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Neuromuscul Disord. 2012 Mar;22(3):225-30. doi: 10.1016/j.nmd.2011.10.002. Epub 2011 Nov 22.

A rapid immunohistochemical test to distinguish congenital myotonic dystrophy from X-linked myotubular myopathy.

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Wolfson Centre for Inherited Neuromuscular Disease, RJAH Orthopaedic Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Oswestry, Shropshire SY10 7AG, UK.


Severe forms of myotubular myopathy (MTM) and congenital myotonic dystrophy type 1 (CDM), both present as floppy infants with hypotonia, respiratory failure and bulbar insufficiency. Muscle biopsy is often performed as part of the diagnostic process, but these two disorders share very similar histopathological features. It is well documented that CDM muscle has nuclear foci that contain muscleblind-like 1 (MBNL1) protein. In muscle biopsies from eight neonates showing central nuclei, MBNL1 immunolocalisation identified discrete, intensely stained foci in three cases that were subsequently confirmed as CDM by DNA analysis. In the five remaining non-CDM patients and two controls, MBNL1 staining was heterogeneous in nuclei, not as foci. MBNL1 staining patterns in CDM were easily distinguishable from MTM. We suggest that in cases of hypotonia with suspected CDM or MTM, when biopsy has been taken, sections should additionally be stained for MBNL1 to provide a rapid indication of a CDM diagnosis.

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