With the possible introduction of exon skipping therapy in Duchenne muscular dystrophy, it has become increasingly important to know the role of each exon of the dystrophin gene to protein expression, and thus the phenotype. In this report, we present two related men with an unusually mild BMD associated with an exon 26 deletion. The proband, a 23-year-old man, had slightly delayed motor milestones, walking 1½ years old. He had no complaints of muscle weakness, but had muscle pain. Clinical examination revealed no muscle wasting or loss of power, but his CK was 1500-7000 U/l. Muscle biopsy showed dystrophic changes. He had comorbidity with dystonia, slight mental retardation, low stature and neuropathy. The brother of the proband's mother came to medical attention when he was 43 years old. He complained about muscle pain. On examination, a MRC grade 4+ hip extention palsy and a discrete calf hypertrophy was noted. Creatine kinase was normal or raised maximally to 500U/l. The muscle biopsy was myopathic with increased fiber size variation and many internal nuclei, but no dystrophy. No comorbidity was found. In both cases, western blot showed a reduced dystrophin band. Genetic evaluation revealed a deletion of exon 26 of the dystrophin gene in both. This is the first description of patients with a exon 26 deletion of the dystrophin gene. Assuming the proband's comorbidity is unrelated, exon 26 deletion results in a very mild phenotype. This might be of interest in planning exon skipping therapy for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. This report also shows that BMD may present with a normal CK.
Key words: BMD, dystrophin, deletion, exon 26