Objective: To estimate the prevalence of Joubert syndrome (JS) in Italy applying standards of descriptive epidemiology and to provide a molecular characterization of the described patient cohort.
Methods: We enrolled all patients with a neuroradiologically confirmed diagnosis of JS who resided in Italy in 2018 and calculated age and sex prevalence, assuming a Poisson distribution. We also investigated the correlation between proband chronological age and age at diagnosis and performed next-generation sequencing (NGS) analysis on probands' DNA when available.
Results: We identified 284 patients with JS: the overall, female- and male-specific population-based prevalence rates were 0.47 (95% confidence interval [CI] 0.41-0.53), 0.41 (95% CI 0.32-0.49), and 0.53 (95% CI 0.45-0.61) per 100,000 population, respectively. When we considered only patients in the age range from 0 to 19 years, the corresponding population-based prevalence rates rose to 1.7 (95% CI 1.49-1.97), 1.62 (95% CI 1.31-1.99), and 1.80 (95% CI 1.49-2.18) per 100,000 population. NGS analysis allowed identifying the genetic cause in 131 of 219 screened probands. Age at diagnosis was available for 223 probands, with a mean of 6.67 ± 8.10 years, and showed a statistically significant linear relationship with chronological age (r 2 = 0.79; p < 0.001).
Conclusions: We estimated for the first time the age and sex prevalence of JS in Italy and investigated the patients' genetic profile. The obtained population-based prevalence rate was ≈10 times higher than that available in literature for children population.