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Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is characterized by the progressive loss of motor neurons causing muscle atrophy and weakness. Nusinersen, the first effective SMA therapy was approved by Health Canada in June 2017 and has been added to the provincial formulary of all but one Canadian province. Access to this effective therapy has triggered the inclusion of SMA in an increasing number of Newborn Screening (NBS) programs. However, the range of disease-modifying SMN2 gene copy numbers encountered in survival motor neuron 1 (SMN1)-null individuals means that neither screen-positive definition nor resulting treatment decisions can be determined by SMN1 genotype alone. We outline an approach to this challenge, one that specifically addresses the case of SMA newborns with four copies of SMN2.
To develop a standardized post-referral evaluation pathway for babies with a positive SMA NBS screen result.
An SMA NBS pilot trial in Ontario using first-tier MassARRAY and second-tier multi-ligand probe amplification (MLPA) was launched in January 2020. Prior to this, Ontario pediatric neuromuscular disease and NBS experts met to review the evidence regarding the diagnosis and treatment of children with SMA as it pertained to NBS. A post-referral evaluation algorithm was developed, outlining timelines for patient retrieval and management.
Ontario’s pilot NBS program has created a standardized path to facilitate early diagnosis of SMA and initiation of treatment. The goal is to provide timely access to those SMA infants in need of therapy to optimize motor function and prolong survival.
An improved understanding of diagnostic and treatment practices for patients with rare primary mitochondrial disorders can support benchmarking against guidelines and establish priorities for evaluative research. We aimed to describe physician care for patients with mitochondrial diseases in Canada, including variation in care.
We conducted a cross-sectional survey of Canadian physicians involved in the diagnosis and/or ongoing care of patients with mitochondrial diseases. We used snowball sampling to identify potentially eligible participants, who were contacted by mail up to five times and invited to complete a questionnaire by mail or internet. The questionnaire addressed: personal experience in providing care for mitochondrial disorders; diagnostic and treatment practices; challenges in accessing tests or treatments; and views regarding research priorities.
We received 58 survey responses (52% response rate). Most respondents (83%) reported spending 20% or less of their clinical practice time caring for patients with mitochondrial disorders. We identified important variation in diagnostic care, although assessments frequently reported as diagnostically helpful (e.g., brain magnetic resonance imaging, MRI/MR spectroscopy) were also recommended in published guidelines. Approximately half (49%) of participants would recommend “mitochondrial cocktails” for all or most patients, but we identified variation in responses regarding specific vitamins and cofactors. A majority of physicians recommended studies on the development of effective therapies as the top research priority.
While Canadian physicians’ views about diagnostic care and disease management are aligned with published recommendations, important variations in care reflect persistent areas of uncertainty and a need for empirical evidence to support and update standard protocols.
Background: Neuromuscular disorders are a phenotypically and genotypically diverse group of diseases that can be difficult to diagnose accurately because of overlapping clinical features and nonspecific muscle pathology. Next-generation sequencing (NGS) is a high-throughput technology that can be used as a more time- and cost-effective tool for identifying molecular diagnoses for complex genetic conditions, such as neuromuscular disorders. Methods: One hundred and sixty-nine patients referred to a Canadian neuromuscular clinic for evaluation of possible muscle disease were screened with an NGS panel of muscular dystrophy–associated genes. Patients were categorized by the reason of referral (1) muscle weakness (n=135), (2) recurrent episodes of rhabdomyolysis (n=18), or (3) idiopathic hyperCKemia (n=16). Results: Pathogenic and likely pathogenic variants were identified in 36.09% of patients (61/169). The detection rate was 37.04% (50/135) in patients with muscle weakness, 33.33% (6/18) with rhabdomyolysis, and 31.25% (5/16) in those with idiopathic hyperCKemia. Conclusions: This study shows that NGS can be a useful tool in the molecular workup of patients seen in a neuromuscular clinic. Evaluating the utility of large panels of a muscle disease-specific NGS panel to investigate the genetic susceptibilities of rhabdomyolysis and/or idiopathic hyperCKemia is a relatively new field. Twenty-eight of the pathogenic and likely pathogenic variants reported here are novel and have not previously been associated with disease.
Pompe disease is a lysosomal storage disorder caused by a deficiency of the
enzyme acid alpha-glucosidase. Patients have skeletal muscle and respiratory
weakness with or without cardiomyopathy. The objective of our review was to
systematically evaluate the quality of evidence from the literature to
formulate evidence-based guidelines for the diagnosis and management of
patients with Pompe disease. The literature review was conducted using
published literature, clinical trials, cohort studies and systematic
reviews. Cardinal treatment decisions produced seven management guidelines
and were assigned a GRADE classification based on the quality of evidence in
the published literature. In addition, six recommendations were made based
on best clinical practices but with insufficient data to form a guideline.
Studying outcomes in rare diseases is challenging due to the small number of
patients, but this is in particular the reason why we believe that informed
treatment decisions need to consider the quality of the evidence.
Objectives: Differentiating genetic myopathies from inflammatory myopathies can be challenging because of multiple overlapping clinical features. Examples are presented to highlight important clinical features that assist in the differentiation between the two. Methods: Clinical features including age at onset, history, pattern of weakness, serum creatine kinase activity, electromyography findings, and muscle biopsies are reported in six patients initially thought to have an inflammatory myopathy in whom the final diagnosis was a genetic myopathy. Results: All six patients met Bohan and Peter criteria for at least probable idiopathic polymyositis and were subsequently found to have a genetic myopathy (4 DYSF, RYR1, and GNE). The key distinguishing clinical were minimal to no response to immunosuppression and atypical involvement of distal muscles in the majority of cases. Conclusions: Patients diagnosed with inflammatory myopathies should be reevaluated for the possibility of a genetic myopathy if they fail to respond to a course of disease-modifying agents and/or there is atypical distal muscle involvement.
The statins have emerged as the dominant class of drug for the treatment of hypercholesterolemia. These medications are generally well tolerated. However, myalgias, the most frequent side-effect, occur in up to 7% of patients. Transaminitis and skeletal myotoxicity, with elevated serum creatine kinase (CK) levels (i.e., >10 times the upper limit of normal), occur with reported frequencies of 1% and 0.1%, respectively. Various hypotheses have been proposed to explain the relationship between statin therapy and the spectrum of muscle dysfunction manifested by myalgia, myopathy, and rhabdomyolysis.
Statin-mediatd inhibition of mevalonate metabolism impairs the synthesis of isoprenylated products–the most notable of which is ubiquinone. However, isoprenylation is responsible for the post-translational modification of up to 2% of cellular proteins. Therefore, numerous metabolic pathways are potentially modified by statin-mediated hypoprenylation. Subclinical defects in one or more energy-deriving pathways may be unmasked upon exposure to the pleotropic effects of statins. Such pharmacogenomic synergism may underlie the development of “statin myopathy” in a subset of patients. In this regard, we describe four patients with mutations in the myophosphorylase (PYGM; MIM 232600), myoadenylate deaminase (AMPD1; MIM 102770), and carnitine palmitoyltransferase (CPT2; MIM 600650) genes whose diagnoses became apparent during the course of investigations for statin-induced myalgias and hyperCKemia.
We carried out a population-based study of dystrophin mutations in patients followed by members of the Canadian Paediatric Neuromuscular Group (CPNG) over a ten-year period.
We aimed to describe the changes in diagnostic testing for dystrophinopathy and to determine the frequency of dystrophin mutations from 2000 to 2009.
De-identified data containing the clinical phenotypes, diagnostic methods, and mutational reports from dystrophinopathy patients followed by CPNG centres from January 2000 to December 2009 were analyzed using descriptive statistics.
773 patients had a confirmed diagnosis of dystrophinopathy based on genetic testing (97%), muscle biopsy (2%), or family history (1%). 573 (74%) had complete deletion/duplication analysis of all 79 exons or whole gene sequencing, resulting in 366 (64%) deletions, 64 (11%) duplications, and 143 (25%) point mutations. The percentage of patients who were diagnosed using currently accepted genetic testing methods varied across Canada, with a mean of 63% (SD 23). 246 (43%) mutations involved exons 45 to 53. The top ten deletions (n=147, 26%) were exons 45-47, 45-48, 45, 45-50, 45-55, 51, 45-49, 45-52, 49-50, and 46-47. 169 (29%) mutations involved exons 2 to 20. The most common duplications (n=29, 5.1%) were exons 2, 2-7, 2-17, 3-7, 8-11, 10, 10-11, and 12.
This is the most comprehensive report of dystrophin mutations in Canada. Consensus guidelines regarding the diagnostic approach to dystrophinopathy will hopefully reduce the geographical variation in mutation detection rates in the coming decade.
The FRG1-transgenic mouse displays muscle dysfunction and atrophy reminiscent of fascioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) and could provide a model to determine potential therapeutic interventions.
To determine if FRG1 mice benefit from treatments that improve muscle mass and function, mice were treated with creatine alone (Cr) or in combination with treadmill exercise (CrEX).
The CrEx treatment increased quadriceps weight, mitochondrial content (cytochome c oxidase (COX) activity, COX subunit one and four protein), and induced greater improvements in grip strength and rotarod fall speed. While Cr increased COX subunits one and four protein, no effect on muscle mass or performance was found. Since Cr resulted in no functional improvements, the benefits of CrEx may be mediated by exercise; however, the potential synergistic action of the combined treatment cannot be excluded.
Treatment with CrEx attenuates atrophy and muscle dysfunction associated with FRG1 overexpression. These data suggest exercise and creatine supplementation may benefit individuals with FSHD.
Obesity and the related metabolic syndrome have become a worldwide epidemic. Inactivity appears to be a primary causative factor in the pathogenesis of this obesity and metabolic syndrome. There are two possible, perhaps not mutually exclusive, events that may lead to intramyocellular lipid accumulation and mitochondrial dysfunction in patients with obesity. First, obesity, with high intake-associated lipid accumulation in muscle may interfere with cellular mitochondrial function through generation of reactive oxygen species leading to lipid membrane peroxidative injury and disruption of mitochondrial membrane-dependent enzymes. This in turn leads to impaired oxidative metabolism. Secondly, a primary defect in mitochondrial oxidative metabolism may be responsible for a reduction in fatty acid oxidation leading to intramyocellular lipid accumulation as a secondary event. Non-invasive techniques such as proton (1H) and phosphorus (31P) magnetic resonance spectroscopy, coupled with specific magnetic resonance imaging techniques, may facilitate the investigation of the effects of various ergometric interventions on the pathophysiology of obesity and the metabolic syndrome. Exercise has positive effects on glucose metabolism, aerobic metabolism, mitochondrial density, and respiratory chain proteins in patients with metabolic syndrome, and we propose that this may be due to the exercise effects on AMP kinase, and a prospective physiological mechanism for this benefit is presented. A physiological model of the effect of intramyocellular lipid accumulation on oxidative metabolism and insulin mediated glucose uptake is proposed.
Statins have recently been reported to cause a rare autoimmune inflammatory and/or necrotic myopathy that begins or persists after drug cessation.
We report on 26 patients seen at a neuromuscular centre between 2005 and 2011 who demonstrated muscle weakness/myalgias and creatine kinase elevations during or after statin treatment with continuation of signs and symptoms despite statin withdrawal.
All patients were treated with immunosuppressive therapy with good response; all improved biochemically and 86% improved clinically. Sixty-five percent of patients who attempted to taper off immunosuppressive therapy relapsed. We report on a novel finding whereby five of the seven patients who underwent multiple biopsies throughout their disease demonstrated a transformation of their histological diagnosis, with four progressing from having myofibre necrosis with minimal or no inflammation to a diagnosis of polymyositis.
This study offers preliminary evidence that statin-associated necrotizing myopathy and statin-associated polymyositis may not be separate entities but are part of the same pathophysiological spectrum. Both entities respond well to immunosuppression.
We conducted a retrospective chart review of 53 patients diagnosed with sporadic Inclusion Body Myositis (sIBM) who have been followed at the McMaster Neuromuscular Clinic since 1996.
We reviewed patient medical histories in order to compare our findings with similar cohorts, and analyzed quantitative strength data to determine functionality in guiding decisions related to gait assistive devices.
Patient information was acquired through retrospective clinic chart review.
Our study found knee extension strength decreased significantly as patients transitioned to using more supportive gait assistive devices (P < 0.05). A decline to below 30 Nm was particularly indicative of the need for a preliminary device (i.e. cane)(P < 0.05). Falls and fear of falling poses a significant threat to patient physical well-being. The prevalence of dysphagia increased as patients required more supportive gait devices, and finally a significant negative correlation was found between time after onset and creatine kinase (CK) levels (P < 0.01).
This study supports that knee extension strength may be a useful tool in advising patients concerning ambulatory assistance. Further investigations concerning gait assistive device use and patient history of falling would be beneficial in preventing future falls and improving long-term patient outcomes.
We aimed to determine the effect of consuming pure isolated micellar casein or pure whey protein isolate on rates of myofibrillar protein synthesis (MPS) at rest and after resistance exercise in elderly men. Healthy elderly men (72 (sem 1) years; BMI 26·4 (sem 0·7) kg/m2) were divided into two groups (n 7 each) who received a primed, constant infusion of l-[ring-13C6]phenylalanine to measure MPS at rest and during 4 h of exercise recovery. Participants performed unilateral leg resistance exercise followed by the consumption of isonitrogenous quantities (20 g) of casein or whey. Blood essential amino acids and leucine concentration peaked 60 min post-drink and were greater in amplitude after whey protein ingestion (both, P < 0·05). MPS in the rested leg was 65 % higher (P = 0·002) after ingestion of whey (0·040 (sem 0·003) %/h) when compared with micellar casein (0·024 (sem 0·002) %/h). Similarly, resistance exercise-stimulated rates of MPS were greater (P < 0·001) after whey ingestion (0·059 (sem 0·005) %/h) v. micellar casein (0·035 (sem 0·002) %/h). We conclude that ingestion of isolated whey protein supports greater rates of MPS than micellar casein both at rest and after resistance exercise in healthy elderly men. This result is probably related to a greater hyperaminoacidaemia or leucinaemia with whey ingestion.
Borderline personality has been, for many years, a discredited diagnostic concept. In 1979 a review of the literature concluded that its validity status was very uncertain. The authors have reviewed research conducted since then and discuss it in terms of the Robins & Guze (1970) criteria. In spite of existing unclear issues, the balance is tipping in favour of the validity of borderline personality, as diagnosed with new research criteria. This development is taking place in the context of a growing interest in the area of personality disorders.
About a quarter of the psychiatrists at the Maudsley Hospital use the diagnosis of ‘borderline’ personality. The description of the borderline patient obtained in this study does not overlap with any existing ICD personality disorder but has characteristics of the schizoid, paranoid, hysteric, explosive, anankastic and antisocial personalitities. The item that discriminated best between borderlines and controls was ‘brief, unsystematized, psychotic episodes', which is not included in the DSM-III definitions of borderline diagnoses. Items of the DSM-III ‘schizotypal’ set—e.g. ‘suspiciousness' and ‘ideas of reference'—discriminated better between borderline cases and controls, whereas items of the DSM-III ‘borderline personality’ set—e.g. ‘impulsivity’ or ‘unpredictability'— scored more frequently in both groups. These are similar to American findings.
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