Clinical expression of cystic fibrosis in a large cohort of Italian siblings

Vito Terlizzi, Marco Lucarelli, Donatello Salvatore, Adriano Angioni, Arianna Bisogno, Cesare Braggion, Roberto Buzzetti, Vincenzo Carnovale, Rosaria Casciaro, Giuseppe Castaldo, Natalia Cirilli, Mirella Collura, Carla Colombo, Antonella Miriam Di Lullo, Ausilia Elce, Vincenzina Lucidi, Elisa Madarena, Rita Padoan, Serena Quattrucci, Valeria RaiaManuela Seia, Lisa Termini, Federica Zarrilli

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: A clinical heterogeneity was reported in patients with Cystic Fibrosis (CF) with the same CFTR genotype and between siblings with CF. Methods: We investigated all clinical aspects in a cohort of 101 pairs of siblings with CF (including 6 triplets) followed since diagnosis. Results: Severe lung disease had a 22.2% concordance in sib-pairs, occurred early and the FEV1% at 12 years was predictive of the severity of lung disease in the adulthood. Similarly, CF liver disease occurred early (median: 15 years) and showed a concordance of 27.8% in sib-pairs suggesting a scarce contribution of genetic factors; in fact, only 2/15 patients with liver disease in discordant sib-pairs had a deficiency of alpha-1-antitrypsin (a known modifier gene of CF liver phenotype). CF related diabetes was found in 22 pairs (in 6 in both the siblings). It occurred later (median: 32.5 years) and is strongly associated with liver disease. Colonization by P. aeruginosa and nasal polyposis that required surgery had a concordance > 50% in sib-pairs and were poorly correlated to other clinical parameters. The pancreatic status was highly concordant in pairs of siblings (i.e., 95.1%) but a different pancreatic status was observed in patients with the same CFTR mutations. This suggests a close relationship of the pancreatic status with the "whole" CFTR genotype, including mutations in regulatory regions that may modulate the levels of CFTR expression. Finally, a severe course of CF was evident in a number of patients with pancreatic sufficiency. Conclusions: Physicians involved in care of patients with CF and in genetic counseling must be aware of the clinical heterogeneity of CF even in sib-pairs that, at the state of the art, is difficult to explain.

Original languageEnglish
Article number196
JournalBMC Pulmonary Medicine
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Dec 22 2018


  • CFTR
  • FEV
  • Genotype
  • Modifier genes
  • Phenotype
  • Pseudomonas aeruginosa

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pulmonary and Respiratory Medicine


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