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1.  Oral Ketamine in the Palliative Care Setting: A Review of the Literature and Case Report of a Patient With Neurofibromatosis Type 1 and Glomus Tumor-Associated Complex Regional Pain Syndrome 
Ketamine, an N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor antagonist, has been shown to be effective not only for its anesthetic properties but also for the analgesic and opiate-sparing effects. However, data on efficacy and safety of oral ketamine for the treatment of neuropathic or cancer pain syndromes is limited with most of the evidence based on small clinical trials and anecdotal experiences. In this review, we will analyze the clinical data on oral ketamine in the palliative care setting. After an extensive search using five major databases, a total of 19 relevant articles were included. No official clinical guidelines for the use of oral ketamine in this patient population were found. Studies on oral ketamine for cancer and neuropathic pain have shown mixed results which could be partially due to significant differences in hepatic metabolism. In addition, we will include a case report of a 38-year-old female with neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) with history of chronic, severe pain in her fingertips secondary to multiple glomus tumors which evolved into CRPS resistant to multiple therapies but responsive to oral ketamine. Based on our experience with oral ketamine, this drug should be administered after an intravenous trial to monitor response and side effects in patients with an adequate functional status. However, patients in the palliative care and hospice setting, especially the one at the end of their lives, may also benefit from oral ketamine even if an intravenous trial is not feasible.
doi:10.1177/1049909111416345
PMCID: PMC4239997  PMID: 21803784
oral ketamine; palliative care; cancer pain; neuropathic pain; neurofibromatosis type 1; complex regional pain syndrome
2.  Genetic Modifiers of Neurofibromatosis Type 1-Associated Café-au-Lait Macule Count Identified Using Multi-platform Analysis 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(10):e1004575.
Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is an autosomal dominant, monogenic disorder of dysregulated neurocutaneous tissue growth. Pleiotropy, variable expressivity and few NF1 genotype-phenotype correlates limit clinical prognostication in NF1. Phenotype complexity in NF1 is hypothesized to derive in part from genetic modifiers unlinked to the NF1 locus. In this study, we hypothesized that normal variation in germline gene expression confers risk for certain phenotypes in NF1. In a set of 79 individuals with NF1, we examined the association between gene expression in lymphoblastoid cell lines with NF1-associated phenotypes and sequenced select genes with significant phenotype/expression correlations. In a discovery cohort of 89 self-reported European-Americans with NF1 we examined the association between germline sequence variants of these genes with café-au-lait macule (CALM) count, a tractable, tumor-like phenotype in NF1. Two correlated, common SNPs (rs4660761 and rs7161) between DPH2 and ATP6V0B were significantly associated with the CALM count. Analysis with tiled regression also identified SNP rs4660761 as significantly associated with CALM count. SNP rs1800934 and 12 rare variants in the mismatch repair gene MSH6 were also associated with CALM count. Both SNPs rs7161 and rs4660761 (DPH2 and ATP6V0B) were highly significant in a mega-analysis in a combined cohort of 180 self-reported European-Americans; SNP rs1800934 (MSH6) was near-significant in a meta-analysis assuming dominant effect of the minor allele. SNP rs4660761 is predicted to regulate ATP6V0B, a gene associated with melanosome biology. Individuals with homozygous mutations in MSH6 can develop an NF1-like phenotype, including multiple CALMs. Through a multi-platform approach, we identified variants that influence NF1 CALM count.
Author Summary
Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is a relatively common genetic disease that increases the chance to develop a variety of benign and malignant tumors. People with NF1 also typically feature a large number of birthmarks called café-au-lait macules. It is difficult to predict severity or specific problems in NF1. We sought to identify genes (other than NF1, the gene that causes the disease) that influence severity in NF1. We determined the number of café-au-lait macules in two groups of people with NF1. We measured the gene expression of about 10,000 genes in the cultured white blood cells from one group of people. We then sequenced a group of genes whose expression level was increased in people with higher numbers of café-au-lait macules. In the first group, we found common variants in genes MSH6 and near DPH2 and ATP6V0B that were significantly associated with the number of café-au-lait macules. Some of these variants were close to significant in the second group of people. The two variants near DPH2 and ATP6V0B were very significant when analysed in both groups combined. Our work is among the first to identify genetic variants that influence the severity of NF1.
doi:10.1371/journal.pgen.1004575
PMCID: PMC4199479  PMID: 25329635
3.  Observations on Intelligence and Behavior in 15 Patients with Legius Syndrome 
Legius syndrome is a RAS-MAPK syndrome characterized by pigmentary findings similar to neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1), but without tumor complications. Learning difficulties and behavioral problems have been reported to be associated with Legius syndrome, but have not been studied systematically. We investigated intelligence and behavior in 15 patients with Legius syndrome and 7 unaffected family members. We report a mean full scale IQ of 101.57 in patients with Legius syndrome, which does not differ from the control group. We find a significantly lower performance IQ in children with Legius syndrome compared to their unaffected family members. Few behavioral problems are present as assessed by the Child Behavior Checklist (CBCL) questionnaire. Our observations suggest that, akin to the milder somatic phenotype, the cognitive phenotype in Legius syndrome is less severe than that of NF1.
doi:10.1002/ajmg.c.30297
PMCID: PMC3081633  PMID: 21495177
Intelligence; behavior; Legius syndrome; SPRED1; MAPK
4.  Correlation of rare coding variants in the gene encoding human glucokinase regulatory protein with phenotypic, cellular, and kinetic outcomes 
Defining the genetic contribution of rare variants to common diseases is a major basic and clinical science challenge that could offer new insights into disease etiology and provide potential for directed gene- and pathway-based prevention and treatment. Common and rare nonsynonymous variants in the GCKR gene are associated with alterations in metabolic traits, most notably serum triglyceride levels. GCKR encodes glucokinase regulatory protein (GKRP), a predominantly nuclear protein that inhibits hepatic glucokinase (GCK) and plays a critical role in glucose homeostasis. The mode of action of rare GCKR variants remains unexplored. We identified 19 nonsynonymous GCKR variants among 800 individuals from the ClinSeq medical sequencing project. Excluding the previously described common missense variant p.Pro446Leu, all variants were rare in the cohort. Accordingly, we functionally characterized all variants to evaluate their potential phenotypic effects. Defects were observed for the majority of the rare variants after assessment of cellular localization, ability to interact with GCK, and kinetic activity of the encoded proteins. Comparing the individuals with functional rare variants to those without such variants showed associations with lipid phenotypes. Our findings suggest that, while nonsynonymous GCKR variants, excluding p.Pro446Leu, are rare in individuals of mixed European descent, the majority do affect protein function. In sum, this study utilizes computational, cell biological, and biochemical methods to present a model for interpreting the clinical significance of rare genetic variants in common disease.
doi:10.1172/JCI46425
PMCID: PMC3248284  PMID: 22182842

Results 1-4 (4)