PURPOSE: Consanguineous couples are at increased risk of being heterozygous for the same autosomal recessive (AR) disorder(s), with a 25% risk of affected offspring as a consequence. Until recently, comprehensive preconception carrier testing (PCT) for AR disorders was unavailable in routine diagnostics. Here we developed and implemented such a test in routine clinical care.
METHODS: We performed exome sequencing (ES) for 100 consanguineous couples. For each couple, rare variants that could give rise to biallelic variants in offspring were selected. These variants were subsequently filtered against a gene panel consisting of similar to 2,000 genes associated with known AR disorders (OMIM-based). Remaining variants were classified according to American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics/Association for Molecular Pathology (ACMG/AMP) guidelines, after which only likely pathogenic and pathogenic (class IV/V) variants, present in both partners, were reported.
RESULTS: In 28 of 100 tested consanguineous couples (28%), likely pathogenic and pathogenic variants not previously known in the couple or their family were reported conferring 25% risk of affected offspring.
CONCLUSION: ES-based PCT provides a powerful diagnostic tool to identify AR disease carrier status in consanguineous couples. Outcomes provided significant reproductive chokes for a higher proportion of these couples than previous tests.