Background: Cognitive impairment has been reported in a significant proportion of patients with congenital muscular dystrophies (CMD), generally associated with brain changes. Objectives: The aim of this study was to establish 1) the overall prevalence of CMD and cognitive impairment in the Italian population; 2) the frequency of individual genetically defined forms; and 3) the presence of distinct phenotypes not associated with mutations in the known genes. Methods: We included all patients with CMD and cognitive impairment followed in all the Italian tertiary neuromuscular centers. Clinical, brain MRI, and morphologic data were collected. Genetic screening of the known genes was performed according to clinical and muscle biopsy findings. Results: Ninety-two of the 160 (58%) patients with CMD followed in our centers had cognitive impairment. α-Dystroglycan (α-DG) reduction on muscle biopsy was found in 73/92 (79%), with 42/73 carrying mutations in the known genes. Another 6/92 (7%) showed a laminin α2 deficiency on muscle biopsy and 5 of the 6 carried mutations in LAMA2. The remaining 13/92 (14%) patients had normal α-DG and laminin α2 expression on muscle. Conclusions: This is the first population study establishing the prevalence of CMD and cognitive impairment and providing a classification on the basis of clinical, MRI, and genetic findings. We also showed that cognitive impairment was not always associated with α-DG or laminin α2 reduction or with structural brain changes.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology