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Genet Test. 2005 Spring;9(1):30-6.

Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy type 1A in northwestern Tuscany: a molecular genetics-based epidemiological and genotype-phenotype study.

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  • 1Department of Neuroscience, University of Pisa, 56126 Pisa, Italy.


Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy type 1A (FSHD1A) is an autosomal dominant inherited disorder characterized by early involvement of facial and scapular muscles with eventual spreading to pelvic and lower limb muscles. A high degree of clinical variability with respect to age at onset, severity, and pattern of muscle involvement, both between and within families, is present. For this reason, diagnosis of FSHD1A can be sometimes difficult and molecular diagnosis is then necessary. A clinical and molecular genetic-based epidemiological investigation has been carried out in the territory of northwestern Tuscany in central Italy to calculate the prevalence rate of FSHD1A as of March, 2004. The molecular diagnosis has been based on the detection of large deletions of variable size of kpnI repeat units on chromosome 4q35. Results have been compared to those of a previous study conducted in the same area in 1981 (in the premolecular diagnosis era). The minimum prevalence rate was 4.60 x 10(-5) inhabitants, a value four times higher compared to our previous study. No significant correlation between fragment size and clinical severity has been observed. This study confirms in an Italian population a prevalence rate of FSHD1A similar to that observed in other populations. Furthermore, it underlines the usefulness of routine adoption of the genetic testing in confirming clinical suspicion of FSHD1A as well as in correctly diagnosing atypical and otherwise misclassified cases.

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