BACKGROUND: Obesity is a global and severe health problem. Due to genetic heterogeneity, the identification of genetic defects in patients with obesity can be time consuming and costly. Therefore, we developed a custom diagnostic targeted next-generation sequencing (NGS)-based analysis to simultaneously identify mutations in 52 obesity-related genes. The aim of this study was to assess the diagnostic yield of this approach in patients with suspected genetic obesity.
METHODS: DNA of 1230 patients with obesity (median BMI adults 43.6 kg/m2; median body mass index-SD children +3.4 SD) was analysed in the genome diagnostics section of the Department of Genetics of the UMC Utrecht (The Netherlands) by targeted analysis of 52 obesity-related genes.
RESULTS: In 48 patients pathogenic mutations confirming the clinical diagnosis were detected. The majority of these were observed in the MC4R gene (18/48). In an additional 67 patients a probable pathogenic mutation was identified, necessitating further analysis to confirm the clinical relevance.
CONCLUSIONS: NGS-based gene panel analysis in patients with obesity led to a definitive diagnosis of a genetic obesity disorder in 3.9% of obese probands, and a possible diagnosis in an additional 5.4% of obese probands. The highest yield was achieved in a selected paediatric subgroup, establishing a definitive diagnosis in 12 out of 164 children with severe early onset obesity (7.3%). These findings give a realistic insight in the diagnostic yield of genetic testing for patients with obesity and could help these patients to receive (future) personalised treatment.