In the last few years some of the therapeutical approaches for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) are specifically targeting distinct groups of mutations, such as deletions eligible for skipping of individual exons. The aim of this observational study was to establish whether patients with distinct groups of mutations have different profiles of changes on the 6 minute walk test (6MWT) over a 12 month period.
The 6MWT was performed in 191 ambulant DMD boys at baseline and 12 months later. The results were analysed using a test for heterogeneity in order to establish possible differences among different types of mutations (deletions, duplications, point mutations) and among subgroups of deletions eligible to skip individual exons.
At baseline the 6MWD ranged between 180 and 560,80 metres (mean 378,06, SD 74,13). The 12 month changes ranged between −325 and 175 (mean −10.8 meters, SD 69.2). Although boys with duplications had better results than those with the other types of mutations, the difference was not significant.
Similarly, boys eligible for skipping of the exon 44 had better baseline results and less drastic changes than those eligible for skipping exon 45 or 53, but the difference was not significant.
even if there are some differences among subgroups, the mean 12 month changes in each subgroup were all within a narrow Range: from the mean of the whole DMD cohort. This information will be of help at the time of designing clinical trials with small numbers of eligible patients.
Gain-of-function mutations of KCNJ11 can cause permanent neonatal diabetes mellitus, but only rarely after 6 months of age. Specific uncommon mutations KCNJ11 give rise to a syndrome defined as developmental delay, epilepsy, and neonatal diabetes (DEND), or – more frequently – to a milder sub-type lacking epilepsy, denoted as intermediate-DEND (iDEND). Our aim was to consider a possible monogenic etiology in a 12-yr-old boy with early onset diabetes and mild neurological features. We studied a subject diagnosed with diabetes at 21 months of age, and negative to type 1 diabetes autoantibodies testing. He had learning difficulties during primary school, and a single episode of seizures at the age of 10 yr. We performed direct DNA sequencing of the KCNJ11 gene with subsequent functional study of mutated channels in COSm6 cells. The patient's clinical response to oral glyburide (Glyb) was assessed. Motor coordination was evaluated before and after 6 and 12 months of Glyb therapy. Sequencing of the KCNJ11 gene detected the novel, spontaneous mutation S225T, combined with deletion of amino acids 226–232. In vitro studies revealed that the mutation results in a KATP channel with reduced sensitivity to the inhibitory action of ATP. Glyb improved diabetes control (hemoglobin A1c on insulin: 52 mmol/mol/6.9%; on Glyb: 36 mmol/mol/5.4%) and also performance on motor coordination tests that were impaired before the switch of therapy. We conclude that KCNJ11/S225T, del226-232 mutation caused a mild iDEND form in our patient. KCNJ11 should be considered as the etiology of diabetes even beyond the neonatal period if present in combination with negative autoantibody testing and even mild neurological symptoms.
developmental delay; glyburide; infancy onset diabetes; KCNJ11; mutation
To test the effect of the single nucleotide polymorphism −66 T>G (rs28357094) in the osteopontin gene (SPP1) on functional measures over 12 months in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).
This study was conducted on a cohort of ambulatory patients with DMD from a network of Italian neuromuscular centers, evaluated longitudinally with the North Star Ambulatory Assessment (NSAA) and the 6-Minute Walk Test (6MWT) at study entry and after 12 months. Genotype at rs28357094 was determined after completion of the clinical evaluations. Patients were stratified in 2 groups according to a dominant model (TT homozygotes vs TG heterozygotes and GG homozygotes) and clinical data were retrospectively compared between groups.
Eighty patients were selected (age 4.1–19.3 years; mean 8.3 ± 2.7 SD). There were no differences in age or steroid treatment between the 2 subgroups. Paired t test showed a significant difference in both NSAA (p = 0.013) and 6MWT (p = 0.03) between baseline and follow-up after 12 months in patients with DMD carrying the G allele. The difference was not significant in the T subgroup. The analysis of covariance using age and baseline values as covariate and SPP1 genotype as fixed effect showed that these parameters are significantly correlated with the 12-month values.
These data provide evidence of the role of SPP1 genotype as a disease modifier in DMD and support its relevance in the selection of homogeneous groups of patients for future clinical trials.
The Dandy-Walker malformation (DWM) is one of the commonest congenital cerebellar defects, and can be associated with multiple congenital anomalies and chromosomal syndromes. The occurrence of overlapping 3q deletions including the ZIC1 and ZIC4 genes in few patients, along with data from mouse models, have implicated both genes in the pathogenesis of DWM.
Methods and results
Using a SNP-array approach, we recently identified three novel patients carrying heterozygous 3q deletions encompassing ZIC1 and ZIC4. Magnetic resonance imaging showed that only two had a typical DWM, while the third did not present any defect of the DWM spectrum. SNP-array analysis in further eleven children diagnosed with DWM failed to identify deletions of ZIC1-ZIC4. The clinical phenotype of the three 3q deleted patients included multiple congenital anomalies and peculiar facial appearance, related to the localization and extension of each deletion. In particular, phenotypes resulted from the variable combination of three recognizable patterns: DWM (with incomplete penetrance); blepharophimosis, ptosis, and epicanthus inversus syndrome; and Wisconsin syndrome (WS), recently mapped to 3q.
Our data indicate that the 3q deletion is a rare defect associated with DWM, and suggest that the hemizygosity of ZIC1-ZIC4 genes is neither necessary nor sufficient per se to cause this condition. Furthermore, based on a detailed comparison of clinical features and molecular data from 3q deleted patients, we propose clinical diagnostic criteria and refine the critical region for WS.
Dandy-Walker malformation; Wisconsin syndrome; 3q deletion; ZIC1-ZIC4 genes
Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is the most common lethal recessive disease in childhood, and there is currently no effective treatment to halt disease progression. The translation of scientific advances into effective therapies is hampered by major roadblocks in clinical trials, including the complex regulatory environment in Europe, variations in standards of care, patient ascertainment and enrolment, a narrow therapeutic window and a lack of biomarkers of efficacy. In this context, SMA-Europe organized its first international workshop in July 2012 in Rome, gathering 34 scientists, clinicians and representatives of patient organizations to establish recommendations for improving clinical trials for SMAa.
Spinal muscular atrophy; Clinical trials; Preclinical drug selection; Phase III trial planning; Patient registries; Neonatal trials; Newborn screening; Standards of care; European regulations; Efficacy biomarkers
Mutations in dynamin 2 (DNM2) gene cause autosomal dominant centronuclear myopathy and occur in around 50% of patients with centronuclear myopathy. We report clinical, morphological, muscle imaging and genetic data of 10 unrelated Italian patients with centronuclear myopathy related to DNM2 mutations. Our results confirm the clinical heterogeneity of this disease, underlining some peculiar clinical features, such as severe pulmonary impairment and jaw contracture that should be considered in the clinical follow-up of these patients. Muscle MRI showed a distinct pattern of involvement, with predominant involvement of soleus and tibialis anterior in the lower leg muscles, followed by hamstring muscles and adductor magnus at thigh level and gluteus maximus. The detection of three novel DNM2 mutations and the first case of somatic mosaicism further expand the genetic spectrum of the disease.
DNM2; Centronuclear myopathy; Muscle MRI; ‘Necklace’ fibers; Somatic mosaicism
The aim of the study was i) to assess the spectrum of changes over 24 months in ambulant boys affected by Duchenne muscular dystrophy, ii) to establish the difference between the first and the second year results and iii) to identify possible early markers of loss of ambulation.
One hundred and thirteen patients (age range 4.1–17, mean 8.2) fulfilled the inclusion criteria, 67 of the 113 were on daily and 40 on intermittent steroids, while 6 were not on steroids. All were assessed using the 6 Minute Walk Test (6MWT), the North Star Ambulatory Assessment (NSAA) and timed test.
On the 6MWT there was an average overall decline of −22.7 (SD 81.0) in the first year and of −64.7 (SD 123.1) in the second year. On the NSAA the average overall decline was of −1.86 (SD 4.21) in the first year and of −2.98 (SD 5.19) in the second year. Fourteen children lost ambulation, one in the first year and the other 13 in the second year of the study. A distance of at least 330 meters on the 6MWT, or a NSAA score of 18 at baseline reduced significantly the risk of losing ambulation within 2 years.
These results can be of help at the time of using inclusion criteria for a study in ambulant patients in order to minimize the risk of patients who may lose ambulation within the time of the trial.
The aim of this study was to perform a longitudinal assessment using Quantitative Muscle Testing (QMT) in a cohort of ambulant boys affected by Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and to correlate the results of QMT with functional measures. This study is to date the most thorough long-term evaluation of QMT in a cohort of DMD patients correlated with other measures, such as the North Star Ambulatory Assessment (NSAA) or thee 6-min walk test (6MWT).
This is a single centre, prospective, non-randomised, study assessing QMT using the Kin Com® 125 machine in a study cohort of 28 ambulant DMD boys, aged 5 to 12 years. This cohort was assessed longitudinally over a 12 months period of time with 3 monthly assessments for QMT and with assessment of functional abilities, using the NSAA and the 6MWT at baseline and at 12 months only. QMT was also used in a control group of 13 healthy age-matched boys examined at baseline and at 12 months.
There was an increase in QMT over 12 months in boys below the age of 7.5 years while in boys above the age of 7.5 years, QMT showed a significant decrease. All the average one-year changes were significantly different than those experienced by healthy controls. We also found a good correlation between quantitative tests and the other measures that was more obvious in the stronger children.
Our longitudinal data using QMT in a cohort of DMD patients suggest that this could be used as an additional tool to monitor changes, providing additional information on segmental strength.
Although Duchenne and Becker muscular dystrophies, X-linked recessive myopathies, predominantly affect males, a clinically significant proportion of females manifesting symptoms have also been reported. They represent an heterogeneous group characterized by variable degrees of muscle weakness and/or cardiac involvement. Though preferential inactivation of the normal X chromosome has long been considered the principal mechanism behind disease manifestation in these females, supporting evidence is controversial.
Eighteen females showing a mosaic pattern of dystrophin expression on muscle biopsy were recruited and classified as symptomatic (7) or asymptomatic (11), based on the presence or absence of muscle weakness. The causative DMD gene mutations were identified in all cases, and the X-inactivation pattern was assessed in muscle DNA. Transcriptional analysis in muscles was performed in all females, and relative quantification of wild-type and mutated transcripts was also performed in 9 carriers. Dystrophin protein was quantified by immunoblotting in 2 females.
The study highlighted a lack of relationship between dystrophic phenotype and X-inactivation pattern in females; skewed X-inactivation was found in 2 out of 6 symptomatic carriers and in 5 out of 11 asymptomatic carriers. All females were characterized by biallelic transcription, but no association was found between X-inactivation pattern and allele transcriptional balancing. Either a prevalence of wild-type transcript or equal proportions of wild-type and mutated RNAs was observed in both symptomatic and asymptomatic females. Moreover, very similar levels of total and wild-type transcripts were identified in the two groups of carriers.
This is the first study deeply exploring the DMD transcriptional behaviour in a cohort of female carriers. Notably, no relationship between X-inactivation pattern and transcriptional behaviour of DMD gene was observed, suggesting that the two mechanisms are regulated independently. Moreover, neither the total DMD transcript level, nor the relative proportion of the wild-type transcript do correlate with the symptomatic phenotype.
Dystrophinopathy; Female carriers; X-inactivation; Transcriptional balancing
The need for a collaborative approach to complex inherited diseases collectively referred to as laminopathies, encouraged Italian researchers, geneticists, physicians and patients to join in the Italian Network for Laminopathies, in 2009. Here, we highlight the advantages and added value of such a multidisciplinary effort to understand pathogenesis, clinical aspects and try to find a cure for Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy, Mandibuloacral dysplasia, Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria and forms of lamin-linked cardiomyopathy, neuropathy and lipodystrophy.
Laminopathies; Emery-Dreifuss Muscular Dystrophy; Dilated Cardiomyopathy with Conduction Defects; Mandibuloacral Dysplasia; Familial Partial Lipodystrophy Type 2; Hutchinson-Gilford Progeria Syndrome; Rare Diseases; Networking activity; interdisciplinary approach to diseases
Childhood cerebellar ataxias, and particularly congenital ataxias, are heterogeneous disorders and several remain undefined. We performed a muscle biopsy in patients with congenital ataxia and children with later onset undefined ataxia having neuroimaging evidence of cerebellar atrophy. Significant reduced levels of Coenzyme Q10 (COQ10) were found in the skeletal muscle of 9 out of 34 patients that were consecutively screened. A mutation in the ADCK3/Coq8 gene (R347X) was identified in a female patient with ataxia, seizures and markedly reduced COQ10 levels. In a 2.5-years-old male patient with non syndromic congenital ataxia and autophagic vacuoles in the muscle biopsy we identified a homozygous nonsense mutation R111X mutation in SIL1 gene, leading to early diagnosis of Marinesco-Sjogren syndrome. We think that muscle biopsy is a valuable procedure to improve diagnostic assesement in children with congenital ataxia or other undefined forms of later onset childhood ataxia associated to cerebellar atrophy at MRI.
Inherited cerebellar ataxias; Marinesco-Sjogren syndrome; Coenzyme Q10 deficiency
Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is an autosomal recessive neuromuscular disease characterized by degeneration of alpha motor neurons in the spinal cord, resulting in progressive proximal muscle weakness and paralysis. Estimated incidence is 1 in 6,000 to 1 in 10,000 live births and carrier frequency of 1/40-1/60. This disease is characterized by generalized muscle weakness and atrophy predominating in proximal limb muscles, and phenotype is classified into four grades of severity (SMA I, SMAII, SMAIII, SMA IV) based on age of onset and motor function achieved. This disease is caused by homozygous mutations of the survival motor neuron 1 (SMN1) gene, and the diagnostic test demonstrates in most patients the homozygous deletion of the SMN1 gene, generally showing the absence of SMN1 exon 7. The test achieves up to 95% sensitivity and nearly 100% specificity. Differential diagnosis should be considered with other neuromuscular disorders which are not associated with increased CK manifesting as infantile hypotonia or as limb girdle weakness starting later in life.
Considering the high carrier frequency, carrier testing is requested by siblings of patients or of parents of SMA children and are aimed at gaining information that may help with reproductive planning. Individuals at risk should be tested first and, in case of testing positive, the partner should be then analyzed. It is recommended that in case of a request on carrier testing on siblings of an affected SMA infant, a detailed neurological examination should be done and consideration given doing the direct test to exclude SMA. Prenatal diagnosis should be offered to couples who have previously had a child affected with SMA (recurrence risk 25%). The role of follow-up coordination has to be managed by an expert in neuromuscular disorders and in SMA who is able to plan a multidisciplinary intervention that includes pulmonary, gastroenterology/nutrition, and orthopedic care. Prognosis depends on the phenotypic severity going from high mortality within the first year for SMA type 1 to no mortality for the chronic and later onset forms.
Proximal spinal muscular atrophy; SMN1; SMN2; motor neurons Disease names and synonyms: Spinal muscular atrophy 5q linked; Proximal SMA
The relationship between body composition and function in spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is poorly understood. 53 subjects with SMA were stratified by type and Hammersmith Functional Motor Scale, Expanded score into three cohorts: Low-Functioning Non-Ambulatory (type 2 with Hammersmith score <12, n=19), High-Functioning Non-Ambulatory (type 2 with Hammersmith Score ≥ 12 or non-ambulatory type 3, n=17), and Ambulatory (n=17). Lean and fat mass was estimated using dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry. Anthropometric data was incorporated to measure fat-free (lean mass in kg /stature in m2) and fat (fat mass in kg /stature in m2) mass indices, the latter compared to published age and sex norms. Feeding dysfunction among type 2 subjects was assessed by questionnaire. Fat mass index was increased in the High-Functioning Non-Ambulatory cohort (10.4 ± 4.5) compared with both the ambulatory (7.2 ± 2.1, p = 0.013) and Low-Functioning Non-Ambulatory (7.6 ± 3.1, p = 0.040) cohorts. 12 of 17 subjects (71%) in the High-Functioning Non-Ambulatory cohort had fat mass index >85th percentile for age and gender (connoting “at risk of overweight”) versus 9 of 19 subjects (47%) in the Low-Functioning Non-Ambulatory cohort and 8 of 17 ambulatory subjects (47%). Despite differences in clinical function, a similar proportion of low functioning (7/18, 39%) and high functioning (2/7, 29%) type 2 subjects reported swallowing or feeding dysfunction. Non-ambulatory patients with relatively high clinical function may be at particular risk of excess adiposity, perhaps reflecting access to excess calories despite relative immobility, emphasizing the importance of individualized nutritional management in SMA.
Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is an autosomal recessive neuromuscular disorder caused by homozygous mutations of the SMN1 gene. Three forms of SMA are recognized (type I–III) on the basis of clinical severity. All patients have at least one or more (usually 2–4) copies of a highly homologous gene (SMN2), which produces insufficient levels of functional SMN protein, because of alternative splicing of exon 7. Recently, evidence has been provided that SMN2 expression can be enhanced by pharmacological treatment. However, no reliable biomarkers are available to test the molecular efficacy of the treatments. At present, the only potential biomarker is the dosage of SMN products in peripheral blood. However, the demonstration that SMN full-length (SMN-fl) transcript levels are reduced in leukocytes of patients compared with controls remains elusive (except for type I). We have developed a novel assay based on absolute real-time PCR, which allows the quantification of SMN1-fl/SMN2-fl transcripts. For the first time, we have shown that SMN-fl levels are reduced in leukocytes of type II–III patients compared with controls. We also found that transcript levels are related to clinical severity as in type III patients SMN2-fl levels are significantly higher compared with type II and directly correlated with functional ability in type II patients and with age of onset in type III patients. Moreover, in haploidentical siblings with discordant phenotype, the less severely affected individuals showed significantly higher transcript levels. Our study shows that SMN2-fl dosage in leukocytes can be considered a reliable biomarker and can provide the rationale for SMN dosage in clinical trials.
spinal muscular atrophy; real-time PCR; biomarker; SMN; transcripts
The aim of this study was to assess visual function in 13 infants with evidence of prenatal post haemorrhagic ventricular dilatation.
Infants were assessed at 5, 12 and 24 months using a battery of tests specifically designed to assess various aspects of visual function in infancy. Visual findings were correlated with several variables, including extent of the lesion and presence of epilepsy.
Results and conclusions
Abnormalities of visual function were frequent (over 60%) in our cohort at age 2 years, ranging from isolated abnormal ocular movements to severe abnormalities of all the aspects of visual function assessed. The most severe and persistent abnormalities of visual function were found in infants with grade IV intraventricular haemorrhage and shunted hydrocephalus who also had epilepsy in the first year.
Molecular characterization of collagen-VI related myopathies currently relies on standard sequencing, which yields a detection rate approximating 75-79% in Ullrich congenital muscular dystrophy (UCMD) and 60-65% in Bethlem myopathy (BM) patients as PCR-based techniques tend to miss gross genomic rearrangements as well as copy number variations (CNVs) in both the coding sequence and intronic regions.
We have designed a custom oligonucleotide CGH array in order to investigate the presence of CNVs in the coding and non-coding regions of COL6A1, A2, A3, A5 and A6 genes and a group of genes functionally related to collagen VI. A cohort of 12 patients with UCMD/BM negative at sequencing analysis and 2 subjects carrying a single COL6 mutation whose clinical phenotype was not explicable by inheritance were selected and the occurrence of allelic and genetic heterogeneity explored.
A deletion within intron 1A of the COL6A2 gene, occurring in compound heterozygosity with a small deletion in exon 28, previously detected by routine sequencing, was identified in a BM patient. RNA studies showed monoallelic transcription of the COL6A2 gene, thus elucidating the functional effect of the intronic deletion. No pathogenic mutations were identified in the remaining analyzed patients, either within COL6A genes, or in genes functionally related to collagen VI.
Our custom CGH array may represent a useful complementary diagnostic tool, especially in recessive forms of the disease, when only one mutant allele is detected by standard sequencing. The intronic deletion we identified represents the first example of a pure intronic mutation in COL6A genes.
The aim of this paper is to review (i) the
spectrum of neuromotor function at school age in
children who had been born full-term and
presented with neonatal encephalopathy (NE) and
low Apgar scores and (ii) the relation between the
presence/absence of such difficulties and neonatal
brain MRI. Motor outcome appears to be mainly
related to the severity of basal ganglia and
internal capsule involvement. Severe basal ganglia
lesions were always associated with the most
severe outcome, microcephaly, tetraplegia, and
severe global delay, whereas more discrete basal
ganglia lesions were associated with athetoid
cerebral palsy, with normal cognitive development
or minor neuro-motor abnormalities. White
matter lesions were associated with abnormal
motor outcome only if the internal capsule was
involved. Children with moderate white matter
changes but normal internal capsule, had normal
motor outcome at school age.