Cholestasis is caused by a wide variety of etiologies, often genetic in origin. Broad overlap in clinical presentations, particularly in newborns, renders prioritizing diagnostic investigations challenging. In this setting, a timely, comprehensive assessment using a multigene panel by a clinical diagnostic laboratory would likely prove useful. We summarize initial findings from a testing program designed to discover genetic causes of cholestasis.
A neonatal/adult sequencing panel containing 66 genes (originally 57; nine added March 2017) relevant to cholestasis was used. A broad range of eligible patients were enrolled with current/history of cholestasis without an identified cause, or unexplained chronic liver disease. DNA sequencing utilized a custom-designed capture library, and variants were classified and reported as benign, likely benign, variant of unknown significance (VOUS), likely pathogenic (LP), or pathogenic (P), according to the clinical interpretation workflow at EGL Genetics (Tucker, GA).
A total of 2433 samples were submitted between February 2016 and December 2017; 2171 results were reported. Median turnaround time was 21 days. Results from the 2171 subjects (57% <1 year old) included 583 P variants, 79 LP variants, and 3117 VOUS; 166 P/LP variants and 415 VOUS were novel. The panel's overall diagnostic yield was 12% (n = 265/2171) representing 32 genes. The top five genetic diagnoses for the group, in order: JAG1 + NOTCH2 (Alagille syndrome), ABCB11, SERPINA1, ABCB4, and POLG.
These findings support the utility of comprehensive rapid multigene testing in diagnosing cholestasis and highlight the evolving understanding of genetic variants contributing to the pathogenesis of cholestasis.