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jtitle_s:("Acta mol")
1.  Clinical features of patients with dystrophinopathy sharing the 45-55 exon deletion of DMD gene 
Acta Myologica  2015;34(1):9-13.
Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD) was first described in 1953 by Emile Becker as a benign variant of Duchenne muscular Dystrophy (DMD). Compared with DMD, BMD is clinically more heterogeneous, with initial presentation in the teenage years and loss of ambulation beyond the age of 16 and a wide spectrum of clinical presentations, ranging from only myalgias and muscle cramps to exercise intolerance and myoglobinuria, asymptomatic elevation of serum creatin-kinase, or mild limb-girdle weakness and quadriceps myopathy. About 50% of patients become symptomatic by the age of 10 and the most part by the age of 20 years. However few patients can be free of symptoms till their fifties and cases of late-onset Becker Muscular Dystrophy have also been described.
In this report we describe the clinical features of patients with dystrophinopathy sharing a deletion of exons 45-55, occasionally or retrospectively diagnosed. These data are important for both the prognostic aspects of children presenting this dystrophin gene mutation, and for the genetic counseling in these families (reassuring them on the benign course of the disease), and last but not least to keep in mind a diagnosis of BMD in asymptomatic adults with mild hyperckemia.
PMCID: PMC4478772  PMID: 26155064
Becker muscular dystrophy; dystrophin; asymptomatic BMD
2.  Psychological and practical difficulties among parents and healthy siblings of children with Duchenne vs. Becker muscular dystrophy: an Italian comparative study 
Acta Myologica  2014;33(3):136-143.
This study explored the burden in parents and healthy siblings of 4-17 year-old patients with Duchenne (DMD) and Becker (BMD) muscular dystrophies, and whether the burden varied according to clinical aspects and social resources.
Data on socio-demographic characteristics, patient's clinical history, parent and healthy children burden, and on parent's social resources were collected using self-reported questionnaires administered to 336 parents of patients with DMD (246) and BMD (90).
Parents of patients with DMD reported higher burden than those of patients with BMD, especially concerning feeling of loss (84.3% DMD vs. 57.4% BMD), stigma (44.2% DMD vs. 5.5% BMD) and neglect of hobbies (69.0% DMD vs. 32.5% BMD). Despite the burden, 66% DMD and 62.4% BMD parents stated the caregiving experience had a positive impact on their lives. A minority of parents believed MD has a negative influence on the psychological well-being (31.0% DMD vs. 12.8% BMD), and social life of unaffected children (25.7% vs. 18.4%).
In the DMD group, burden correlated with duration of illness and parent age, and burden was higher among parents with lower social contacts and support in emergencies. In DMD, difficulties among healthy children were reported as higher by parents who were older, had higher burden and lower social contacts. In both groups, burden increased in relation to patient disability.
These findings underline that the psychological support to be provided to parents of patients with MD, should take into account clinical features of the disease.
PMCID: PMC4369844  PMID: 25873782
Duchenne muscular dystrophy; Becker muscular dystrophy; parents, healthy siblings; burden; social network
3.  The effect of atrial preference pacing on atrial fibrillation electrophysiological substrate in Myotonic Dystrophy type 1 population 
Acta Myologica  2014;33(3):127-135.
P-wave dispersion is a non invasive indicator of intra-atrial conduction heterogeneity producing substrate for reentry, which is a pathophysiological mechanism of atrial fibrillation. The relationship between P-wave dispersion (PD) and atrial fibrillation (AF) in Myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) patients is still unclear. Atrial Preference Pacing (APP) is an efficient algorithm to prevent paroxysmal AF in patients implanted with dual-chamber pacemaker. Aim of our study was to evaluate the possible correlation between atrial preference pacing algorithm, P-wave dispersion and AF burden in DM1 patients with normal cardiac function underwent permanent dual-chamber pacemaker implantation.
We enrolled 50 patients with DM1 (age 50.3 ± 7.3; 11 F) underwent dual-chamber pacemaker implantation for various degree of atrioventricula block. The study population was randomized following 1 months stabilization period to APP algorithm features programmed OFF or ON. Patients were assessed every 3 months for the first year, and every 6 months thereafter up to 3 years. At each follow-up visit, we counted: the number of premature atrial beats, the number and the mean duration of AF episodes, AF burden and the percentage of atrial and ventricular pacing.
APP ON Group showed lower number of AF episodes (117 ± 25 vs. 143 ± 37; p = 0.03) and AF burden (3059 ± 275 vs. 9010 ± 630 min; p < 0.04) than APP OFF Group. Atrial premature beats count (44903 ± 30689 vs. 13720 ± 7717 beats; p = 0.005) and Pwave dispersion values (42,1 ± 11 ms vs. 29,1 ± 4,2 ms, p = 0,003) were decreased in APP ON Group. We found a significant positive correlation between PD and AF burden (R = 0,8, p = 0.007).
Atrial preference pacing algorithm, decreasing the number of atrial premature beats and the P-wave dispersion, reduces the onset and perpetuator factors of AF episodes and decreases the AF burden in DM1 patients underwent dual chamber pacemaker implantation for various degree of atrioventricular blocks and documented atrial fibrillation.
PMCID: PMC4369849  PMID: 25873781
atrial fibrillation; Myotonic Dystrophy; atrial preference pacing
4.  Atrial fibrillation burden in Myotonic Dystrophy type 1 patients implanted with dual chamber pacemaker: the efficacy of the overdrive atrial algorithm at 2 year follow-up 
Acta Myologica  2013;32(3):142-147.
The role that atrial pacing therapy plays on the atrial fibrillation (AF) burden is still unclear. Aim of the study was to evaluate the effect of the atrial preference pacing algorithm on AF burden in patients affected by Myotonic Dystrophy type 1 (DM1) followed for a long follow up period. Sixty DM1 patients were -implanted with a dual chamber pacemaker (PM) for first degree or symptomatic type 1/type 2 second degree atrio-ventricular blocks- were followed for 2-years after implantation, by periodical examination. After 1 month of stabilization, they were randomized into two groups: 1) Patients implanted with conventional dual-chamber pacing mode (DDDR group) and 2) Patients implanted with DDDR plus Atrial Preference Pacing (APP) algorithm (APP ON group).
The results showed that atrial tachycardia (AT)/AF burden was significantly reduced at 1 year follow up in the APP ON group (2122 ± 428 minutes vs 4127 ± 388 minutes, P = 0.03), with a further reduction at the end of the 2 year follow up period (4652 ± 348 minutes vs 7564 ± 638 minutes, P = 0.005).
The data here reported show that the APP is an efficient algorithm to reduce AT/AF burden in DM1 patients implanted with dual chamber pacemaker.
PMCID: PMC4006281  PMID: 24803841
Atrial overdrive algorithm; atrial preference pacing; supraventricular tachyarrhythmias; Myotonic Dystrophy type 1
5.  On a case of respiratory failure due to diaphragmatic paralysis and dilated cardiomyopathy in a patient with nemaline myopathy 
Acta Myologica  2012;31(3):201-203.
Nemaline myopathy is a rare congenital disease that generally occurs in childhood. We report a case of a 50-year-old man who presented with severe heart failure as the initial manifestation of nemaline myopathy. Soon after he developed acute restrictive respiratory failure due to the diaphragmatic paralysis. The diagnosis of "nemaline myopathy" was obtained on muscle biopsy performed one year later. After starting appropriate cardiological treatment and non-invasive ventilation, his cardiac and pulmonary functions improved substantially, remaining stable for over the 10 years since diagnosis. In the last two years the patient had a progressive deterioration of respiratory function, enabling him to attend daily activities.
Few cases of respiratory failure in patients with adult-onset nemaline myopathy are reported, but the insidious onset in this case is even more unusual. This case highlights the wide spectrum of presenting features of adult-onset nemaline myopathy and the temporary efficacy of non invasive ventilation on respiratory function.
PMCID: PMC3631801  PMID: 23620652
Nemaline myopathy; heart failure; respiratory failure
6.  Right atrial preference pacing algorithm in the prevention of paroxysmal atrial fibrillation in myotonic dystrophy type 1 patients: a long term follow-up study 
Acta Myologica  2012;31(2):139-143.
Atrial Preference Pacing (APP) is a pacemaker (PM) algorithm that works by increasing the atrial pacing rate to achieve continuous suppression of a spontaneous atrial rhythm and prevent supraventricular tachyarrhythmias. We have previously shown that atrial preference pacing may significantly reduce the number and the duration of AF episodes in myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1) patients who are paced for standard indications.
However, the role that APP therapies play in the prevention of AF in a long-term period remains still unclear. Aim of the present prospective study was to evaluate whether this beneficial effect is maintained for 24-months follow-up period.
To this aim, 50 patients with Myotonic Dystrophy type 1 who underwent dual-chamber PM implantation for first- and second- degree atrioventricular block, were consecutively enrolled and followed for 2 years. One month later the stabilization period, after the implantation, they were randomized to APP algorithm programmed OFF or ON for 6 months each, using a cross-over design, and remained in the same program for the second year. The results showed that while the number of AF episodes during active treatment (APP ON phases) was lower than that registered during no treatment (APP OFF phases), no statistically significant difference was found in AF episodes duration between the two phases. Furthermore, during the APP OFF and APP ON phases, the percentage of atrial pacing was 0 and 99%, respectively, while the percentage of ventricular pacing did not show differences statistically significant (11 vs. 9%, P = 0.2). Atrial premature beats were significantly higher during APP OFF phases than during APP ON phases. Lead parameters remained stable over time and there were no lead-related complications. Based on these 24-months follow-up data, we can conclude that, in DM1 patients who underwent dual-chamber PM implantation, APP is an efficacy algorithm for preventing paroxysmal AF even in long term periods.
PMCID: PMC3476853  PMID: 23097606
myotonic dystrophy; atrial preference pacing; atrial fibrillation
7.  Improvement of survival in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy: retrospective analysis of 835 patients 
Acta Myologica  2012;31(2):121-125.
Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) is the most common muscle disease in children. Historically, DMD results in loss of ambulation between ages 7 and 13 years and death in the teens or 20s. In order to determine whether survival has improved over the decades and whether the impact of nocturnal ventilation combined with a better management of cardiac involvement has been able to modify the pattern of survival, we reviewed the notes of 835 DMD patients followed at the Naples Centre of Cardiomyology and Medical Genetics from 1961 to 2006. Patients were divided, by decade of birth, into 3 groups: 1) DMD born between 1961 and 1970; 2) DMD born between 1971 and 1980; 3) DMD born between 1981 and 1990; each group was in turn subdivided into 15 two-year classes, from 14 to 40 years of age. Age and causes of death, type of cardiac treatment and use of a mechanical ventilator were carefully analyzed.
The percentage of survivors in the different decades was statistically compared by chi-square test and Kaplan-Meier survival curves analyses. A significant decade on decade improvement in survival rate was observed at both the age of 20, where it passed from 23.3% of patients in group 1 to 54% of patients in group 2 and to 59,8% in patients in group 3 (p < 0.001) and at the age of 25 where the survival rate passed from 13.5% of patients in group 1 to 31.6% of patients in group 2 and to 49.2% in patients in group 3 (p < 0.001).
The causes of death were both cardiac and respiratory, with a prevalence of the respiratory ones till 1980s. The overall mean age for cardiac deaths was 19.6 years (range 13.4-27.5), with an increasing age in the last 15 years. The overall mean age for respiratory deaths was 17.7 years (range 11.6-27.5) in patients without a ventilator support while increased to 27.9 years (range 23-38.6) in patients who could benefit of mechanical ventilation.
This report documents that DMD should be now considered an adulthood disease as well, and as a consequence more public health interventions are needed to support these patients and their families as they pass from childhood into adult age.
PMCID: PMC3476854  PMID: 23097603
Duchenne; survival; cardiomyopathy
8.  The heart and cardiac pacing in Steinert disease 
Acta Myologica  2012;31(2):110-116.
Myotonic dystrophy (Dystrophia Myotonica, DM) is the most frequently inherited neuromuscular disease of adult life. It is a multisystemic disease with major cardiac involvement. Core features of myotonic dystrophy are myotonia, muscle weakness, cataract, respiratory failure and cardiac conduction abnormalities. Classical DM, first described by Steinert and called Steinert's disease or DM1 (Dystrophia Myotonica type 1) has been identified as an autosomal dominant disorder associated with the presence of an abnormal expansion of a CTG trinucleotide repeat in the 3' untranslated region of DMPK gene on chromosome 19. This review will mainly focus on the various aspects of cardiac involvement in DM1 patients and the current role of cardiac pacing in their treatment.
PMCID: PMC3476856  PMID: 23097601
myotonic dystrophy type 1; arrhythmias; cardiac pacing
9.  Treatment of dystrophinopathic cardiomyopathy: review of the literature and personal results 
Acta Myologica  2012;31(1):24-30.
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.
PMCID: PMC3440799  PMID: 22655514
Dystrophinopathic cardiomyopathy; deflazacort; ACE-inhibitors

Results 1-9 (9)