Clinical and genetic aspects of Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, classic type

  • Malfait F
  • Wenstrup R
  • De Paepe A
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Classic Ehlers-Danlos syndrome is a heritable connective tissue disorder characterized by skin hyperextensibility, fragile and soft skin, delayed wound healing with formation of atrophic scars, easy bruising, and generalized joint hypermobility. It comprises Ehlers-Danlos syndrome type I and Ehlers-Danlos syndrome type II, but it is now apparent that these form a continuum of clinical findings and differ only in phenotypic severity. It is currently estimated that approximately 50% of patients with a clinical diagnosis of classic Ehlers-Danlos syndrome harbor mutations in the COL5A1 and the COL5A2 gene, encoding the α1 and the α2-chain of type V collagen, respectively. However, because no prospective molecular studies of COL5A1 and COL5A2 have been performed in a clinically well-defined patient group, this number may underestimate the real proportion of patients with classic Ehlers-Danlos syndrome harboring a mutation in one of these genes. In the majority of patients with molecularly characterized classic Ehlers-Danlos syndrome, the disease is caused by a mutation leading to a nonfunctional COL5A1 allele and resulting in haploinsufficiency of type V collagen. A smaller proportion of patients harbor a structural mutation in COL5A1 or COL5A2, causing the production of a functionally defective type V collagen protein. Most mutations identified so far result in a reduced amount of type V collagen in the connective tissues available for collagen fibrillogenesis. Inter- and intrafamilial phenotypic variability is observed, but no genotype-phenotype correlations have been observed. No treatment for the underlying defect is presently available for Ehlers-Danlos syndrome. However, a series of preventive guidelines are applicable.

Author-supplied keywords

  • COL5A1
  • COL5A2
  • Ehlers-Danlos syndrome classic type
  • collagen
  • genetics
  • management
  • molecular testing
  • natural history

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  • Fransiska Malfait

  • Richard J. Wenstrup

  • Anne De Paepe

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