Idiopathic congenital central hypoventilation syndrome (CCHS) is a very rare syndrome with major respiratory complications. Hypothesizing that CCHS is the most severe manifestation of general autonomic nervous system dysfunction (ANSD), we applied a case-control family study design to investigate the genetics of ANSD. Fifty-two probands with CCHS were identified, as well as 52 age-, race-, and gender-matched controls. ANSD phenotypic features were characterized in the cases, controls, and their family members. Our earlier studies found that most ANSD symptoms were more likely in CCHS cases and their relatives than in controls and their relatives (P < 0.05). The goal of the current study was to determine if the familiality of ANSD was consistent with a genetic pattern. We performed major locus segregation analysis of ANSD utilizing regressive models. CCHS probands were assumed to be affected; controls and relatives were designated as affected if they had two or more relevant symptoms. The hypothesis of "no transmission and no familial effects" was rejected in both case and control families. Case families were consistent with transmission of a major effect; control families were not (the difference in the pattern of results was significant, P <0.0001). In the total data set, the best-fitting model was codominant Mendelian inheritance of a major gene for ANSD. These case-control family studies support our hypothesis that CCHS is the most severe manifestation of a general ANSD, with a family pattern consistent with Mendelian transmission, and demonstrate the potential utility of the approach to studies of other, similarly intractable disorders.
- Autonomic nervous system (ANS) dysfunction
- Idiopathic congenital central hypoventilation syndrome (CCHS)
- Segregation analysis
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