Dirk Fischer

University Children's Hospital Basel, Bâle, Basel-City, Switzerland

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Publications (45)188.15 Total impact

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    ABSTRACT: Rippling muscle disease is caused by mutations in the gene encoding caveolin-3 (CAV3), the muscle-specific isoform of the scaffolding protein caveolin, a protein involved in the formation of caveolae. In healthy muscle, caveolin-3 is responsible for the formation of caveolae, which are highly organized sarcolemmal clusters influencing early muscle differentiation, signalling and Ca(2+) homeostasis. In the present study we examined Ca(2+) homeostasis and excitation-contraction (E-C) coupling in cultured myotubes derived from two patients with Rippling muscle disease with severe reduction in caveolin-3 expression; one patient harboured the heterozygous c.84C>A mutation while the other patient harbored a homozygous splice-site mutation (c.102+ 2T>C) affecting the splice donor site of intron 1 of the CAV3 gene. Our results show that cells from control and rippling muscle disease patients had similar resting [Ca(2+) ](i) and 4-chloro-m-cresol-induced Ca(2+) release but reduced KCl-induced Ca(2+) influx. Detailed analysis of the voltage-dependence of Ca(2+) transients revealed a significant shift of Ca(2+) release activation to higher depolarization levels in CAV3 mutated cells. High resolution immunofluorescence analysis by Total Internal Fluorescence microscopy supports the hypothesis that loss of caveolin-3 leads to microscopic disarrays in the colocalization of the voltage-sensing dihydropyridine receptor and the ryanodine receptor, thereby reducing the efficiency of excitation-contraction coupling.
    Human Mutation 03/2011; 32(3):309-17. · 5.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Prolonged depolarization of skeletal muscle cells induces entry of extracellular calcium into muscle cells, an event referred to as excitation-coupled calcium entry. Skeletal muscle excitation-coupled calcium entry relies on the interaction between the 1,4-dihydropyridine receptor on the sarcolemma and the ryanodine receptor on the sarcoplasmic reticulum membrane. In this study, we directly measured excitation-coupled calcium entry by total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy in human skeletal muscle myotubes harbouring mutations in the RYR1 gene linked to malignant hyperthermia (MH) and central core disease (CCD). We found that excitation-coupled calcium entry is strongly enhanced in cells from patients with CCD compared with individuals with MH and controls. Furthermore, excitation-coupled calcium entry induces generation of reactive nitrogen species and enhances nuclear localization of NFATc1, which in turn may be responsible for the increased IL-6 released by myotubes from patients with CCD.
    Human Molecular Genetics 11/2010; 20(3):589-600. · 7.69 Impact Factor
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    Mike P Wattjes, Rudolf A Kley, Dirk Fischer
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    ABSTRACT: Driven by increasing numbers of newly identified genetic defects and new insights into the field of inherited muscle diseases, neuromuscular imaging in general and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) in particular are increasingly being used to characterise the severity and pattern of muscle involvement. Although muscle biopsy is still the gold standard for the establishment of the definitive diagnosis, muscular imaging is an important diagnostic tool for the detection and quantification of dystrophic changes during the clinical workup of patients with hereditary muscle diseases. MRI is frequently used to describe muscle involvement patterns, which aids in narrowing of the differential diagnosis and distinguishing between dystrophic and non-dystrophic diseases. Recent work has demonstrated the usefulness of muscle imaging for the detection of specific congenital myopathies, mainly for the identification of the underlying genetic defect in core and centronuclear myopathies. Muscle imaging demonstrates characteristic patterns, which can be helpful for the differentiation of individual limb girdle muscular dystrophies. The aim of this review is to give a comprehensive overview of current methods and applications as well as future perspectives in the field of neuromuscular imaging in inherited muscle diseases. We also provide diagnostic algorithms that might guide us through the differential diagnosis in hereditary myopathies.
    European Radiology 10/2010; 20(10):2447-60. · 4.34 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: The definite molecular diagnosis in patients with muscular dystrophies often requires the assessment of muscular expression of multiple proteins in small amounts of muscle tissue. The sample material obtained in muscle biopsies is limited and the measurement of multiple proteins is often restricted to conventional, non-quantitative assays, i.e. immunohistochemistry and immunoblotting. Here, we demonstrate that reverse protein arrays are a novel and excellent material-saving method for the measurement and quantification of changes in protein expression between healthy and diseased muscle tissue as well as cultured primary myotubes. We evaluated a set of antibodies and found reproducible differences between Duchenne muscular dystrophy/limb-girdle muscular dystrophy patients and control samples for dystrophin, the sarcoglycans and the dystroglycans. As little as 10 mg of tissue is sufficient for the analysis of all diagnostically relevant proteins. The average coefficient of variation calculated for the sample signals confirmed that the method is highly reproducible. Thus, our experiments provide strong evidence that quantitative protein detection from very small amounts of muscle tissue is possible using reverse protein arrays. This technology may not only be of interest for diagnostic purposes, but also for protein quantification of multiple, follow-up biopsies during clinical trials when protein expression in muscle is considered an important outcome measure or biomarker.
    Neuromuscular Disorders 03/2010; 20(5):302-9. · 3.46 Impact Factor
  • Neuromuscular Disorders - NEUROMUSCULAR DISORD. 01/2009; 19(8):628-628.
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    ABSTRACT: Myofibrillar myopathies are caused by mutations in desmin, alphaB-crystallin, myotilin, ZASP, and filamin C genes. Since the vast majority of myofibrillar myopathy causing mutations are heterozygous single amino acid substitutions or small in-frame deletions, the pathogenic role of mutant versus wild-type protein cannot be assessed in human skeletal muscle by standard immunodetection techniques. We report on an exceptional desminopathy due to a heterozygous c.735G>C mutation. Immunoblotting detected full-length 53 kDa desmin and a truncated 50 kDa variant in skeletal muscle from three affected patients of two different families. RT-PCR identified three desmin mRNA species encoding for wild-type and two mutant proteins, p.Glu245Asp and p.Asp214_Glu245del. Since previous functional studies on the p.Glu245Asp mutant showed biological properties identical to wild-type desmin, the truncated p.Asp214_Glu245del desmin is the disease-causing mutant. Semiquantitative RT-PCR established a fraction of the truncated desmin mRNA species in a range from 24% to 37%. Initial quantification of corresponding desmin proteins in the muscle biopsy of the index patient of one family indicated a fraction of only 10% of the truncated species. However, serial analyses of different sections from each muscle biopsy revealed a high intra- and interindividual variability of the truncated desmin protein level within a range from 5% to 43%. Desmin assembly studies in vitro have established clear-cut pathogenic ratios of mutant versus wild-type proteins. However, our findings point out a far more complex situation in human skeletal muscle. The heterogeneously distributed mutation load within and between individual specimens, which reflects local differences in the expression and/or turnover of the mutant protein in different areas containing multiple myonuclear domains, renders it impossible to define an exact pathogenic threshold of a specific mutant in vivo.
    Human Mutation 12/2008; 30(3):E490-9. · 5.21 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To compare muscle imaging findings in different subtypes of myofibrillar myopathies (MFM) in order to identify characteristic patterns of muscle alterations that may be helpful to separate these genetic heterogeneous muscular disorders. Muscle imaging and clinical findings of 46 patients with MFM were evaluated (19 desminopathy, 12 myotilinopathy, 11 filaminopathy, 1 alphaB-crystallinopathy, and 3 ZASPopathy). The data were collected retrospectively in 43 patients and prospectively in 3 patients. In patients with desminopathy, the semitendinosus was at least equally affected as the biceps femoris, and the peroneal muscles were never less involved than the tibialis anterior (sensitivity of these imaging criteria to detect desminopathy in our cohort 100%, specificity 95%). In most of the patients with myotilinopathy, the adductor magnus showed more alterations than the gracilis muscle, and the sartorius was at least equally affected as the semitendinosus (sensitivity 90%, specificity 93%). In filaminopathy, the biceps femoris and semitendinosus were at least equally affected as the sartorius muscle, and the medial gastrocnemius was more affected than the lateral gastrocnemius. The semimembranosus mostly showed more alterations than the adductor magnus (sensitivity 88%, specificity 96%). Early adult onset and cardiac involvement was most often associated with desminopathy. In patients with filaminopathy, muscle weakness typically beginning in the 5th decade of life was mostly pronounced proximally, while late adult onset (>50 years) with distal weakness was more often present in myotilinopathy. Muscle imaging in combination with clinical data may be helpful for separation of distinct myofibrillar myopathy subtypes and in scheduling of genetic analysis.
    Neurology 10/2008; 71(10):758-65. · 8.30 Impact Factor
  • Aktuelle Neurologie 09/2008; 35. · 0.32 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: We report the clinical, genetic and cardiac magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) findings in 11 German patients with heterozygous E245D, D339Y, R350P and L377P desmin mutations and without cardiac symptoms. Clinical evaluation revealed a marked variability of skeletal muscle, respiratory and cardiac involvement even between patients with identical mutations, ranging from asymptomatic to severely affected. While echocardiography did not show any pathological findings in all 11 patients, cine MRI revealed focal left ventricular hypertrophy in 2 patients and MR delayed enhancement imaging displayed intramyocardial fibrosis in the left ventricle in 4 patients indicating early myocardial involvement. Our data argue against distinct genotype-phenotype correlations and suggest that comprehensive cardiac MRI is superior to conventional echocardiography for the detection of early and clinically asymptomatic stages of cardiomyopathy in desminopathy patients. Therefore, cardiac MRI may serve as a screening tool to identify patients at risk, which might benefit from early pharmacological and/or interventional (e.g. implantable cardioverter-defibrillator devices) therapy.
    Neuromuscular Disorders 07/2008; 18(6):475-82. · 3.46 Impact Factor
  • Clinical Neurophysiology 01/2008; 119(1). · 3.14 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Mutations in the filamin C gene (FLNC) cause a myofibrillar myopathy (MFM), morphologically characterized by focal myofibrillar destruction and abnormal accumulation of several proteins within skeletal muscle fibres. We studied 31 patients from four German families to evaluate the phenotype of filaminopathy. All patients harboured the same p.W2710X mutation in FLNC. Haplotype analysis suggested a founder mutation in these German filaminopathy families. The mean age at onset of clinical symptoms was 44 +/- 6 years (range, 24-57 years). Slowly progressive muscle weakness was mostly pronounced proximally, initially affecting the lower extremities and involving the upper extremities in the course of disease progression, similar to the distribution of weakness seen in limb-girdle muscular dystrophies (LGMD). Patients frequently developed respiratory muscle weakness. About one-third of the patients showed cardiac abnormalities comprising conduction blocks, tachycardia, diastolic dysfunction and left ventricular hypertrophy indicating a cardiac involvement in filaminopathy. Serum creatine kinase levels varied from normal up to 10-fold of the upper limit. Magnetic resonance imaging studies showed a rather homogenous pattern of muscle involvement in the lower extremities differing from that in other types of MFM. Myopathological features included perturbation of myofibrillar alignment, accumulation of granulofilamentous material similar to that seen in primary desminopathies and abnormal intracellular protein deposits typical of MFM. Decreased activities of oxidative enzymes and fibre hypertrophy seem to be early features, whereas dystrophic changes were present in advanced stages of filaminopathy. Rimmed vacuoles were detected in only a few cases. The intracellular aggregates were composed of a variety of proteins including filamin C, desmin, myotilin, Xin, dystrophin and sarcoglycans. Therapy is so far limited to symptomatic treatment. The German filaminopathy cohort, the largest group of patients studied so far, shares phenotypic features with LGMD and presents with characteristic histopathological findings of MFM.
    Brain 01/2008; 130(Pt 12):3250-64. · 10.23 Impact Factor
  • Neuromuscular Disorders - NEUROMUSCULAR DISORD. 01/2008; 18(9):725-725.
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    ABSTRACT: Centronuclear myopathy (CNM) is a slowly progressive congenital myopathy with characteristic histopathological findings of chains of centrally located myonuclei in a large number of muscle fibers. Recently, different missense mutations in the dynamin 2 gene (DNM2, 19p13.2) have been shown to cause autosomal dominant CNM. We re-evaluated patients with a histopathological diagnosis of CNM and report on the clinical phenotype, the biopsy findings and the genetic results of these patients and review the current literature. Two of the three patients showed an unusually late disease onset (> 40 years). Interestingly, intramuscular nerve fascicles found in the muscle biopsy of a patient harboring the E368K DNM2 mutation contained nerve fibers with disproportionately thin myelin sheaths. Schwann cells of unmyelinated nerve fibers showed abnormal plasma membrane and basal lamina protrusions, indicating peripheral nerve involvement.
    Clinical neuropathology 01/2008; 27(6):430-8. · 1.34 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: Desminopathy represents a subgroup of myofibrillar myopathies caused by mutations in the desmin gene. Three novel disease-associated mutations in the desmin gene were identified in unrelated Spanish families affected by cardioskeletal myopathy. A selective pattern of muscle involvement, which differed from that observed in myofibrillar myopathy resulting from mutations in the myotilin gene, was observed in each of the three families with novel mutations and each of three desminopathy patients with known desmin mutations. Prominent joint retractions at the ankles and characteristic nasal speech were observed early in the course of illness. These findings suggest that muscle imaging in combination with routine clinical and pathological examination may be helpful in distinguishing desminopathy from other forms of myofibrillar myopathy and ordering appropriate molecular investigations.
    Neuromuscular Disorders 07/2007; 17(6):443-50. · 3.46 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: In 1965, an adult-onset, autosomal dominant disorder with a peculiar scapuloperoneal distribution of weakness and atrophy was described in a large, multi-generation kindred and named 'scapuloperoneal syndrome type Kaeser' (OMIM #181400). By genetic analysis of the original kindred, we discovered a heterozygous missense mutation of the desmin gene (R350P) cosegregating with the disorder. Moreover, we detected DES R350P in four unrelated German families allowing for genotype-phenotype correlations in a total of 15 patients carrying the same mutation. Large clinical variability was recognized, even within the same family, ranging from scapuloperoneal (n = 2, 12%), limb girdle (n = 10, 60%) and distal phenotypes (n = 3, 18%) with variable cardiac (n = 7, 41%) or respiratory involvement (n = 7, 41%). Facial weakness, dysphagia and gynaecomastia were frequent additional symptoms. Overall and within each family, affected men seemingly bear a higher risk of sudden, cardiac death as compared to affected women. Moreover, histological and immunohistochemical examination of muscle biopsy specimens revealed a wide spectrum of findings ranging from near normal or unspecific pathology to typical, myofibrillar changes with accumulation of desmin. This study reveals that the clinical and pathological variability generally observed in desminopathies may not be attributed to the nature of the DES mutation alone, but may be influenced by additional genetic and epigenetic factors such as gender. In addition, mutations of the desmin gene should be considered early in the diagnostic work-up of any adult-onset, dominant myopathy, even if specific myofibrillar pathology is absent.
    Brain 07/2007; 130(Pt 6):1485-96. · 10.23 Impact Factor
  • Neuromuscular Disorders 01/2007; 17(9):879-879. · 3.46 Impact Factor
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    ABSTRACT: To characterize the muscle involvement of patients with central core disease (CCD) caused by mutations in the ryanodine receptor 1 gene (RYR1) and to compare these findings with those from patients with core myopathies unlinked to the RYR1 gene. We performed a systematic muscular imaging assessment in 11 patients with an RYR1 gene mutation and compared these findings with those of 5 patients from two unrelated families with autosomal dominant core myopathies not linked to RYR1, ACTA1, or MYH7 gene loci. All patients with RYR1 CCD had a characteristic pattern with predominant involvement of the gluteus maximus, adductor magnus, sartorius, vastus intermediolateralis, soleus, and lateral gastrocnemius muscles. In contrast, muscle CT in the first family not linked to RYR1 showed predominant affection of the gluteus minimus and hamstring muscles, whereas the second family presented with predominant involvement of the gluteus minimus, vastus intermediolateralis, tibialis anterior, and medial gastrocnemius muscles. In addition to muscle imaging data, we present detailed information on the clinical and pathologic findings of these novel phenotypes of core myopathies not linked to RYR1. Our data suggest genetic heterogeneity in autosomal dominant core myopathies and the existence of additional unidentified genes.
    Neurology 01/2007; 67(12):2217-20. · 8.30 Impact Factor
  • Neuromuscular Disorders - NEUROMUSCULAR DISORD. 01/2007; 17(9):878-879.
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    Dirk Fischer, Norma B Romero
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    ABSTRACT: We report two patients with polyglycosan body disease manifesting in adulthood. Clinical, electrophysiological, and histopathological characteristics of their disorders are summarized, and diagnostic classification is discussed.
    Der Nervenarzt 01/2007; 77(12):1487-91. · 0.80 Impact Factor

Publication Stats

702 Citations
188.15 Total Impact Points


  • 2011
    • University Children's Hospital Basel
      Bâle, Basel-City, Switzerland
  • 2010
    • VU University Medical Center
      • Department of Radiology
      Amsterdam, North Holland, Netherlands
  • 2008
    • University of Cologne
      • Institute of Biochemistry
      Köln, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
    • Universitätsspital Basel
      • Neurobiology Unit
      Basel, BS, Switzerland
  • 2007–2008
    • Kantonsspital St. Gallen
      San Gallo, Saint Gallen, Switzerland
  • 2003–2008
    • University of Bonn - Medical Center
      Bonn, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
  • 2002–2008
    • University of Bonn
      • • Department of Neurobiology
      • • Neurologische Klinik
      Bonn, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany
  • 2006–2007
    • French Institute of Health and Medical Research
      Lutetia Parisorum, Île-de-France, France
  • 2004–2007
    • Ludwig-Maximilian-University of Munich
      • Department of Neurology
      München, Bavaria, Germany
  • 2005
    • German Cancer Research Center
      Heidelburg, Baden-Württemberg, Germany