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2.  Clinical features of spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy 
Brain  2009;132(12):3242-3251.
Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy is an X-linked motor neuron disease caused by a CAG repeat expansion in the androgen receptor gene. To characterize the natural history and define outcome measures for clinical trials, we assessed the clinical history, laboratory findings and muscle strength and function in 57 patients with genetically confirmed disease. We also administered self-assessment questionnaires for activities of daily living, quality of life and erectile function. We found an average delay of over 5 years from onset of weakness to diagnosis. Muscle strength and function correlated directly with serum testosterone levels and inversely with CAG repeat length, age and duration of weakness. Motor unit number estimation was decreased by about half compared to healthy controls. Sensory nerve action potentials were reduced in nearly all subjects. Quantitative muscle assessment and timed 2 min walk may be useful as meaningful indicators of disease status. The direct correlation of testosterone levels with muscle strength indicates that androgens may have a positive effect on muscle function in spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy patients, in addition to the toxic effects described in animal models.
doi:10.1093/brain/awp258
PMCID: PMC2792370  PMID: 19846582
Kennedy disease; spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy; motor neuron disease; androgens
3.  Effect of Alemtuzumab (CAMPATH 1-H) in patients with inclusion-body myositis 
Brain  2009;132(6):1536-1544.
Sporadic inclusion-body myositis (sIBM) is the most common disabling, adult-onset, inflammatory myopathy histologically characterized by intense inflammation and vacuolar degeneration. In spite of T cell-mediated cytotoxicity and persistent, clonally expanded and antigen-driven endomysial T cells, the disease is resistant to immunotherapies. Alemtuzumab is a humanized monoclonal antibody that causes an immediate depletion or severe reduction of peripheral blood lymphocytes, lasting at least 6 months. We designed a proof-of-principle study to examine if one series of Alemtuzumab infusions in sIBM patients depletes not only peripheral blood lymphocytes but also endomysial T cells and alters the natural course of the disease. Thirteen sIBM patients with established 12-month natural history data received 0.3 mg/kg/day Alemtuzumab for 4 days. The study was powered to capture ≥10% increase strength 6 months after treatment. The primary end-point was disease stabilization compared to natural history, assessed by bi-monthly Quantitative Muscle Strength Testing and Medical Research Council strength measurements. Lymphocytes and T cell subsets were monitored concurrently in the blood and the repeated muscle biopsies. Alterations in the mRNA expression of inflammatory, stressor and degeneration-associated molecules were examined in the repeated biopsies. During a 12-month observation period, the patients’ total strength had declined by a mean of 14.9% based on Quantitative Muscle Strength Testing. Six months after therapy, the overall decline was only 1.9% (P < 0.002), corresponding to a 13% differential gain. Among those patients, four improved by a mean of 10% and six reported improved performance of daily activities. The benefit was more evident by the Medical Research Council scales, which demonstrated a decline in the total scores by 13.8% during the observation period but an improvement by 11.4% (P < 0.001) after 6 months, reaching the level of strength recorded 12 months earlier. Depletion of peripheral blood lymphocytes, including the naive and memory CD8+ cells, was noted 2 weeks after treatment and persisted up to 6 months. The effector CD45RA+CD62L­ cells, however, started to increase 2 months after therapy and peaked by the 4th month. Repeated muscle biopsies showed reduction of CD3 lymphocytes by a mean of 50% (P < 0.008), most prominent in the improved patients, and reduced mRNA expression of stressor molecules Fas, Mip-1a and αB-crystallin; the mRNA of desmin, a regeneration-associated molecule, increased. This proof-of-principle study provides insights into the pathogenesis of inclusion-body myositis and concludes that in sIBM one series of Alemtuzumab infusions can slow down disease progression up to 6 months, improve the strength of some patients, and reduce endomysial inflammation and stressor molecules. These encouraging results, the first in sIBM, warrant a future study with repeated infusions (Clinical Trials. Gov NCT00079768).
doi:10.1093/brain/awp104
PMCID: PMC2685923  PMID: 19454532
Alemtuxumab; IBM; muscle inflammation; muscle degeneration; lymphocyte depletion; endomysial inflammation; stressor molecules

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