Constitutional Bone Impairment in Noonan Syndrome

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Noonan syndrome (NS) is an autosomal dominant trait characterized by genotypic and phenotypic variability. It belongs to the Ras/MAPK pathway disorders collectively namedRasopathiesor neurocardiofaciocutaneous syndromes. Phenotype is characterized by short stature, congenital heart defects, facial dysmorphisms, skeletal and ectodermal anomalies, cryptorchidism, mild to moderate developmental delay/learning disability, and tumor predisposition. Short stature and skeletal dysmorphisms are almost constant and several studies hypothesized a role for the RAS pathway in regulating bone metabolism. In this study, we investigated the bone quality assessed by phalangeal quantitative ultrasound (QUS) and the metabolic bone profiling in a group of patients with NS, to determine whether low bone mineralization is primary or secondary to NS characteristics. Thirty-five patients were enrolled, including 20 males (55.6%) and 15 females (44.5%) aged 1.0–17.8 years (mean 6.4 ± 4.5, median 4.9 years). Each patients was submitted to clinical examination, estimation of the bone age, laboratory assays, and QUS assessment. Twenty-five percent of the cohort shows reduced QUS values for their age based on bone transmission time. Bone measurement were adjusted for multiple factors frequently observed in NS patients, such as growth retardation, delayed bone age, retarded puberty, and reduced body mass index, potentially affecting bone quality or its appraisal. In spite of the correction attempts, QUS measurement indicates that bone impairment persists in nearly 15% of the cohort studied. Our results indicate that bone impairment in NS is likely primary and not secondary to any of the phenotypic traits of NS, nor consistent with metabolic disturbances.

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