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Multiple cutaneous and mucosal venous malformations
(often shortened to VMCM)
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Reviewed August 2009
What is VMCM?
Multiple cutaneous and mucosal venous malformations (also known as VMCM) are bluish patches (lesions) on the skin (cutaneous) and the mucous membranes, such as the lining of the mouth and nose. These lesions represent areas where the underlying veins and other blood vessels did not develop properly (venous malformations). The lesions can be painful, especially when they extend from the skin into the muscles and joints, or when a calcium deposit forms within the lesion causing inflammation and swelling.
Most people with VMCM are born with at least one venous malformation. As affected individuals age, the lesions present from birth usually become larger and new lesions often appear. The size, number, and location of venous malformations vary among affected individuals, even among members of the same family.
How common is VMCM?
VMCM appears to be a rare disorder, although its prevalence is unknown.
What genes are related to VMCM?
Mutations in the TEK gene (also called the TIE2 gene) cause VMCM. The TEK gene provides instructions for making a protein called TEK receptor tyrosine kinase. This receptor protein triggers chemical signals needed for forming blood vessels (angiogenesis) and maintaining their structure. This signaling process facilitates communication between two types of cells within the walls of blood vessels, endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells. Communication between these two cell types is necessary to direct angiogenesis and ensure the structure and integrity of blood vessels.
TEK gene mutations that cause VMCM result in a TEK receptor that is always turned on (overactive). An overactive TEK receptor is thought to disrupt the communication between endothelial cells and smooth muscle cells. It is unclear how a lack of communication between these cells causes venous malformations. These abnormal blood vessels show a deficiency of smooth muscle cells while endothelial cells are maintained. Venous malformations cause lesions below the surface of the skin or mucous membranes, which are characteristic of VMCM.
Read more about the TEK gene.
How do people inherit VMCM?
VMCM is inherited in an autosomal dominant pattern, which means one copy of the altered gene in each cell is sufficient to increase the risk of developing venous malformations.
Some gene mutations are acquired during a person's lifetime and are present only in certain cells. These changes, which are not inherited, are called somatic mutations. Researchers have discovered that some VMCM lesions have one inherited and one somatic TEK gene mutation. It is not known if the somatic mutation occurs before or after the venous malformation forms. As lesions are localized and not all veins are malformed, it is thought that the inherited mutation alone is not enough to cause venous malformations.
In most cases, an affected person has one parent with the condition.
Where can I find information about diagnosis or management of VMCM?
These resources address the diagnosis or management of VMCM and may include treatment providers.
General information about the diagnosis and management of genetic conditions is available in the Handbook. Read more about genetic testing, particularly the difference between clinical tests and research tests.
To locate a healthcare provider, see How can I find a genetics professional in my area? in the Handbook.
Where can I find additional information about VMCM?
You may find the following resources about VMCM helpful. These materials are written for the general public.
You may also be interested in these resources, which are designed for healthcare professionals and researchers.
What other names do people use for VMCM?
What if I still have specific questions about VMCM?
Where can I find general information about genetic conditions?
The Handbook provides basic information about genetics in clear language.
These links provide additional genetics resources that may be useful.
What glossary definitions help with understanding VMCM?
angiogenesis ; autosomal ; autosomal dominant ; calcium ; cell ; cutaneous ; deficiency ; endothelial cells ; gene ; inflammation ; kinase ; lesion ; malformation ; mucocutaneous ; mucous ; mutation ; prevalence ; protein ; receptor ; somatic mutation ; tyrosine ; veins
You may find definitions for these and many other terms in the Genetics Home Reference Glossary.
See also Understanding Medical Terminology.
References (5 links)
The resources on this site should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice. Users seeking information about a personal genetic disease, syndrome, or condition should consult with a qualified healthcare professional. See How can I find a genetics professional in my area? in the Handbook.