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Neurology. 1992 Aug;42(8):1616-24.

Vimentin and desmin in maturing skeletal muscle and developmental myopathies.

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Department of Pediatrics, University of Calgary Faculty of Medicine, Alberta, Canada.


I studied vimentin and desmin immunoreactivities in the skeletal muscle of 30 human fetuses and children ranging from 8 weeks' gestation to 2 years of age, and in 45 infants and children and five adults with developmental neuromuscular diseases. Acridine orange-RNA fluorescence also identified regenerating myofibers in Duchenne muscular dystrophy and dermatomyositis for comparison with congenital myopathies. Vimentin and desmin are both strongly expressed in fetal myotubes and their immunohistochemical demonstration persists until 36 weeks' gestation. These cytoskeletal proteins are uniformly expressed in myofibers of neonates with X-linked recessive myotubular myopathy. Desmin but not vimentin is diffusely increased in infantile cases of myotonic dystrophy, in some cases of congenital muscle fiber-type disproportion, and in cerebrohepatorenal disease. In nemaline rod myopathy, desmin is focally increased in perinuclear zones and in regions of aggregated rods. The small myofibers in infantile spinal muscular atrophy show increased vimentin and desmin in the subsarcolemmal region. The demonstration of these intermediate filament proteins provides markers to enhance diagnostic precision in the interpretation of the infant muscle biopsy. Furthermore, persistently high fetal concentrations of vimentin/desmin may play a role in the pathogenesis of some developmental myopathies.

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