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INTRODUCTION: Ultra-rare mendelian osteolytic disorders caused by different length in-frame activating duplications within exon 1 of TNFRSF11A encoding receptor activator of nuclear factor-kappa B (RANK) comprise familial expansile osteolysis (FEO), expansile skeletal hyperphosphatasia (ESH), early-onset familial Paget's disease of bone (PDB2), juvenile Paget's disease 2 (JPD2), and panostotic expansile bone disease (PEBD). FEO typically presents with childhood-onset deafness followed by resorption of permanent dentition, and then appendicular bone pain, fractures, and deformities from progressive focal expansile osteolytic lesions emerging from a background of generalized high bone turnover. An 18-bp duplication in TNFRSF11A has been reported in all kindreds with FEO, whereas a 12-bp duplication was found in the young man with PEBD complicated by a massive jaw tumor. We report the clinical course and successful treatment with bisphosphonates of a girl with the 12-bp duplication yet a skeletal phenotype seemingly milder than PEBD.
CASE PRESENTATION AND DISCUSSION: This 10-year-old girl presented for dental and orthodontic treatment and was found to have progressive external tooth root resorption. Speech delay was identified at age 18 months, and audiological evaluation showed both conductive and sensorineural hearing loss subsequently treated with a cochlear implant at age 3 years. Biochemical studies indicated increased bone turnover with elevated urinary N-telopeptide levels and serum alkaline phosphatase in the upper normal range. Low lumbar spine bone mineral density (BMD) was revealed by dual-energy X-ray absorptiometry, but whole-body Technetium-99 m bone scintigraphy was normal. Genetic testing identified the identical de novo 12-bp duplication within exon 1 of TNFRSF11A harbored by the young man with PEBD and massive jaw tumor. Bisphosphonate treatment, initiated with one dose of intravenous zoledronic acid that caused prolonged hypocalcemia, then comprised weekly oral alendronate that decreased bone turnover markers and normalized her BMD.
CONCLUSION: Constitutive activation of RANK signaling should be considered a possible cause in any young person with rapid bone turnover, particularly in the context of early-onset deafness and/or root resorption of permanent teeth. Early diagnosis and anti-resorptive treatment, given judiciously to avoid sudden and prolonged hypocalcemia, may prevent further skeletal disease.