Genetics and Molecular Biology
Print version ISSN 1415-4757
SANTOS, Silvana et al. Inbreeding levels in Northeast Brazil: strategies for the prospecting of new genetic disorders. Genet. Mol. Biol. [online]. 2010, vol.33, n.2, pp. 220-223. Epub Mar 12, 2010. ISSN 1415-4757. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S1415-47572010005000020.
A new autosomal recessive genetic condition, the SPOAN syndrome (an acronym for spastic paraplegia, optic atrophy and neuropathy syndrome), was recently discovered in an isolated region of the State of Rio Grande do Norte in Northeast Brazil, in a population that was identified by the IBGE (Brazilian Institute of Geography and Statistics) as belonging to the Brazilian communities with the highest rates of "deficiencies" (Neri, 2003), a term used to describe diseases, malformations, and handicaps in general. This prompted us to conduct a study of consanguinity levels in five of its municipal districts by directly interviewing their inhabitants. Information on 7,639 couples (corresponding to about 40% of the whole population of the studied districts) was obtained. The research disclosed the existence of very high frequencies of consanguineous marriages, which varied from about 9% to 32%, suggesting the presence of a direct association between genetic diseases such as the SPOAN syndrome, genetic drift and inbreeding levels. This fact calls for the introduction of educational programs for the local populations, as well as for further studies aiming to identify and characterize other genetic conditions. Epidemiological strategies developed to collect inbreeding data, with the collaboration of health systems available in the region, might be very successful in the prospecting of genetic disorders.
Keywords : Inbreeding levels; genetic drift; geographic isolation.