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The pattern of genetic transmission of the leukocyte defect in fatal granulomatous disease of childhood

D. B. Windhorst, A. R. Page, B. Holmes, P. G. Quie and R. A. Good

Pediatric Research Laboratories of the Variety Club Heart Hospital and the Department of Pediatrics, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455

Published May 1968

The leukocyte-phagocytic function test which was found to be abnormal in boys with fatal granulomatous disease of childhood has been found to be abnormal to an intermediate extent in their mothers. Nine of nine mothers were shown to be abnormal, whereas none of eight fathers and none of five healthy brothers exhibited a defect. 10 of 16 female siblings were abnormal to the same degree as their mothers, as were all three maternal grandmothers available for study. Assuming that this intermediate functional defect represents the heterozygous state, the nine family pedigrees are entirely compatible with the concept that the trait is transmitted on the X-chromosome.

A tetrazolium dye-phagocytosis histochemical test was also abnormal in the carrier females and provided independent confirmation of the selection of the female siblings suspected of being carriers for the trait. In addition, this procedure gives indirect evidence that the gene in question is subject to the random inactivation that appears to affect many X-linked genes in mammalian females.

The family members were also studied with two of the metabolic assays that have been shown to be abnormal in the cells of affected boys. One assay, the oxidation of the first carbon of glucose-1-14C by the isolated leukocytes, was significantly abnormal in the cells of carrier females. The other assay, the oxidation of formate-14C by leukocytes of heterozygotes was not significantly different from control values.

The practical problem of diagnosing patients would appear to be best solved with a tetrazolium dye procedure, whereas the more subtle abnormality in carrier females is best detected with the leukocyte function test. Improved methods for the function test are being developed.

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