European Journal of Endocrinology

 Next-generation panel sequencing identifies NF1 germline mutations in three patients with pheochromocytoma but no clinical diagnosis of neurofibromatosis type 1

Our objective was to improve molecular diagnostics in patients with hereditary pheochromocytoma and paraganglioma (PPGL) by using next-generation sequencing (NGS) multi-gene panel analysis. Derived from this study, we here present three cases that were diagnosed with NF1 germline mutations but did not have a prior clinical diagnosis of neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1).


We performed genetic analysis of known tumor predisposition genes, including NF1, using a multi-gene NGS enrichment-based panel applied to a total of 1029 PPGL patients. We did not exclude genes known to cause clinically defined syndromes such as NF1 based on missing phenotypic expression as is commonly practiced.


Genetic analysis was performed using NGS (TruSight Cancer Panel/customized panel by Illumina) for analyzing patients’ blood and tumor samples. Validation was carried out by Sanger sequencing.


Within our cohort, three patients, who were identified to carry pathogenic NF1 germline mutations, attracted attention, since none of the patients had a clinical suspicion of NF1 and one of them was initially suspected to have MEN2A syndrome due to co-occurrence of a medullary thyroid carcinoma. In these cases, one splice site, one stop and one frameshift mutation in NF1 were identified.


Since phenotypical presentation of NF1 is highly variable, we suggest analysis of the NF1 gene also in PPGL patients who do not meet diagnostic NF1 criteria. Co-occurrence of medullary thyroid carcinoma and PPGL was found to be a clinical decoy in NF1 diagnostics. These observations underline the value of multi-gene panel NGS for PPGL patients.