An Assessment of Penetrance and Clinical Expression of Malignant Hyperthermia in Individuals Carrying Diagnostic Ryanodine Receptor 1 Gene Mutations

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Background:Malignant hyperthermia (MH) is a potentially lethal disorder triggered by certain anesthetics. Mutations in the ryanodine receptor 1 (RYR1) gene account for about half of MH cases. Discordance between the low incidence of MH and a high prevalence of mutations has been attributed to incomplete penetrance, which has not been quantified yet. The authors aimed to examine penetrance of MH-diagnostic RYR1 mutations and the likelihood of mutation carriers to develop MH, and to identify factors affecting severity of MH clinical expression.Methods:In this multicenter case–control study, data from 125 MH pedigrees between 1994 and 2017 were collected from four European registries and one Canadian registry. Probands (survivors of MH reaction) and their relatives with at least one exposure to anesthetic triggers, carrying one diagnostic RYR1 mutation, were included. Penetrance (percentage of probands among all genotype-positive) and the probability of a mutation carrier to develop MH were obtained. MH onset time and Clinical Grading Scale score were used to assess MH reaction severity.Results:The overall penetrance of nine RYR1 diagnostic mutations was 40.6% (93 of 229), without statistical differences among mutations. Likelihood to develop MH on exposure to triggers was 0.25 among all RYR1 mutation carriers, and 0.76 in probands (95% CI of the difference 0.41 to 0.59). Penetrance in males was significantly higher than in females (50% [62 of 124] vs. 29.7% [30 of 101]; P = 0.002). Males had increased odds of developing MH (odds ratio, 2.37; 95% CI, 1.36 to 4.12) despite similar levels of exposure to trigger anesthetics. Proband’s median age was 12 yr (interquartile range 6 to 32.5).Conclusions:Nine MH-diagnostic RYR1 mutations have sex-dependent incomplete penetrance, whereas MH clinical expression is influenced by patient’s age and the type of anesthetic. Our quantitative evaluation of MH penetrance reinforces the notion that a previous uneventful anesthetic does not preclude the possibility of developing MH.

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