Familial segregation of hemangiomas and vascular malformations as an autosomal dominant trait
Background The pathogenesis of infantile hemangiomas is not yet understood. Growth factors and hormonal and mechanical influences have been thought to affect the focal abnormal growth of endothelial cells in these lesions. However, these influences may represent secondary responses to an underlying primary molecular event leading to the development of hemangiomas.
Observations We report the rare familial occurrence of hemangiomas and/or vascular malformations in 6 kindreds, suggesting autosomal dominant inheritance. In these families, multiple generations (2-4) were affected by hemangiomas or vascular malformations. In contrast to the generally accepted female-male ratio of 3:1 to 4:1 associated with sporadic hemangiomas, the families with hemangiomas in our study demonstrated a 2:1 ratio. Additionally, vascular malformations and hemangiomas were present in different members of the same family. The vascular lesions appeared to be transmitted in an autosomal dominant fashion with moderate to high penetrance.
Conclusions We have identified 6 families demonstrating autosomal dominant segregation of childhood hemangiomas. Additionally, family members with vascular malformations were identified in these kindreds. Physicians caring for children with hemangiomas and vascular malformations should include in their medical histories inquiries about vascular lesions in other family members, even when obvious lesions are not present in the parents. The identification of the mutation(s) underlying vascular lesions will provide insight into the pathogenesis of these familial hemangiomas and, potentially, common sporadic hemangiomas. In addition, such research would shed light on the regulation of angiogenic processes during development.