[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Our aim was to conduct a comparative study in a large cohort of myopathic patients carrying LMNA gene mutations to evaluate clinical and molecular features associated with different phenotypes.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The m.3243A>G "MELAS" (mitochondrial encephalopathy with lactic acidosis and stroke-like episodes) mutation is one of the most common point mutations of the mitochondrial DNA, but its phenotypic variability is incompletely understood. The aim of this study was to revise the phenotypic spectrum associated with the mitochondrial m.3243A>G mutation in 126 Italian carriers of the mutation, by a retrospective, database-based study ("Nation-wide Italian Collaborative Network of Mitochondrial Diseases"). Our results confirmed the high clinical heterogeneity of the m.3243A>G mutation. Hearing loss and diabetes were the most frequent clinical features, followed by stroke-like episodes. "MIDD" (maternally-inherited diabetes and deafness) and "PEO" (progressive external ophthalmoplegia) are nosographic terms without any real prognostic value, because these patients may be even more prone to the development of multisystem complications such as stroke-like episodes and heart involvement. The "MELAS" acronym is convincing and useful to denote patients with histological, biochemical and/or molecular evidence of mitochondrial disease who experience stroke-like episodes. Of note, we observed for the first time that male gender could represent a risk factor for the development of stroke-like episodes in Italian m.3243A>G carriers. Gender effect is not a new concept in mitochondrial medicine, but it has never been observed in MELAS. A better elucidation of the complex network linking mitochondrial dysfunction, apoptosis, estrogen effects and stroke-like episodes may hold therapeutic promises.
Journal of Neurology 12/2013; · 3.84 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy has been genetically linked to reduced numbers (≤8) of D4Z4 repeats at 4q35 combined with 4A(159/161/168) DUX4 polyadenylation signal haplotype. However, we have recently reported that 1.3% of healthy individuals carry this molecular signature and 19% of subjects affected by facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy do not carry alleles with eight or fewer D4Z4 repeats. Therefore, prognosis for subjects carrying or at risk of carrying D4Z4 reduced alleles has become more complicated. To test for additional prognostic factors, we measured the degree of motor impairment in a large group of patients affected by facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy and their relatives who are carrying D4Z4 reduced alleles. The clinical expression of motor impairment was assessed in 530 subjects, 163 probands and 367 relatives, from 176 unrelated families according to a standardized clinical score. The associations between clinical severity and size of D4Z4 allele, degree of kinship, gender, age and 4q haplotype were evaluated. Overall, 32.2% of relatives did not display any muscle functional impairment. This phenotype was influenced by the degree of relation with proband, because 47.1% of second- through fifth-degree relatives were unaffected, whereas only 27.5% of first-degree family members did not show motor impairment. The estimated risk of developing motor impairment by age 50 for relatives carrying a D4Z4 reduced allele with 1-3 repeats or 4-8 repeats was 88.7% and 55%, respectively. Male relatives had a mean score significantly higher than females (5.4 versus 4.0, P = 0.003). No 4q haplotype was exclusively associated with the presence of disease. In 13% of families in which D4Z4 alleles with 4-8 repeats segregate, the diagnosis of facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy was reported only in one generation. In conclusion, this large-scale analysis provides further information that should be taken into account when counselling families in which a reduced allele with 4-8 D4Z4 repeats segregates. In addition, the reduced expression of disease observed in distant relatives suggests that a family's genetic background plays a role in the occurrence of facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy. These results indicate that the identification of new susceptibility factors for this disease will require an accurate classification of families.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: OBJECTIVES: Myoclonic epilepsy with ragged-red fibers (MERRF) is a rare mitochondrial syndrome, mostly caused by the 8344A>G mitochondrial DNA mutation. Most of the previous studies have been based on single case/family reports or series with few patients. The primary aim of this study was the characterization of a large cohort of patients with the 8344A>G mutation. The secondary aim was revision of the previously published data. METHODS: Retrospective, database-based study (Nation-wide Italian Collaborative Network of Mitochondrial Diseases) and systematic revision. RESULTS: Forty-two patients carrying the mutation were identified. The great majority did not have full-blown MERRF syndrome. Myoclonus was present in 1 of 5 patients, whereas myopathic signs and symptoms, generalized seizures, hearing loss, eyelid ptosis, and multiple lipomatosis represented the most common clinical features. Some asymptomatic mutation carriers have also been observed. Myoclonus was more strictly associated with ataxia than generalized seizures in adult 8344A>G subjects. Considering all of the 321 patients so far available, including our dataset and previously published cases, at the mean age of approximately 35 years, the clinical picture was characterized by the following signs/symptoms, in descending order: myoclonus, muscle weakness, ataxia (35%-45% of patients); generalized seizures, hearing loss (25%-34.9%); cognitive impairment, multiple lipomatosis, neuropathy, exercise intolerance (15%-24.9%); and increased creatine kinase levels, ptosis/ophthalmoparesis, optic atrophy, cardiomyopathy, muscle wasting, respiratory impairment, diabetes, muscle pain, tremor, migraine (5%-14.9%). CONCLUSIONS: Our results showed higher clinical heterogeneity than commonly thought. Moreover, MERRF could be better defined as a myoclonic ataxia rather than a myoclonic epilepsy.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: BACKGROUND: Pompe's disease is an inherited metabolic myopathy caused by acid α-glucosidase deficiency. Early diagnosis optimizes the treatment effectiveness. METHODS: One-hundred-thirty-seven consecutive patients with unexplained hyperCKemia underwent the assessment of acid α-glucosidase activity on dried blood spot. Second tier confirmatory testing in positive patients included the assessment of α-glucosidase activity on lymphocytes or muscle tissue and molecular analysis. RESULTS: Three patients were diagnosed with later-onset Pompe's disease, revealing 2.2% prevalence in asymptomatic hyperCKemia. Moreover, three patients positive to the screening revealed abnormal biochemical second tier testing, but were heterozygous for the common c.-32-13T>G mutation at molecular level. CONCLUSIONS: The selective screening for later-onset Pompe's disease in asymptomatic hyperCKemia allowed the identification of affected patients in a pre-clinical stage. Additionally, the identification of carriers with biochemical alterations related to Pompe's disease extends the spectrum of its manifestations to heterozygous subjects.
Molecular Genetics and Metabolism 03/2013; · 2.83 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Proximal spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is an autosomal recessive neuromuscular disorder caused by mutations of the SMN1 gene. Based on severity, three forms of SMA are recognized (types I-III). All patients usually have 2-4 copies of a highly homologous gene (SMN2), which produces insufficient levels of functional survival motor neuron (SMN) protein due to the alternative splicing of exon 7. The availability of potential candidates to the treatment of SMA has raised a number of issues, including the availability of biomarkers. This study was aimed at evaluating whether the quantification of SMN2 products in peripheral blood is a suitable biomarker for SMA. Forty-five adult type III patients were evaluated by Manual Muscle Testing, North Star Ambulatory Assessment scale, 6-min walk test, myometry, forced vital capacity, and dual X-ray absorptiometry. Molecular assessments included SMN2 copy number, levels of full-length SMN2 (SMN2-fl) transcripts and those lacking exon 7 and SMN protein. Clinical outcome measures strongly correlated to each other. Lean body mass correlated inversely with years from diagnosis and with several aspects of motor performance. SMN2 copy number and SMN protein levels were not associated with motor performance or transcript levels. SMN2-fl levels correlated with motor performance in ambulant patients. Our results indicate that SMN2-fl levels correlate with motor performance only in patients preserving higher levels of motor function, whereas motor performance was strongly influenced by disease duration and lean body mass. If not taken into account, the confounding effect of disease duration may impair the identification of potential SMA biomarkers.European Journal of Human Genetics advance online publication, 17 October 2012; doi:10.1038/ejhg.2012.233.
European journal of human genetics: EJHG 10/2012; · 3.56 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: 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.
BMC Medical Genetics 08/2012; 13:73. · 2.45 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: 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.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) is a common hereditary myopathy causally linked to reduced numbers (≤8) of 3.3 kilobase D4Z4 tandem repeats at 4q35. However, because individuals carrying D4Z4-reduced alleles and no FSHD and patients with FSHD and no short allele have been observed, additional markers have been proposed to support an FSHD molecular diagnosis. In particular a reduction in the number of D4Z4 elements combined with the 4A(159/161/168)PAS haplotype (which provides the possibility of expressing DUX4) is currently used as the genetic signature uniquely associated with FSHD. Here, we analyzed these DNA elements in more than 800 Italian and Brazilian samples of normal individuals unrelated to any FSHD patients. We find that 3% of healthy subjects carry alleles with a reduced number (4-8) of D4Z4 repeats on chromosome 4q and that one-third of these alleles, 1.3%, occur in combination with the 4A161PAS haplotype. We also systematically characterized the 4q35 haplotype in 253 unrelated FSHD patients. We find that only 127 of them (50.1%) carry alleles with 1-8 D4Z4 repeats associated with 4A161PAS, whereas the remaining FSHD probands carry different haplotypes or alleles with a greater number of D4Z4 repeats. The present study shows that the current genetic signature of FSHD is a common polymorphism and that only half of FSHD probands carry this molecular signature. Our results suggest that the genetic basis of FSHD, which is remarkably heterogeneous, should be revisited, because this has important implications for genetic counseling and prenatal diagnosis of at-risk families.
The American Journal of Human Genetics 04/2012; 90(4):628-35. · 11.20 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) is considered an autosomal dominant disease with a prevalence of 1 in 20 000. Almost all patients with FSHD carry deletions of integral copies of tandem 3.3 kb repeats (D4Z4) located on chromosome 4q35. However, FSHD families have been reported in which individuals carrying a D4Z4-reduced allele remain asymptomatic. Recently, it has been proposed that the D4Z4-reduced allele is pathogenic only in association with the permissive haplotype, 4APAS. Methods and results Through the Italian National Registry for FSHD (INRF), genotype-phenotype correlations were extensively studied in 11 non-consanguineous families in which two D4Z4-reduced alleles segregate. Overall, 68 subjects carrying D4Z4-reduced alleles were examined, including 15 compound heterozygotes. It was found that in four families the only FSHD-affected subject was the compound heterozygote for the D4Z4-reduced allele, and 52.6% of subjects carrying a single D4Z4-reduced 4A161PAS haplotype were non-penetrant carriers; moreover, the population frequency of the 4A161PAS haplotype associated with a D4Z4-reduced allele was found to be as high as 1.2%. Conclusions This study reveals a high frequency of compound heterozygotes in the Italian population and the presence of D4Z4-reduced alleles with the 4A161PAS pathogenic haplotype in the majority of non-penetrant subjects in FSHD families with compound heterozygosity. These data suggest that carriers of FSHD-sized alleles with 4A161PAS haplotype are more common in the general population than expected on the basis of FSHD prevalence. These findings challenge the notion that FSHD is a fully penetrant autosomal dominant disorder uniquely associated with the 4A161PAS haplotype, with relevant repercussions for genetic counselling and prenatal diagnosis.
Journal of Medical Genetics 01/2012; 49(3):171-8. · 5.64 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Background and purpose: Fatigue and pain have been previously shown to be impor-tant determinants for decreasing quality of life (QoL) in one report in patients with non-dystrophic myotonia. The aims of our study were to assess QoL in skeletal muscle channelopathies (SMC) using INQoL (individualized QoL) and SF-36 questionnaires. Methods: We administered INQoL and SF-36 to 66 Italian patients with SMC (26: periodic paralysis, 36: myotonia congenita and 4: Andersen-Tawil) and compared the results in 422 patients with myotonic dystrophies (DM1: 382; and DM2: 40). Results: (i) INQoL index in SMC is similar to that in DMs (P = 0.79). (ii) Patients with myotonia congenita have the worst perception of QoL. (iii) Myotonia has the most detrimental effect on patients with myotonia congenita, followed by patients with DM2 and then by patients with DM1 and hyperkalemic periodic paralysis. (iv) Pain is a significant complaint in patients with myotonia congenita, hypokalemic periodic paralysis and DM2 but not in DM1. (v) Fatigue has a similar detrimental effect on all patient groups except for patients with hyperkalemic periodic paralysis in whom muscle weakness and myotonia more than fatigue affect QoL perception. (vi) Muscle symptoms considered in INQoL correlate with physical symptoms assessed by SF-36 (R from À0.34 to À0.76). Conclusions: QoL perception in patients with SMC is similar to that of patients with DMs, chronic multisystem disabling conditions. Our results provide informa-tion to target treatment and health care of these patients. The sensitivity of INQoL to changes in QoL in the SMC needs to be further explored in longitudinal studies.
European Journal of Neurology 01/2012; 19(11):1470-1476. · 3.85 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: To define numerically the clinical severity of facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD), we developed a protocol that quantifies muscle weakness by combining the functional evaluation of six muscle groups affected in this disease. To validate reproducibility of the protocol, 69 patients were recruited. Each patient was evaluated by at least five neurologists, and an FSHD severity score was given by each examiner. The degree of agreement among clinicians' evaluations was measured by kappa-statistics. Nineteen subjects received a score between 0 and 1, 9 had a score between 2 and 4, 20 received a score between 5 and 10, and 8 had a score between 11 and 15. Of the 13 subjects with D4Z4 alleles within the normal range (ranging from 10 to 150 repeats), 12 obtained a score of 0 and only 1 had a score of 1. Kappa-statistics showed a very high concordance for all muscle groups. We developed a simple, reliable, easily used tool to define the clinical expression of FSHD. Longitudinal studies will assess its sensitivity and utility in measuring changes for widespread use.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: A quality of life (QoL) questionnaire for neuromuscular diseases was recently constructed and validated in the United Kingdom in a sample of adult patients with a variety of muscle disorders. Preliminary results suggested it could be a more relevant and practical measure of QoL in muscle diseases than generic health measures of QoL. The purpose of our work was: (i) To validate INQoL in Italy on a larger sample of adult patients with muscle diseases (ii) to compare INQoL to SF-36.
We have translated into Italian and applied language adaptations to the original UK INQoL version. We studied 1092 patients with different muscle disorders and performed (i) test-retest reliability (n = 80); (ii) psychometric (n = 345), known-group (n = 1092), external criterion (n = 70), and concurrent validity with SF-36 (n = 183).
We have translated and formally validated the Italian version of INQoL confirming and extending results obtained in the United Kingdom. In addition to good results in terms of reliability, known-group and criterion validity, a comparison with the SF-36 scales showed a stronger association between INQoL total index and SF-36 physical (r = -0.72) than mental (r = -0.38) summary health indexes. When considering comparable domains of INQoL and SF-36 with respect to an objective measure of muscle strength assessment (MMRC), regression analysis showed a stronger correlation using INQoL rather than SF-36 scores.
INQoL is recommended to assess QoL in muscle diseases because of its ability to capture physical limitations that are specifically relevant to the muscle condition.
European Journal of Neurology 03/2010; 17(9):1178-87. · 3.85 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Patients affected by facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) with unusual large 4q35 deletions tend to present atypical features in early childhood. We explored the clinical presentation of patients with a very short 4q35 fragment (10-13 kb) focusing on hearing loss, a still debated FSHD extra-muscular manifestation.
We evaluated six cases with EcoRI 4q35 fragment size ranging from 10 to 13 kb. Assessment of hearing function was carried out by otoscopy, audiometry and auditory-evoked brainstem responses (ABR). Patient data were compared with those of 28 similar subjects reported in the literature.
Sensorineural hearing loss was found in four patients, who presented infantile-onset dystrophic phenotype. Hearing loss was associated with mental retardation in three of them and with epilepsy in two. Auditory ability of the other two cases was mildly impaired. If findings related to 28 similar cases reported to date are also considered, auditory impairment appears evident in 68% of these subjects.
Hearing loss represents a characteristic feature of FSHD patients with a large 4q35 deletion. Moreover, when considering only cases with 10-11 kb, it appears to be associated with early-onset dystrophic phenotype, with mental retardation (92%) and possibly with epilepsy (58%).
European Journal of Neurology 01/2009; 15(12):1353-8. · 3.85 Impact Factor