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  • Type 2 fiber predominance in Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome.

    15 February 2018

    Serial muscle biopsies in a noncarcinomatous case of Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS) have shown progressive atrophy and loss of type 1 fibers, resulting in overwhelming type 2 predominance. A similar abnormality was found in a single biopsy from a second case of LEMS without associated carcinoma. Review of the literature suggests that type 2 fiber predominance has been observed in at least one other biopsied case. Interference with transmitter release caused by anti-voltage-gated calcium channel antibodies may deprive type 1 muscle fibers of the low frequency discharge necessary to maintain their metabolic properties.

  • The use of rituximab in myasthenia gravis and Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome.

    28 January 2018

    AIM: To assess the treatment effects of rituximab in a population of patients with myasthenia gravis and Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome. METHODS: Data on all treated patients in the UK were collected from referring physicians, with full case ascertainment and follow-up. RESULTS: Since 2004, 10 patients with generalised myasthenia gravis (three of whom were positive for muscle-specific tyrosine kinase (MuSK) antibodies) and two patients with Lambert-Eaton myasthenic syndrome (LEMS) were treated with rituximab. Using the Myasthenia Gravis Foundation America postintervention status, three patients (25%) achieved remission, and a further five (42%) improved clinically over an 18-month period. Only one patient developed worsening symptoms. The probability of achieving remission was unrelated to the duration of neurological symptoms prior to treatment. All LEMS and MuSK antibody patients improved following rituximab treatment. CONCLUSION: In a relatively large, unselected group of patients with myasthenia gravis and LEMS, rituximab treatment resulted in a significant clinical improvement in two-thirds of cases. As a selective, B cell targeted therapy, rituximab should be considered as a treatment option for patients with either myasthenia gravis or LEMS for whom standard immunosuppressive treatments have been unsuccessful.

  • Dominant mutations in the cation channel gene transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 cause an unusual spectrum of neuropathies

    6 December 2017

    Hereditary neuropathies form a heterogeneous group of disorders for which over 40 causal genes have been identified to date. Recently, dominant mutations in the transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 gene were found to be associated with three distinct neuromuscular phenotypes: hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy 2C, scapuloperoneal spinal muscular atrophy and congenital distal spinal muscular atrophy. Transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 encodes a cation channel previously implicated in several types of dominantly inherited bone dysplasia syndromes. We performed DNA sequencing of the coding regions of transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 in a cohort of 145 patients with various types of hereditary neuropathy and identified five different heterozygous missense mutations in eight unrelated families. One mutation arose de novo in an isolated patient, and the remainder segregated in families. Two of the mutations were recurrent in unrelated families. Four mutations in transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 targeted conserved arginine residues in the ankyrin repeat domain, which is believed to be important in protein-protein interactions. Striking phenotypic variability between and within families was observed. The majority of patients displayed a predominantly, or pure, motor neuropathy with axonal characteristics observed on electrophysiological testing. The age of onset varied widely, ranging from congenital to late adulthood onset. Various combinations of additional features were present in most patients including vocal fold paralysis, scapular weakness, contractures and hearing loss. We identified six asymptomatic mutation carriers, indicating reduced penetrance of the transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 defects. This finding is relatively unusual in the context of hereditary neuropathies and has important implications for diagnostic testing and genetic counselling. © The Author (2010).

  • Dominant mutations in the cation channel gene transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 cause an unusual spectrum of neuropathies.

    16 February 2018

    Hereditary neuropathies form a heterogeneous group of disorders for which over 40 causal genes have been identified to date. Recently, dominant mutations in the transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 gene were found to be associated with three distinct neuromuscular phenotypes: hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy 2C, scapuloperoneal spinal muscular atrophy and congenital distal spinal muscular atrophy. Transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 encodes a cation channel previously implicated in several types of dominantly inherited bone dysplasia syndromes. We performed DNA sequencing of the coding regions of transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 in a cohort of 145 patients with various types of hereditary neuropathy and identified five different heterozygous missense mutations in eight unrelated families. One mutation arose de novo in an isolated patient, and the remainder segregated in families. Two of the mutations were recurrent in unrelated families. Four mutations in transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 targeted conserved arginine residues in the ankyrin repeat domain, which is believed to be important in protein-protein interactions. Striking phenotypic variability between and within families was observed. The majority of patients displayed a predominantly, or pure, motor neuropathy with axonal characteristics observed on electrophysiological testing. The age of onset varied widely, ranging from congenital to late adulthood onset. Various combinations of additional features were present in most patients including vocal fold paralysis, scapular weakness, contractures and hearing loss. We identified six asymptomatic mutation carriers, indicating reduced penetrance of the transient receptor potential vanilloid 4 defects. This finding is relatively unusual in the context of hereditary neuropathies and has important implications for diagnostic testing and genetic counselling.

  • Beevor's sign

    20 November 2017

  • Hot-spot residue in small heat-shock protein 22 causes distal motor neuropathy.

    2 February 2018

    Distal hereditary motor neuropathies are pure motor disorders of the peripheral nervous system resulting in severe atrophy and wasting of distal limb muscles. In two pedigrees with distal hereditary motor neuropathy type II linked to chromosome 12q24.3, we identified the same mutation (K141N) in small heat-shock 22-kDa protein 8 (encoded by HSPB8; also called HSP22). We found a second mutation (K141E) in two smaller families. Both mutations target the same amino acid, which is essential to the structural and functional integrity of the small heat-shock protein alphaA-crystallin. This positively charged residue, when mutated in other small heat-shock proteins, results in various human disorders. Coimmunoprecipitation experiments showed greater binding of both HSPB8 mutants to the interacting partner HSPB1. Expression of mutant HSPB8 in cultured cells promoted formation of intracellular aggregates. Our findings provide further evidence that mutations in heat-shock proteins have an important role in neurodegenerative disorders.

  • Mutant small heat-shock protein 27 causes axonal Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and distal hereditary motor neuropathy.

    16 February 2018

    Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) is the most common inherited neuromuscular disease and is characterized by considerable clinical and genetic heterogeneity. We previously reported a Russian family with autosomal dominant axonal CMT and assigned the locus underlying the disease (CMT2F; OMIM 606595) to chromosome 7q11-q21 (ref. 2). Here we report a missense mutation in the gene encoding 27-kDa small heat-shock protein B1 (HSPB1, also called HSP27) that segregates in the family with CMT2F. Screening for mutations in HSPB1 in 301 individuals with CMT and 115 individuals with distal hereditary motor neuropathies (distal HMNs) confirmed the previously observed mutation and identified four additional missense mutations. We observed the additional HSPB1 mutations in four families with distal HMN and in one individual with CMT neuropathy. Four mutations are located in the Hsp20-alpha-crystallin domain, and one mutation is in the C-terminal part of the HSP27 protein. Neuronal cells transfected with mutated HSPB1 were less viable than cells expressing the wild-type protein. Cotransfection of neurofilament light chain (NEFL) and mutant HSPB1 resulted in altered neurofilament assembly in cells devoid of cytoplasmic intermediate filaments.

  • Respiratory insufficiency in desminopathy patients caused by introduction of proline residues in desmin c-terminal alpha-helical segment.

    28 January 2018

    Mutations in desmin gene have been identified in patients with cardiac and skeletal myopathy characterized by intracytoplasmic accumulation of desmin-reactive deposits and electron-dense granular aggregates. We characterized two new desminopathy families with unusual features of adult-onset, slowly progressive, diffuse skeletal myopathy and respiratory insufficiency. Progressive reduction of respiratory muscle strength became clinically detectable between the 3rd and the 8th years of illness and led to recurrent chest infections and death in one of the patients. Novel mutations, A357P and L370P, predicted to introduce proline residue into a highly conserved alpha-helical region of desmin, were identified. Proline is known to disrupt the alpha-helix. In addition, the A357P mutation distorts a unique stutter sequence that is considered to be critically important for proper filament assembly. Functional assessment in two cell-lines, one of which does and the other of which does not constitutively produce type III intermediate filaments, demonstrated the inability of mutant desmin carrying either the A357P or the L370P mutation to polymerize and form an intracellular filamentous network. The results of this study indicate that respiratory insufficiency is an intrinsic feature of disease associated with specific desmin mutations; in some patients, respiratory weakness may present as a dominant clinical manifestation and a major cause of disability and death.