microphthalmia with brain and digit anomalies

Microphthalmia, Syndromic 6

Clinical Characteristics
Ocular Features: 

Ultrasound evaluation reveals globe size to vary widely from extremely small (6 mm) to normal axial length. Clinical anophthalmia is often diagnosed.  Both anophthalmia and microphthalmia may exist in the same individual. True anophthalmia has been confirmed in some patients in which no ocular tissue was detectable with ultrasound examination.  In such cases the optic nerves and chiasm are often missing as well.  Iris colobomas are common and these may extend posteriorly.  Myopia is sometimes present.

The ERG reveals generalized rod and cone dysfunction in some eyes, but may be normal in others. In many eyes the ERG is nonrecordable. Cataracts are frequently present.

Systemic Features: 

Digital and hand anomalies are common.  The hands are often described as broad and the thumbs may be low-placed.  The nails can appear dysplastic and postaxial polydactyly is often present.  Mild webbing of the fingers has been reported as well.  Microcephaly and the cranium can be misshapen. A high arched palate is often present and clefting has also been noted.  Micrognathia may be present. Some evidence of physical growth retardation is often evident.

Pituitary hypoplasia is not uncommon and may be associated with hypothyroidism and cryptorchidism with hypospadias, and a small or bifid scrotum.

The brain anomalies vary considerably.  Many patients have mild to moderate developmental delays with some learning difficulties. Sensorineural hearing loss is often present. Hypoplasia of the vermis, thinning of the corpus callosum, widening of the lateral ventricles, and occasional generalized cortical atrophy, at least in older individuals, have been described.


This is an autosomal dominant condition caused by a point mutation in BMP4 (bone morphogenetic protein-4) (14q22-q23).  A number of chromosomal deletions involving this gene have also been identified in individuals who have this syndrome but since contiguous genes such as OTX2 and SIX6 may also be involved, the phenotype is more likely to be associated with other anomalies including genital hypoplasia, pituitary hypoplasia, absence of the optic nerves and/or chiasm, developmental delay, digital malformations, and cerebellar dysplasia.

Autosomal dominant
Treatment Options: 

Cataracts can be removed in selected individuals with potential visual function.  Socket prostheses should be considered in anophthalmia and extreme microphthalmia.  Low vision devices, Braille, and mobility training should be initiated early when appropriate.  Hearing evaluations should be done as soon as practical.

Learning specialists and special education facilities should be available for selected patients.  Polydactyly, syndactyly, skull, and cleft palate repairs may be indicated.

Article Title: 

Mutations in BMP4 cause eye, brain, and digit developmental anomalies: overlap between the BMP4 and hedgehog signaling pathways

Bakrania P, Efthymiou M, Klein JC, Salt A, Bunyan DJ, Wyatt A, Ponting CP, Martin A, Williams S, Lindley V, Gilmore J, Restori M, Robson AG, Neveu MM, Holder GE, Collin JR, Robinson DO, Farndon P, Johansen-Berg H, Gerrelli D, Ragge NK. Mutations in BMP4 cause eye, brain, and digit developmental anomalies: overlap between the BMP4 and hedgehog signaling pathways. Am J Hum Genet. 2008 Feb;82(2):304-19.

PubMed ID: 
Subscribe to RSS - microphthalmia with brain and digit anomalies