Digital clubbing, recognized by Hippocrates in the fifth century BC, is the outward hallmark of pulmonary hypertrophic osteoarthropathy, a clinical constellation that develops secondary to various acquired diseases, especially intrathoracic neoplasm1. The pathogenesis of clubbing and hypertrophic osteoarthropathy has hitherto been poorly understood, but a clinically indistinguishable primary (idiopathic) form of hypertrophic osteoarthropathy (PHO) is recognized2,3. This familial disorder can cause diagnostic confusion, as well as significant disability. By autozygosity methods, we mapped PHO to chromosome 4q33–q34 and identified mutations in HPGD, encoding 15-hydroxyprostaglandin dehydrogenase, the main enzyme of prostaglandin degradation. Homozygous individuals develop PHO secondary to chronically elevated prostaglandin E2 levels. Heterozygous relatives also show milder biochemical and clinical manifestations. These findings not only suggest therapies for PHO, but also imply that clubbing secondary to other pathologies may be prostaglandin mediated. Testing for HPGD mutations and biochemical testing for HPGD deficiency in patients with unexplained clubbing might help to obviate extensive searches for occult pathology.
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This study was supported by the UK Medical Research Council (Clinical Research Training Fellowship to S.U.) and Cancer Research UK.
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Uppal, S., Diggle, C., Carr, I. et al. Mutations in 15-hydroxyprostaglandin dehydrogenase cause primary hypertrophic osteoarthropathy. Nat Genet 40, 789–793 (2008). https://doi.org/10.1038/ng.153
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