In previous studies 1-3 % of ALS patients have TARDBP mutations as the cause of the disease. TARDBP mutations have been reported in ALS patients in different populations but so far there are no studies on the frequency of TARDBP mutations in Finnish ALS patients. A cohort of 50 Finnish patients, 44 SALS and 6 FALS patients, were included in the study. Genomic DNA was extracted from venous blood or muscle tissue and a mutation analysis of TARDBP was performed. No definitely pathogenic mutations could be identified in TARDBP in our patient cohort. However, two previously unknown variations were found: one silent mutation in exon 2 and one relatively deep intronic single nucleotide insertion in intron 5. In addition, two previously known non-pathogenic polymorphisms in intron 5 were detected. The size of our cohort is obviously not large enough to conclusively exclude TARDBP mutations as a very rare cause of ALS in Finland. However, based on our results TARDBP mutations do not appear to be a frequent cause of familial or sporadic ALS in Finland.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; mutation screening; TARDBP
We report an improvement in symptoms of heart failure, a reduced left ventricular dysfunction and induced reverse remodelling in one patient with Myotonic Dystrophy type 1, showing an early onset ventricular dysfunction secondary to a complete left bundle branch block (LBBB) who underwent cardioverter defibrillator CRT (ICD- CRT) implantation.
myotonic dystrophy; cardiac resynchronization therapy; sudden death
The author presents the chronological development of therapy by corticosteroids in myasthenia gravis (MG), as well as dilemmas connected to this kind of treatment at the Centre/Institute Zagreb, she founded. The improvement of postoperative prognosis of thymectomy with corticosteroids is described and transfer of positive experiences to other neurological diseases. The side effects can be reduced significantly by respecting the basic rules: the choice of corticosteroids (fluocortolone, methyprednisolone, no dexamethasone), single dose administered in the morning, not later than 8 a.m. (respecting the circadian rhythm of concentration of cortisol in blood). Initially, the high dose is administered daily, until the stabilisation of signs and symptoms improvement. Then, in my early modification, the initial dose, administered every other day, becames gradually lowered. The diet is similar to diabetic, with the potassium added. In the period from 1973 to 1990, 212 myasthenia gravis and 37 polymyositis patients were treated that way.
We recommend to continue endocrinological research, on which we already reported, now with contemporary methods. The value of the "pulse therapy" should be analysed in more details, with peroral corticosteroids added afterwards.
Myasthenia gravis; corticosteroids
Myotonic dystrophy type 2 (DM2) is caused by CCTG-repeat expansions. Occurrence of splicing and mutations in the muscle chloride channel gene CLCN1 have been reported to contribute to the phenotype. To examine the effect of CLCN1 in DM2 in Germany, we determined the frequency of a representative ClC1 mutation, R894X, and its effect on DM2 clinical features. Then, we examined CLCN1 mRNA splice variants in patient muscle functionally expressed the most abundant variant, and determined its subcellular localization. Finally, we established a cellular system for studying mouse clcn1 pre-mRNA splicing and tested effects of expression of (CCUG)18, (CUG)24 and (AAG)24 RNAs. The R894X mutation was present in 7.7% of DM2 families. DM2 R894X-carriers had more myotonia and myalgia than non-carriers. The most abundant CLCN1 splice variant in DM2 (80% of all transcripts) excluded exons 6-7 and lead to a truncated ClC1236X protein. Heterologous ClC1236X expression did not yield functional channels. Co-expression with ClC1 did not show a dominant negative effect, but a slightly suppressive effect. In C2C12 cells, the clc1 splice variants generated by (CCUG)18-RNA resembled those in DM2 muscle and differed from those generated by (CUG)24 and (AAG)24. We conclude that ClC1 mutations exert gene dose effects and enhance myotonia and pain in DM2 in Germany. Additionally, the ClC1236X splice variant may contribute to myotonia in DM2. Since splice variants depend on the types of repeats expressed in the cellular C2C12 model, similar cell models of other tissues may be useful for studying repeatdependent pathogenetic mechanisms more easily than in transgenic animals.
PROMM; myotonic dystrophy; chloride channel
The periodic paralyses are hereditary muscle diseases which cause both episodic and permanent weakness. Permanent weakness may include both reversible and fixed components, the latter caused by fibrosis and fatty replacement. To determine the degree of handicap and impact of permanent weakness on daily life, we conducted a 68-question online survey of 66 patients over 41 years (mean age, 60 ± 14 years). Permanent weakness occurred in 68%, muscle pain in 82% and muscle fatigue in 89%. Eighty-three percent of patients reported themselves as moderately to very active between ages 18-35. At the time of the survey only 14% reported themselves as moderately to very active. Contrary to the literature, only 21% of patients reported decreased frequency of episodic weakness with increased age. Sixty-seven percent had incurred injuries due to falls. Mobility aids were required by 49%. Strength increased in 49% of patients receiving professional physiotherapy and in 62% performing self-managed exercise routines. A decline of strength was observed by 40% with professional and by 16% with self-managed exercise routine, suggesting that overworking muscles may not be beneficial. There is an average of 26 years between age at onset and age at diagnosis indicating that diagnostic schemes can be improved. In summary our data suggests that permanent muscle weakness has a greater impact on the quality of life of patients than previously anticipated.
periodic paralysis; myopathy; paramyotonia congenita
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a disease linked to the X-chromosome which affects 1 in 3,600-6,000 newborn males. It is manifested by the absence of the dystrophin protein in muscle fibres, which causes progressive damage leading to death in the third decade of life. The only medication so far shown to be effective in delaying the progression of this illness are corticosteroids, which have been shown to increase muscle strength in randomised controlled studies; long-term studies have demonstrated that they prolong walking time and retard the progression of respiratory dysfunction, dilated cardiomyopathy and scoliosis. Several potential drugs are now being investigated. Genetic therapy, involving the insertion of a dystrophin gene through a vector, has proven effective in animals but not humans. Currently under clinical study is Ataluren, a molecule that binds with ribosomes and may allow the insertion of an aminoacid in the premature termination codon, and exon-skipping, which binds with RNA and excludes specific sites of RNA splicing, producing a dystrophin that is smaller but functional. There are also studies attempting to modulate other muscular proteins, such as myostatin and utrophin, to reduce symptoms. This paper does not address cardiomyopathy treatment in DMD patients.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy; drug treatment; clinical
Cardiomyopathy is an almost universal finding in boys affected by Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Myocardial changes, as a result of the lack of dystrophin, consist of cell membrane degradation, interstitial inflammation, fatty replacement and fibrosis.
Dystrophinopathic cardiomyopathy generally starts as a preclinical or intermediate stage, with evolution toward advanced stages characterized by ventricle enlargement but also by symptoms and signs of heart failure (dyspnoea, peripheral edema and liver enlargement). However in few patients the dilation could be the first manifestation of the heart involvement.
The ability to detect overt cardiomyopathy increases with age, such that more than 80% of boys older than 18 years will have abnormal systolic function.
Several drugs have been employed with the aim to contrast the evolution of cardiomyopathy toward stages of severe congestive heart failure. A review of cardiac treatment in DMD and personal experience are reported and discussed.
Dystrophinopathic cardiomyopathy; deflazacort; ACE-inhibitors
In 1988, we familiarised ourselves at Poitiers with the concept of operative treatment of the lower limbs and the spine in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) patients which Yves Rideau and his collaborators (1, 2) had developed there in the early 1980s. Thereupon, we immediately established the techniques at our home universities, first at the Technische Universität Aachen and, from 1999 on, at the Universitätsklinikum Erlangen, Germany. Since then, we have applied the technique to more than 500 DMD patients in total by performing more than 800 operations on the lower limbs and/or spine. In support of findings reported by Professor Rideau in this issue (3) we observed that, where patients are still ambulatory at the time of operation, the operation delays the point at which patients become wheelchair-bound by about two years. Likewise, patients receiving this treatment were/are also able to perform the Gowers' manoeuvre for around two years longer (4-6).
Duchenne muscular dystrophy; prophylactic surgery; prevention of scoliosis
"In never considering neuromuscular disease to be untreatable, Yves Rideau has found ways to ameliorate every aspect of these conditions. His work has resulted in immeasurably enhancing the quality of life of his patients". This dedication included into the Guide to Evaluation in Management of Neuromuscular Diseases, 1999, made by a coworker who studied in Poitiers from 1981 to 1983, summarizes the content of this paper.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy; rehabilitation; surgery; ventilation
Recently we reported a cytoplasmic sodium overload to cause a severe osmotic oedema in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Our results suggested that this dual overload of sodium ions and water precedes the dystrophic process and persists until fatty muscle degeneration is complete. The present paper addresses the questions as to whether these overloads are important for the pathogenesis of the disease, and if so, whether they can be treated. As a first step, we investigated the effects of various diuretic drugs on a cell model of DMD, i.e. rat diaphragm strips previously exposed to amphotericin B. We found that both carbonic anhydrase inhibitors and aldosterone antagonists were able to repolarise depolarised muscle fibres. Since carbonic anhydrase inhibitors are known to have acidifying effects and this might be detrimental to the ventilation of DMD patients, we mainly concentrated on the modern spironolactone derivative, eplerenone. This drug had a very high repolarizing power, the parameter considered by us as being most relevant for a beneficial effect. In a pilot study we administered this drug to a 22-yr-old female DMD patient who was bound to an electric wheelchair and has had no corticosteroid therapy before. Eplerenone decreased both cytoplasmic sodium and water overload and increased muscle strength and mobility. We conclude that eplerenone has beneficial effects on DMD muscle. In our opinion the cytoplasmic oedema is cytotoxic and should be treated before fatty degeneration takes place.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy; eplerenone; cytotoxic oedema
Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a lethal X-linked muscle disease affecting 1/3500 live male birth. It results from defects in the subsarcolemmal protein dystrophin, a component of the dystrophinglycoprotein complex (DGC) which links the intracellular cytoskeleton to the extracellular matrix. The absence of dystrophin leads to muscle membrane fragility, muscle necrosis and gradual replacement of skeletal muscle by fat and connective tissue, through a complex and still unclear cascade of interconnecting events. No cure is currently available, with glucocorticoids being the sole drugs in clinical use in spite of their remarkable side effects. A great effort is devoted at performing pre-clinical tests on the mdx mouse, the mostly used homologous animal model for DMD, with the final aim to identify drugs safer than steroids and able to target the pathogenic mechanisms so to delay pathology progression. This review updates the efforts on this topic, focusing on the open issues about the animal model and highlighting the classes of pharmaceuticals that are more promising as diseasemodifiers, while awaiting for more corrective therapies. Although caution is necessary in data transfer from mdx model to DMD patients, the implementation of standard operating procedures and the growing understanding of the pathology may allow a more accurate evaluation of therapeutics, alone or in combination, in pre-clinical settings. A continuous cross-talk with clinicians and patients associations are also crucial points for proper translation of data from mouse to bedside.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy; mdx mouse model; pharmaceuticals; pre-clinical studies; translational research
Steroids have been used since two decades and several trials were conducted to establish their efficacy in DMD patients with various regimens. The clinical outcomes showed increased function in the treated boys, and in a single trial with deflazacort, prolongation of ambulation but with different side effects. Steroids clinical efficacy is now established. The main concern is to increase steroid efficacy and decrease side effect and toxicity. A trial comparing daily prednisone, deflazacort and intermittent glucocorticoids (prednisone 10 days on/10 days off) (FOR-DMD) is starting under NIH grant. The primary outcomes will be muscle strength, forced vital capacity and patient/parents satisfaction.
Steroids; Duchenne; DMD; side effect; quality of life
Deflazacort is the most commonly prescribed corticosteroid for the treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy in Canada. We review the long term experience with deflazacort treatment at two centers in Canada; Montreal and Toronto. Deflazacort has benefitted both cohorts by prolonged ambulation, preserved cardiac and respiratory function, less scoliosis and improved survival. Common side effects in both cohorts include weight gain, decreased height and cataract formation. The Canadian experience supports the use of deflazacort in treating boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Deflazacort; Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy; Canada
Case histories of two unrelated patients suffering from sensory ataxic neuropathy, dysarthria/ dysphagia and external ophthalmoplegia (SANDO) are reported. Both patients showed compound heterozygosity for POLG1 gene mutations, and presented with symptom of the clinical characteristics of SANDO. A patient with a p.A467T and p.W748S, well-known mutations showed a progressive course with early onset and multisystem involvement, including symptoms characteristics for mitochondrial neurogastrointestinal encephalomyopathy (MNGIE). The second patient showed a less well-known p.T251I and p.G848S mutations with late onset and dysphagia/dysarthria dominated, moderate symptoms. This later is the second published case history, when these POLG1 gene mutations are the possible background of late onset SANDO, dominantly presenting with bulbar symptoms.
SANDO; heterozygote POLG1 mutations
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.
BMD; dystrophin; deletion; exon 26