common renal pathologic findings characteristic of NPS are focal or diffuse and irregular thickening of the GBM with patchy electron-lucent areas (so called 'moth-eaten' appearance) and irregular deposition of bundles of fibrillar collagen (type III collagen) within the GBM and the mesangial matrix. These characteristic ultrastructural features of the GBM have been observed in all biopsied NPS patients. However, the severity of these changes do not correlate well with patient's age, the severity of proteinuria, the degree of impaired renal function, or even the presence of nephropathy (15
). In our study, renal biopsy was performed in only one patient (family 1) who had developed full-blown nephrotic syndrome at the age of 2.2 yr and end-stage renal disease at age 4. Her clinical course was rather unusual because the progression to end-stage renal disease in patients with NPS is usually slow (15
). Her renal biopsy, which was performed at age 2.5, revealed focal segmental glomerulosclerosis. However, the GBM changes were not evaluated due to lack of glomeruli in the specimen.
Open angle glaucoma or ocular hypertension is a recently recognized phenotype of NPS (4
, 21). These lesions, which usually develop during adulthood, are treatable; therefore, regular ophthalmologic screening of patients with NPS should be strongly encouraged. In our study, no patients or adult family members with glaucoma were detected, but its presence was evaluated solely based on patient history.
In conclusion, the phenotypic and genotypic features of the patients evaluated in this study were similar to those observed in previously conducted studies. In addition, inter- and intrafamilial variability of the phenotypes was observed, but no genotype-phenotype correlation was observed. However, the mechanism underlying the phenotypic variations and predisposing factors of the development and progression of nephropathy in NPS patients are still unknown.