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Osteogenesis Imperfecta

Overview :

Collagen is a fibrous protein material. It serves as the structural foundation of skin, bone, cartilage, and ligaments. In osteogenesis imperfecta, the collagen produced is abnormal and disorganized. This results in a number of abnormalities throughout the body, the most notable being fragile, easily broken bones.

There are four forms of OI, Types I through IV. Of these, Type II is the most severe, and is usually fatal within a short time after birth. Types I, III, and IV have some overlapping and some distinctive symptoms, particularly weak bones.

Evidence suggests that OI results from abnormalities in the collagen gene COL1A1 or COL1A2, and possibly abnormalities in other genes. In OI Type I, II, and III, the gene map locus is 17q21.31-q22, 7q22.1, and in OI Type IV, the gene map locus is 17q21.31-q22.

In OI, the genetic abnormality causes one of two things to occur. It may direct cells to make an altered collagen protein and the presence of this altered collagen causes OI Type II, III, or IV. Alternately, the dominant altered gene may fail to direct cells to make any collagen protein. Although some collagen is produced by instructions from the normal gene, an overall decrease in the total amount of collagen produced results in OI Type I.

A child with only one parent who is a carrier of a single altered copy of the gene has no chance of actually having the disease, but a 50% chance of being a carrier.

If both parents have OI caused by an autosomal dominant gene change, there is a 75% chance that the child will inherit one or both OI genes. In other words, there is a 25% chance the child will inherit only the mother's OI gene (and the father's unaffected gene), a 25% chance the child will inherit only the father's OI gene (and the mother's unaffected gene), and a 25% chance the child will inherit both parents' OI genes. Because this situation has been uncommon, the outcome of a child inheriting two OI genes is hard to predict. It is likely that the child would have a severe, possibly lethal, form of the disorder.

About 25% of children with OI are born into a family with no history of the disorder. This occurs when the gene spontaneously mutates in either the sperm or the egg before the child's conception. No triggers for this type of mutation are known. This is called a new dominant mutation. The child has a 50% chance of passing the disorder on to his or her children. In most cases, when a family with no history of OI has a child with OI, they are not at greater risk than the general population for having a second child with OI, and unaffected siblings of a person with OI are at no greater risk of having children with OI than the general population.

In studies of families into which infants with OI Type II were born, most of the babies had a new dominant mutation in a collagen gene. In some of these families, however, more than one infant was born with OI. Previously, researchers had seen this recurrence as evidence of recessive inheritance of this form of OI. More recently, however, researchers have concluded that the rare recurrence of OI to a couple with a child with autosomal dominant OI is more likely due to gonadal mosaicism. Instead of mutation occurring in an individual sperm or egg, it occurs in a percentage of the cells that give rise to a parent's multiple sperm or eggs. This mutation, present in a percentage of his or her reproductive cells, can result in more than one affected child without affecting the parent with the disorder. An estimated 2%-4% of families into which an infant with OI Type II is born are at risk of having another affected child because of gonadal mosaicism.


OI affects equal numbers of males and females. It occurs in about one of every 20,000 births.

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