Pathogenic NOTCH3 Variants Are Frequent Among the Korean General Population

Objective

This study aimed to determine the frequency of pathogenic NOTCH3 variants among Koreans.

Methods

In this cross-sectional study, we queried for pathogenic NOTCH3 variants in 2 Korean public genome databases: the Korean Reference Genome Database (KRGDB) and the Korean Genome Project (Korea1K). In addition, we screened the 3 most common pathogenic NOTCH3 variants (p.Arg75Pro, p.Arg544Cys, and p.Arg578Cys) for 1,000 individuals on Jeju Island, where the largest number of patients with cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL) have been reported in Korea.

Results

The pathogenic NOTCH3 variant (p.Arg544Cys) was found in 0.12% of sequences in the KRGDB, and 3 pathogenic variants (p.Arg75Pro, p.Arg182Cys, and p.Arg544Cys) were present in 0.44% of the Korea1K database. Of the 1,000 individuals on Jeju Island, we found 2 cysteine-altering NOTCH3 variants (p.Arg544Cys variant in 9 and p.Arg578Cys in 1 individual) in 1.00% of the participants (95% confidence interval: 0.48%–1.83%). The presence of cysteine-altering NOTCH3 variants was significantly associated with a history of stroke (p < 0.001).

Discussion

Pathogenic NOTCH3 variants are frequently found in the general Korean population. Such a high prevalence of pathogenic variants could threaten the brain health of tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands of older adults in Korea.

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