The role of genetics in the pathogenesis and diagnosis of type 1 Von Willebrand disease

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Purpose of reviewVon Willebrand disease (VWD) is a common bleeding disorder, but diagnosis of VWD is challenging, particularly with type 1 VWD. Although most clinicians use specific tests of von Willebrand factor (VWF) activity to classify patients with VWD, genetic testing for VWF defects is another potential method of diagnosis.Recent findingsStudies of patients with type 1 VWD report consistently that many, but not all, study participants have VWF gene defects. Certain populations, including those with VWF levels less than 30 IU/dl and those with clearance defects, are more likely to have a VWF sequence variant. In addition, a number of loci outside the VWF gene have been shown to affect VWF levels, including ABO, CLEC4M, STXBP5, and STAB2.SummaryGenetic defects in VWF are common, but not all defects lead to disease. Type 1 VWD in particular does not always have an associated VWF sequence variant. New data stemming from genome-wide association studies on modifier genes suggest that the etiology of type 1 VWD is multifactorial.

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