Introduction: Congenital hypothyroidism (CH), the most common neonatal endocrine disorder worldwide, can be caused by variants in the thyroid peroxidase (TPO) gene. This study aimed to identify TPO variants in Chinese patients with CH, analyze their impact on TPO function, and establish relationships between TPO genotypes and clinical characteristics. Methods: A total of 328 patients with CH were screened for TPO variants by performing whole-exome sequencing. The function of the detected TPO variants was investigated via transfection assays in vitro. The pathogenic effect of five novel variants was further assessed in silico. Results: Among 328 patients with CH, 19 TPO variants, including six novel ones, were identified in 43 patients. Eighteen patients (5.5%) carried biallelic TPO variants. In vitro experiments showed that TPO activity was impaired to varying degrees in 17 variants. Furthermore, we determined that a residual TPO enzyme activity threshold of 15% may serve as a criterion for differentiating CH severity. Conclusions: According to our study, the prevalence of TPO variants among Chinese patients with CH was 13.1%. Five novel variants led to impaired TPO function by altering its structure or by affecting its expression or cellular localization, which should result in impaired thyroid hormone synthesis.

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