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Research Updates

2023 Research Updates

2023 Research

Characteristics of spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy in South Korea: a cross-sectional study of 157 patients

Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy, namely Kennedy disease, is a rare progressive neurodegenerative disorder caused by the expansion of a CAG repeat in the first exon of the androgen receptor gene on the X chromosome.

We assessed the clinical history, laboratory findings, functional scales and electrophysiological data, as well as the levels of luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone and testosterone, in 157 Korean patients with genetically confirmed spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (mean age at data collection = 56.9 years; range = 33–83 years).

Hand tremor was the first symptom noticed by patients at a median age of 35 years, followed by gynaecomastia, orofacial fasciculation, cramps and fatigability in ascending order. Clinical symptoms such as paraesthesia and dysphagia appeared during the later stages of the disease. Cane use during ambulation began at a median age of 62 years. There were statistically significant differences between patients and controls in the results of sensory nerve studies, motor conduction velocity, and distal latencies. Furthermore, among the hormone markers analysed, the level of luteinizing hormone exhibited a negative correlation with the spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy functional rating scale, Korean version. However, among the patients with a disease duration of ≤5 years, the levels of luteinizing hormone showed a significant correlation with assessments using the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis functional rating scale-revised, spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy functional rating scale, Korean version and the 6-minute walk test. In conclusion, our findings provide clinical information from a substantial number of patients with spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy in Korea that accorded with that of patients with this disease worldwide but with updated clinical features. For ways to view the complete journal article, click here.

The French national protocol for Kennedy’s Disease (SBMA): consensus diagnostic and management recommendations

The French national Kennedy’s disease protocol provides management recommendations for patients with KD. In a low-incidence condition, sharing and integrating regional expertise, multidisciplinary experience and defining consensus best-practice recommendations is particularly important. Well-coordinated collaborative efforts will ultimately pave the way to the development of evidence-based international guidelines. To read the PDF, click here

Bicalutimide and Trehalose Ameliorate Spinal and Bulbar Muscular Atrophy Pathology in Mice

Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA) is characterized by motor neuron (MN) degeneration that leads to slowly progressive muscle weakness. It is considered a neuromuscular disease since muscle has a primary role in disease onset and progression. SBMA is caused by a CAG triplet repeat expansion in the androgen receptor (AR) gene. The translated poly-glutamine (polyQ) tract confers a toxic gain of function to the mutant AR altering its folding, causing its aggregation into intracellular inclusions, and impairing the autophagic flux. In an in vitro SBMA neuronalmodel, we previously showed that the antiandrogen bicalutamide and trehalose, a natural disaccharide stimulating autophagy, block ARpolyQ activation, reduce its nuclear translocation and toxicity and facilitate the autophagic degradation of cytoplasmic AR aggregates. Here, in a knock-in SBMA mouse model (KI AR113Q), we show that bicalutamide and trehalose ameliorated SBMA pathology. Bicalutamide reversed the formation of the AR insoluble forms in KI AR113Q muscle,preventing autophagic flux blockage. We demonstrated that apoptosis is activated in KI AR113Q muscle, and that both compounds prevented its activation. We detected a decrease of mtDNA and an increaseof OXPHOS enzymes,already at early symptomatic stages;these alterations were revertedby trehalose. Overall,bicalutamide and/or trehaloseled to a partial recoveryof muscle morphology and func- tion, and improved SBMA mouse motor behavior, inducingan extension of their survival.Thus, bicalutamide and trehalose, by counteracting ARpolyQ toxicity in skeletal muscle, are valuable candidates for future clinical trials in SBMA patients.

Link: Bicalutamide and Trehalose Ameliorate Spinal and Bulbar Muscular Atrophy Pathology in Mice - PubMed (