Evolution of genome diagnostics in epidermolysis bullosa: Unveiling the power of next-generation sequencing

R Baardman, H H Lemmink, V K Yenamandra, S Z Commandeur-Jan, M Viel, K A Kooi, G F H Diercks, R Meijer, M van Geel, H Scheffer, R J Sinke, B Sikkema-Raddatz, M C Bolling, P C van den Akker*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

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BACKGROUND: Genome diagnostics is considered gold standard diagnostics for epidermolysis bullosa (EB), a phenotypically and genetically heterogeneous group of rare disorders characterized by blistering and wounding of mucocutaneous tissues. EB is caused by pathogenic variants in genes encoding proteins of the dermo-epidermal junction. Accurate genetic diagnosis of EB is crucial for prognostication, counselling and precision-medicine. Genome diagnostics for EB started in 1991 with the introduction of Sanger sequencing (SS), analysing one gene at a time. In 2013, SS was superseded by next-generation sequencing (NGS), that allow for high-throughput sequencing of multiple genes in parallel. Several studies have shown a beneficial role for NGS in EB diagnostics, but its true benefit has not been quantified.

OBJECTIVES: To determine the benefit of NGS in EB by systematically evaluating the performance of different genome diagnostics used over time based on robust data from the Dutch EB Registry.

METHODS: The diagnostic performances of SS and NGS were systematically evaluated in a retrospective observational study including all index cases with a clinical diagnosis of EB in whom genome diagnostics was performed between 01 January 1994 and 01 January 2022 (n = 308), registered at the Dutch EB Expertise Centre.

RESULTS: Over time, a genetic diagnosis was made in 289/308 (94%) EB cases. The diagnostic yield increased from 89% (SS) to 95% (NGS). Most importantly, NGS significantly reduced diagnostic turnaround time (39 days vs. 211 days, p < 0.001). The likelihood of detecting variants of uncertain significance and additional findings increased from 5% and 1% (SS) to 22% and 13% (NGS) respectively.

CONCLUSIONS: Our study quantifies the benefit of NGS-based methods and demonstrate they have had a major impact on EB diagnostics through an increased diagnostic yield and a dramatically decreased turnaround time (39 days). Although our diagnostic yield is high (95%), further improvement of genome diagnostics is urgently needed to provide a genetic diagnosis in all EB patients.

Original languageEnglish
JournalJournal of the European Academy of Dermatology and Venereology
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 11-Mar-2024


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