Whole-exome sequencing enables correct diagnosis and surgical management of rare inherited childhood anemia

Monica Khurana, Donna Edwards, Frederic Rescorla, Caroline Miller, Ying He, Elizabeth Sierra Potchanant, Grzegorz Nalepa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Correct diagnosis of inherited bone marrow failure syndromes is a challenge because of the significant overlap in clinical presentation of these disorders. Establishing right genetic diagnosis is crucial for patients' optimal clinical management and family counseling. A nondysmorphic infant reported here developed severe transfusion-dependent anemia and met clinical criteria for diagnosis of Diamond-Blackfan anemia (DBA). However, whole-exome sequencing demonstrated that the child was a compound heterozygote for a paternally inherited pathogenic truncating variant (SPTA1c.4975 C>T) and a novel maternally inherited missense variant of uncertain significance (SPTA1c.5029 G>A) within the spectrin gene, consistent with hereditary hemolytic anemia due to disruption of red blood cell (RBC) cytoskeleton. Ektacytometry demonstrated abnormal membrane flexibility of the child's RBCs. Scanning electron microscopy revealed morphological aberrations of the patient's RBCs. Both parents were found to have mild hereditary elliptocytosis. Importantly, patients with severe RBC membrane defects may be successfully managed with splenectomy to minimize peripheral destruction of misshapen RBCs, whereas patients with DBA require lifelong transfusions, steroid therapy, or hematopoietic stem cell transplantation. As suggested by the WES findings, splenectomy rendered our patient transfusion-independent, improving the family's quality of life and preventing transfusion-related iron overload. This case illustrates the utility of whole-exome sequencing in clinical care of children with genetic disorders of unclear presentation.

Original languageEnglish (US)
JournalCold Spring Harbor molecular case studies
Issue number5
StatePublished - Oct 1 2018


  • anemic pallor
  • congenital hemolytic anemia
  • microspherocytosis
  • reticulocytopenia
  • unconjugated hyperbilirubinemia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry
  • Molecular Medicine
  • Genetics
  • Genetics(clinical)

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