Milder phenotype in facioscapulohumeral dystrophy with 7-10 residual D4Z4 repeats.

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Neurology (2015)


OBJECTIVE: To examine the relationship of clinical and genetic features of patients with facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) with 7-10 residual D4Z4 repeats in a large genetically defined FSHD1 cohort.

METHODS: We performed a prospective cross-sectional observational study of 74 clinically affected patients with FSHD1. Measures of clinical severity were compared between patients with 1-6 D4Z4 repeats and 7-10 repeats, and included D4Z4 CpG methylation, age at diagnosis, age-adjusted clinical severity score, a muscle pathology grade of quadriceps biopsies (0 = normal, 12 = severe dystrophic changes), quantitative myometry of biopsied muscles, global manual muscle testing scores, and frequency of wheelchair use.

RESULTS: Twenty-eight (37.8%) participants had 7-10 D4Z4 repeats, and compared to participants with 1-6 repeats, were diagnosed 6.6 years older (p = 0.17); had lower CpG methylation than would be predicted by D4Z4 repeat size (p = 0.04); had age-adjusted clinical severity 39.8 points lower (p = 0.004); had muscle pathology grades that were 2.4 points less severe (p < 0.0001); had quantitative myometry 28.3% predicted of normal higher (p = 0.002); had global manual muscle testing scores 0.6 higher (p = 0.005); and did not require wheelchairs.

CONCLUSION: Patients with FSHD with 7-10 D4Z4 repeats have milder disease than other genetically defined patients with FSHD1. The lower than predicted methylation in the 7-10 residual repeat group may suggest that additional epigenetic factors play a role in the severity of disease expression.