Subtelomeric Rearrangements: Presentation of 21 Probands with Emphasis on Familial Cases

Ana Rita Soares, Gabriela Soares, Manuela Mota-Freitas, Natália Oliva-Teles, Ana Maria Fortuna


Introduction: Intellectual disability affects 2% – 3% of the general population, with a chromosomal abnormality being found in 4% – 28% of these patients and a cryptic subtelomeric abnormality in 3% – 16%. In most cases, these subtelomeric rearrangements are submicroscopic, requiring techniques other than conventional karyotype for detection. They may be de novo or inherited from an affected parent or from a healthy carrier of a balanced chromosomal abnormality. The aim of this study was to characterize patients from our medical genetics center, in whom both a deletion and duplication in subtelomeric regions were found.
Material and Methods: Clinical and cytogenetic characterization of 21 probands followed at our center, from 1998 until 2017, with subtelomeric rearrangements.
Results: There were 21 probands from 19 families presenting with intellectual disability and facial dysmorphisms. Seven had behavior changes, five had epilepsy and 14 presented with some other sign or symptom. Four had chromosomal abnormalities detected by conventional karyotype and four were diagnosed by array-comparative genomic hybridization. In four cases, parental studies were not possible. The online mendelian inheritance in man classification was provided whenever any of the phenotypes (deletion or duplication syndrome) was dominant.
Discussion: Patients and relevant family members were clinically and cytogenetically characterized. Although rare, subtelomeric changes are a substantial cause of syndromic intellectual disability with important familial repercussions. It is essential to remember that a normal array-comparative genomic hybridization result does not exclude a balanced rearrangement in the parents.
Conclusion: Parental genetic studies are essential not only for a complete characterization of the rearrangement, but also for accurate genetic counselling and screening of family members at risk for recurrence.


Intellectual Disability/genetics; Subtelomeric Rearrangements Gene Rearrangement/genetics; Telomere/genetics

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