Different distribution of the genetic subtypes of the Prader-Willi syndrome in the elderly

Margje Sinnema*, Kees E. P. van Roozendaal, Marian A. Maaskant, Hubert J. M. Smeets, John J. M. Engelen, Nieke Jonker-Houben, Constance T. R. M. Schrander-Stumpel, Leopold M. G. Curfs

*Corresponding author for this work

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The Prader-Willi syndrome (PWS) is a genetic disorder caused by the absent expression of the paternal copy of maternally imprinted genes in chromosome region 15q11-13. The frequencies of different subtypes in PWS are usually given in literature as 70% deletion, 25-30% maternal uniparental disomy (mUPD) and 3-5% others (imprinting centre (IC) defects and translocations). Little is known about factors that influence the frequency of genetic subtypes in PWS. The study sample comprised 102 adults with clinically and genetically confirmed PWS, contacted through the Dutch Prader-Willi Parent Association and through physicians specialized in treating persons with intellectual disabilities. Genetic testing showed 55 persons (54%) with a paternal deletion, 44 persons (43%) with an mUPD and 3 persons (3%) with a defect of the IC. The observed distribution in our study differed from that in literature (70% deletion, 30% mUPD), which was statistically significant (z-score: P <0.05). This was mainly caused by a higher proportion of mUPD in the advanced age groups. Differences in maternal age and BMI of persons with PWS could not explain the differences in distribution across the age groups. Our study population had a much broader age range, compared with other studies, because of a predominance of elderly people (40+ years) with PWS. In other studies, these elderly persons might have been undiagnosed and/or underreported because of a lack of genetic diagnosis. The results underline both the need for correct genetic diagnosis in all persons with PWS and adjustment of the guidelines for preventive management in adulthood. European Journal of Human Genetics (2010) 18, 993-998; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2010.67; published online 12 May 2010
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)993-998
JournalEuropean Journal of Human Genetics
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 10 Sept 2010


  • Prader-Willi syndrome
  • genetic subtypes
  • ageing

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