Unique prenatal manifestations of biallelic NDUFAF5 variants: expansion of phenotype

D. Brabbing-Goldstein, D. Kozlova, L. Bazak, L. Basel-Salmon, Y. Gilboa, I. Marciano-Levi, J. Zahra, B. Kanengisser-Pines, A. Botvinik, A. Kurolap, R. Birnbaum, Y. Yaron

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Objective: Mitochondrial complex-I deficiency, nuclear type 16, is a rare autosomal recessive disorder caused by biallelic pathogenic variants in NDUFAF5 (C20orf7) (OMIM 618238). The aim of this study was to describe a severe early prenatal manifestation of this disorder, which was previously considered to occur only postnatally. Methods: This was a multicenter retrospective case series including five fetuses from three non-related families, which shared common sonographic abnormalities, including brain cysts, corpus callosal malformations, non-immune hydrops fetalis and growth restriction. Genetic evaluation included chromosomal microarray analysis and exome sequencing. Two fetuses from the same family were also available for pathology examination, including electron microscopy. Results: Chromosomal microarray analysis revealed no chromosomal abnormality in any of the tested cases. Trio exome sequencing demonstrated that three affected fetuses from three unrelated families were compound heterozygous or homozygous for likely pathogenic variants in NDUFAF5. No other causative variants were detected. The association between NDUFAF5 variants and fetal malformations was further confirmed by segregation analysis. Histological evaluation of fetal tissues and electron microscopy of the skeletal muscle, liver, proximal tubules and heart demonstrated changes that resembled postmortem findings in patients with mitochondrial depletion disorders as well as previously undescribed findings. Conclusions: Mitochondrial complex-I deficiency and specifically biallelic mutations in NDUFAF5 have a role in abnormal fetal development, presenting with severe congenital malformations. Mitochondrial complex-I disorders should be considered in the differential diagnosis of corpus callosal malformations and brain cysts, especially when associated with extracranial abnormalities, such as fetal growth restriction and non-immune hydrops fetalis.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)392-398
Number of pages7
JournalUltrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2024
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 International Society of Ultrasound in Obstetrics and Gynecology.


  • FGR
  • brain cysts
  • complex-I deficiency
  • corpus callosum
  • exome sequencing
  • hydrops fetalis


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