BACKGROUND: The natural history of facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) is undefined.
METHODS: An observational cohort study was conducted in 246 FSHD1 patients. We split the analysis between index cases and carrier relatives and we classified all patients using the Comprehensive Clinical Evaluation Form (CCEF). The disease progression was measured as a variation of the FSHD score performed at baseline and at the end of 5-year follow-up (ΔFSHD score).
FINDINGS: Disease worsened in 79.4% (112/141) of index cases versus 38.1% (40/105) of carrier relatives and advanced more rapidly in index cases (ΔFSHD score 2.3 versus 1.2). The 79.1% (38/48) of asymptomatic carriers remained asymptomatic. The highest ΔFSHD score (1.7) was found in subject with facial and scapular weakness at baseline (category A), whereas in subjects with incomplete phenotype (facial or scapular weakness, category B) had lower ΔFSHD score (0.6) p < 0.0001.
CONCLUSIONS: The progression of disease is different between index cases and carrier relatives and the assessment of the CCEF categories has strong prognostic effect in FSHD1 patients.