NORD gratefully acknowledges Emily Fishman, NORD Editorial Intern, and A. Micheil Innes, MD, FRCPC, FCCMG, Department of Medical Genetics, University of Calgary, Alberta Children’s Hospital Research Institute for Child and Maternal Health, Calgary, Alberta, Canada and David A Dyment, DPhil, MD, FRCPC, FCCMG, Children’s Hospital of Eastern Ontario Research Institute, for assistance in the preparation of this report.
SHORT syndrome is a rare condition described by RJ Gorlin et al in 1975 based on the striking physical features of two infants born to unaffected parents. Over time, additional individuals have been described and the clinical definition of SHORT syndrome has been expanded. Each letter of SHORT syndrome represents one of the common findings in affected persons:
(S) = short stature
(H) = hyperextensibility of joints and/or hernia (inguinal)
(O) = ocular depression (deep-set eyes)
(R) = Rieger anomaly (defective development of the eye that often leads to glaucoma)
(T) = teething delay
Not all of these five features are required for diagnosis of SHORT syndrome.
Other characteristics common in SHORT syndrome are a triangular face, small chin with a dimple, a loss of fat under the skin (lipodystrophy), hearing loss, intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) (poor fetal growth and low weight) and delayed speech.
SHORT syndrome is a disorder that affects multiple organ systems. This condition was initially characterized by short stature, joints that stretch more than usual (hyperextensibility), a particular type of hernia in which the intestine protrudes through a weak spot in the abdominal muscles (inguinal hernia), deep set eyes (ocular depression), defective development of the anterior chamber of the eye that can lead to glaucoma (Rieger anomaly) and delayed eruption of teeth.
In addition to the classic features, other characteristics that are common in SHORT syndrome include a triangular face, small chin with a dimple, abnormal position of the ears and hearing loss. Loss of fat under the skin (lipodystrophy) is also common, causing difficulty gaining weight and a translucent appearance to the skin. This typically presents first in the face followed by the chest and upper extremities in the first few years of development. Often, the lower extremities are spared from lipodystrophy, but overall body appearance is thin with low body mass index (BMI). Some affected individuals have speech delay and other developmental delays but intelligence is normal. In addition to teething delay, development of further dental issues is likely. Insulin resistance is common in mid-childhood to adolescence, often progressing into diabetes mellitus by early adulthood. Babies with SHORT syndrome are usually born at or slightly before term, but often have low birth weight, small head circumference and shortened length. Individuals with SHORT syndrome are thought to have a normal life-expectancy.
SHORT syndrome is caused by changes (pathogenic variations) in the PIK3R1 gene. This gene is responsible for proper function of the enzyme PI3K. Enzymes are proteins that are required for cellular reactions. Specifically, PI3K is involved in cell growth and division, transport of materials within cells, movement of cells and regulation of the hormone insulin.
SHORT syndrome is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner. Dominant genetic disorders occur when only a single copy of an abnormal gene is necessary to cause a particular disease. The pathogenic variant can be inherited from either parent if affected or can be the result of a new (de novo) variant in the affected individual. The risk of passing the pathogenic variant from an affected parent to an offspring is 50% for each pregnancy. The risk is the same for males and females.
SHORT syndrome is a very rare disorder with fewer than 50 reported cases in the literature to date. SHORT syndrome is not known to be more prevalent in a certain ethnic group or geographic location.
The diagnosis of SHORT syndrome is based on physical findings, with facial features being particularly important, and molecular genetic testing for pathogenic variants in the PIK3R1 gene.
No specific treatment exists for SHORT syndrome. Treatment is symptomatic and supportive based on the features present in each patient. Rieger anomaly/glaucoma, dental anomalies, insulin resistance/diabetes mellitus and hearing loss can often be treated by appropriate medical specialists. Given the increased risk for insulin resistance, it is generally advisable to avoid growth hormone treatments.
Genetic counseling is recommended for patients and their families.
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PIK3R1 gene.MedlinePlus. https://ghr.nlm.nih.gov/gene/PIK3R1#conditions. Reviewed: December 2013. Accessed May 5, 2021.
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Dyment D, Innes AM. SHORT syndrome. Orphanet. Last Update:June 2019. http://www.orpha.net/consor/cgi-bin/OC_Exp.php?Lng=GB&Expert=3163 Accessed May 6, 2021.
McKusick VA. SHORT SYNDROME. Online Inheritance in Man (OMIM). Last update: 12/14/2017. https://www.omim.org/entry/269880. Accessed May 5, 2021
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