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Neuromuscul Disord. 1998 Apr;8(2):72-6.

Early presentation of X-linked Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy resembling limb-girdle muscular dystrophy.

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Department of Paediatrics and Neonatal Medicine, Hammersmith Hospital, London, UK.


Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy is an X-linked neuromuscular disorder caused by defects in the STA gene on Xq28, which codes for a nuclear protein named emerin. Affected patients usually present in early adolescence with scapulo-peroneal muscle weakness and wasting, and contractures of the tendo Achilles, elbows and paraspinal muscles, resulting in spine rigidity. We present here a case of Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy with an unusually severe, early presentation. He presented at 2.5 years with predominantly proximal weakness and mild equinovarus deformity of the right foot. Serum creatine kinase activity was elevated (1994 IU/I) and a muscle biopsy at the age of 4 years showed marked dystrophic abnormalities. Normal expression of dystrophin, and no detectable deletion in the corresponding gene, excluded a diagnosis of Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Similarly, normal expression of alpha-sarcoglycan made a limb-girdle muscular dystrophy caused by a defect in a sarcoglycan unlikely. Several years later, examination of the proband's maternal cousin, aged 14 years, suggested Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy. This was confirmed in both affected boys by the absence of emerin in muscle and leucocytes, and identification of a mutation in exon 4 of the STA gene. Carrier status in both mothers was also confirmed by mutational and protein analysis. Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy should therefore be considered in the differential diagnosis of cases of early onset muscular dystrophy, even in the absence of the typical clinical features.

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