Mutations in the dysferlin gene lead to limb-girdle muscular dystrophy 2B, Miyoshi Myopathy and distal anterior compartment myopathy. We here describe a cohort of 36 patients affected by dysferlinopathy in the first UK study of clinical, genetic, pathological, and biochemical data. The diagnosis was established by reduction of dysferlin in the muscle biopsy and subsequent mutational analysis of the dysferlin gene. 17 mutations were novel; the majority of mutations were small deletions/insertions, and no mutational hotspots were identified. 61% of patients (22 patients) initially presented with LGMD2B, 31% (11 patients) with a Miyoshi phenotype, one patient with proximodistal mode of onset, one patient with muscle stiffness after exercise, and one patient as a symptomatic carrier. A wider range of age of onset was noted than previously reported with 25% of patients having first symptoms before the age of 13 years. Independent of the initial mode of presentation, in our cohort of patients the gastrocnemius muscle was the most severely affected muscle leading to an inability to stand on tiptoes, and lower limbs were affected more severely than upper limbs.
As previous anecdotal evidence on patients affected by dysferlinopathy suggests good muscle prowess before onset of symptoms, we also investigated pre-symptomatic fitness levels of the patients. 53% of the patients were very active and sporty before onset of symptoms which makes the clinical course of dysferlinopathy unusual within the different forms of muscular dystrophy and provides a challenge to understanding the underlying pathomechanisms in this disease.
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