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  • Modafinil for excessive daytime sleepiness in myotonic dystrophy type 1--the patients' perspective.

    5 February 2018

    Excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), of very similar pattern to that seen in narcolepsy syndrome, is extremely common in myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1). In a significant minority it has a profound disabling effect on employment, social functioning and activities of daily living. Limited published studies have shown inconsistent results from use of the psychostimulant drug modafinil. A recent European Medicines Agency (EMA) review concluded that on current evidence regarding safety and efficacy, modafinil's use should be restricted to the treatment of narcolepsy. In other conditions (although DM1 was not specifically considered) it was concluded that there was insufficient evidence of benefit to outweigh potentially serious side-effects, including severe skin reactions and cardiac arrhythmia. Clinicians with extensive experience in the management of DM1 have found modafinil to be extremely effective in appropriately selected patients with a very low incidence of serious side-effects. Given the recent EMA review, patients have expressed concern about the potential restriction of the use of modafinil in DM1. This brief review is an audit of the experience of a large group of patients and their clinicians concerning EDS and DM1 and concludes that despite the limited literature there is strong evidence to support the use of modafinil in carefully selected patients.

  • Response

    20 November 2017

  • Supported community exercise in people with long-term neurological conditions: a phase II randomized controlled trial.

    2 February 2018

    OBJECTIVE: Adults with long-term neurological conditions have low levels of participation in physical activities and report many barriers to participation in exercise. This study examines the feasibility and safety of supporting community exercise for people with long-term neurological conditions using a physical activity support system. DESIGN: A phase II randomized controlled trial using computer-generated block randomization, allocation concealment and single blind outcome assessment. SETTING: Oxfordshire and Birmingham community Inclusive Fitness Initiative gyms. SUBJECTS: Patients with a long-term neurological condition. INTERVENTIONS: The intervention group (n = 51) received a 12-week, supported exercise programme. The control group (n = 48) participants received standard care for 12 weeks and were then offered the intervention. MAIN MEASURES: Physical activity, adherence to exercise, measures of mobility, health and well-being. RESULTS: Forty-eight patients (n = 51) completed the intervention, achieving 14 gym attendances (range 0-39) over the 12 weeks. Overall activity did not increase as measured by the Physical Activity Scale for the Elderly (change score mean 14.31; 95% confidence interval (CI) −8.27 to 36.89) and there were no statistically significant changes in body function and health and well-being measures. CONCLUSIONS: People with long-term neurological conditions can safely exercise in community gyms when supported and achieve similar attendance to standard exercise referral schemes, but may reduce other life activities in order to participate at a gym.

  • Guidelines for treatment of autoimmune neuromuscular transmission disorders.

    1 February 2018

    BACKGROUND: Important progress has been made in our understanding of the autoimmune neuromuscular transmission (NMT) disorders; myasthenia gravis (MG), Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS) and neuromyotonia (Isaacs' syndrome). METHODS: To prepare consensus guidelines for the treatment of the autoimmune NMT disorders, references retrieved from MEDLINE, EMBASE and the Cochrane Library were considered and statements prepared and agreed on by disease experts. CONCLUSIONS: Anticholinesterase drugs should be given first in the management of MG, but with some caution in patients with MuSK antibodies (good practice point). Plasma exchange is recommended in severe cases to induce remission and in preparation for surgery (recommendation level B). IvIg and plasma exchange are effective for the treatment of MG exacerbations (recommendation level A). For patients with non-thymomatous MG, thymectomy is recommended as an option to increase the probability of remission or improvement (recommendation level B). Once thymoma is diagnosed, thymectomy is indicated irrespective of MG severity (recommendation level A). Oral corticosteroids are first choice drugs when immunosuppressive drugs are necessary (good practice point). When long-term immunosuppression is necessary, azathioprine is recommended to allow tapering the steroids to the lowest possible dose whilst maintaining azathioprine (recommendation level A). 3,4-Diaminopyridine is recommended as symptomatic treatment and IvIG has a positive short-term effect in LEMS (good practice point). Neuromyotonia patients should be treated with an antiepileptic drug that reduces peripheral nerve hyperexcitability (good practice point). For paraneoplastic LEMS and neuromyotonia optimal treatment of the underlying tumour is essential (good practice point). Immunosuppressive treatment of LEMS and neuromyotonia should be similar to MG (good practice point).

  • Caveolinopathy--new mutations and additional symptoms.

    15 December 2017

    Mutations in the caveolin-3 gene (CAV3) can lead to a broad spectrum of clinical phenotypes. Phenotypes that have so far been associated with primary caveolin-3 deficiency include limb girdle muscular dystrophy, rippling muscle disease, distal myopathy and hyperCKaemia. This is the first report describing the clinical, pathological and genetic features of patients with caveolinopathy from the UK. Ten patients (six families) were identified via the National Commissioning Group (NCG) service for patients with limb girdle muscle dystrophy in Newcastle. Myalgia was the most prominent symptom in our cohort of patients and for 50% it was the reason for referral. Muscle weakness was only found in 60% of the patients, whereas rippling muscle movement was present in 80%. One of the patients reported episodes of myoglobinuria and another one episodes of hypoglycaemia. Five different mutations were identified, two of which were novel and three that had previously been described. Caveolinopathy needs to be considered as a differential diagnosis in a range of clinical situations, including in patients who do not have any weakness. Indeed, rippling muscles are a more frequent symptom than weakness, and can be detected in childhood. Presentation with myalgia is common and management of it as well as of myoglobinuria and hypoglycaemia may have a major impact on the patients' quality of life.

  • Approach to critical illness polyneuropathy and myopathy.

    12 December 2017

    A newly acquired neuromuscular cause of weakness has been found in 25-85% of critically ill patients. Three distinct entities have been identified: (1) critical illness polyneuropathy (CIP); (2) acute myopathy of intensive care (itself with three subtypes); and (3) a syndrome with features of both 1 and 2 (called critical illness myopathy and/or neuropathy or CRIMYNE). CIP is primarily a distal axonopathy involving both sensory and motor nerves. Electroneurography and electromyography (ENG-EMG) is the gold standard for diagnosis. CIM is a proximal as well as distal muscle weakness affecting both types of muscle fibres. It is associated with high use of non-depolarising muscle blockers and corticosteroids. Avoidance of systemic inflammatory response syndrome (SIRS) is the most effective way to reduce the likelihood of developing CIP or CIM. Outcome is variable and depends largely on the underlying illness. Detailed history, careful physical examination, review of medication chart and analysis of initial investigations provides invaluable clues towards the diagnosis.

  • Guidelines for the treatment of autoimmune neuromuscular transmission disorders.

    16 February 2018

    Important progress has been made in our understanding of the cellular and molecular processes underlying the autoimmune neuromuscular transmission (NMT) disorders; myasthenia gravis (MG), Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS) and neuromyotonia (peripheral nerve hyperexcitability; Isaacs syndrome). To prepare consensus guidelines for the treatment of the autoimmune NMT disorders. References retrieved from MEDLINE, EMBASE and the Cochrane Library were considered and statements prepared and agreed on by disease experts and a patient representative. The proposed practical treatment guidelines are agreed upon by the Task Force: (i) Anticholinesterase drugs should be the first drug to be given in the management of MG (good practice point). (ii) Plasma exchange is recommended as a short-term treatment in MG, especially in severe cases to induce remission and in preparation for surgery (level B recommendation). (iii) Intravenous immunoglobulin (IvIg) and plasma exchange are equally effective for the treatment of MG exacerbations (level A Recommendation). (iv) For patients with non-thymomatous autoimmune MG, thymectomy (TE) is recommended as an option to increase the probability of remission or improvement (level B recommendation). (v) Once thymoma is diagnosed TE is indicated irrespective of the severity of MG (level A recommendation). (vi) Oral corticosteroids is a first choice drug when immunosuppressive drugs are necessary in MG (good practice point). (vii) In patients where long-term immunosuppression is necessary, azathioprine is recommended together with steroids to allow tapering the steroids to the lowest possible dose whilst maintaining azathioprine (level A recommendation). (viii) 3,4-diaminopyridine is recommended as symptomatic treatment and IvIg has a positive short-term effect in LEMS (good practice point). (ix) All neuromyotonia patients should be treated symptomatically with an anti-epileptic drug that reduces peripheral nerve hyperexcitability (good practice point). (x) Definitive management of paraneoplastic neuromyotonia and LEMS is treatment of the underlying tumour (good practice point). (xi) For immunosuppressive treatment of LEMS and NMT it is reasonable to adopt treatment procedures by analogy with MG (good practice point).

  • Clinical and molecular aspects of the myotonic dystrophies: a review.

    28 January 2018

    Type 1 myotonic dystrophy or DM1 (Steinert's disease), which is the commonest muscular dystrophy in adults, has intrigued physicians for over a century. Unusual features, compared with other dystrophies, include myotonia, anticipation, and involvement of other organs, notably the brain, eyes, smooth muscle, cardiac conduction apparatus, and endocrine system. Morbidity is high, with a substantial mortality relating to cardiorespiratory dysfunction. More recently a second form of multisystem myotonic disorder has been recognized and variously designated as proximal myotonic myopathy (PROMM), proximal myotonic dystrophy (PDM), or DM2. For both DM1 and DM2 the molecular basis is expansion of an unstable repeat sequence in a noncoding part of a gene (DMPK in DM1 and ZNF9 in DM2). There is accumulating evidence that the basic molecular mechanism is disruption of mRNA metabolism, which has far-reaching effects on many other genes, in part through the induction of aberrant splicing, explaining the multisystemic nature of the disease. The unstable nature of the expansion provides a molecular explanation for anticipation. This review emphasizes the clinical similarities and differences between DM1 and DM2. It examines current views about the molecular basis of these disorders, and contrasts them with other repeat expansion disorders that have increasingly been recognized as a cause of neurological disease.

  • Reduced oxidative phosphorylation and proton efflux suggest reduced capillary blood supply in skeletal muscle of patients with dermatomyositis and polymyositis: a quantitative 31P-magnetic resonance spectroscopy and MRI study.

    16 February 2018

    Quantitative MRI and phosphorus magnetic resonance spectroscopy ((31)P-MRS) were used to investigate skeletal muscle metabolism in vivo in patients with dermatomyositis (DM) and polymyositis (PM) in order to evaluate the role of mitochondrial abnormalities in the pathogenesis and clinical expression of these conditions. Nine patients with DM (mean age +/- SD, 57 +/- 14 years) and five with PM (42 +/- 12 years) and with age at disease onset 53 +/- 16 and 38 +/- 12 years, respectively, were included in the study together with 18 age-matched controls. Post-exercise (31)P-MRS indices of muscle oxidative metabolism were all impaired in DM and PM. In both groups of patients, the phosphocreatine and adenosine diphosphate recovery half-times were almost twice as long as in controls (P < 0.05 for each variable) and the maximum rate of mitochondrial ATP production was half that found in normal subjects (P < 0.001). The rate of proton efflux from muscle fibres was significantly reduced in DM (P < 0.001) and PM (P = 0.02). The impairment of (31)P-MRS recovery indices in DM and PM patients was similar to that found in a group of 10 patients with a primary mitochondrial disorder that showed a normal proton efflux rate. There was no correlation between the MRS-detectable abnormalities and the degree of inflammation or fatty infiltration of the muscle, as measured by MRI. The in vivo findings in DM and PM patients indicate impaired muscle aerobic function, which, considering the reduced proton efflux, is likely to be secondary to an impaired blood supply. Our results suggest that the abnormal mitochondria seen in some muscle biopsies are unlikely to be the primary cause of the oxidative insufficiency in these patients.

  • Dystrobrevin deficiency at the sarcolemma of patients with muscular dystrophy.

    2 February 2018

    Mutations in the genes encoding dystrophin or dystrophin-associated proteins are responsible for Duchenne muscular dystrophy or various forms of limb-girdle muscular dystrophies respectively. We have recently cloned the gene for the murine 87 kDa postsynaptic protein dystrobrevin, a dystrophin-associated protein. Anti-dystrobrevin antibodies stain the sarcolemma in normal skeletal muscle indicating that dystrobrevin co-localises with dystrophin and the dystrophin-associated protein complex. By contrast, dystrobrevin membrane staining is severely reduced in muscles of Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients, consistent with dystrobrevin being a dystrophin-associated protein. Interestingly, dystrobrevin staining at the sarcolemma is dramatically reduced in patients with limb-girdle muscular dystrophy arising from the loss of one or all of the sarcoglycan components. Normal dystrobrevin staining is observed in patients with other forms of limb-girdle muscular dystrophy where dystrophin and the rest of the dystrophin-associated protein complex are normally expressed and in other neuromuscular disorders. Our results show that dystrobrevin-deficiency is a generic feature of dystrophies linked to dystrophin and the dystrophin-associated proteins. This is the first indication that a cytoplasmic component of the dystrophin-associated protein complex may be involved in the pathogenesis of limb-girdle muscular dystrophy.