Muscle MRI findings in patients with limb girdle muscular dystrophy with calpain 3 deficiency (LGMD2A) and early contractures

Eugenio Mercuri, Kate Bushby, Enzo Ricci, Daniel Birchall, Marika Pane, Maria Kinali, Joanna Allsop, Vincenzo Nigro, Amets Sáenz, Annachiara Nascimbeni, Luigi Fulizio, Corrado Angelini, Francesco Muntoni
Neuromuscular Disorders: NMD 2005, 15 (2): 164-71
Limb girdle muscular dystrophy 2A is a common variant secondary to mutations in the calpain 3 gene. A proportion of patients has early and severe contractures, which can cause diagnostic difficulties with other conditions. We report clinical and muscle magnetic resonance imaging findings in seven limb girdle muscular dystrophy 2A patients (four sporadic and three familial) who had prominent and early contractures. All patients showed a striking involvement of the posterior thigh muscles. The involvement of the other thigh muscles was variable and was related to clinical severity. Young patients with minimal functional motor impairment showed a predominant involvement of the adductors and semimembranosus muscles while patients with restricted ambulation had a more diffuse involvement of the posterolateral muscles of the thigh and of the vastus intermedius with relative sparing of the vastus lateralis, sartorius and gracilis. At calf level all patients showed involvement of the soleus muscle and of the medial head of the gastrocnemius with relative sparing of the lateral head. MRI findings were correlated to those found in two patients with the phenotype of limb girdle muscular dystrophy 2A without early contractures and the pattern observed was quite similar. However, the pattern observed in limb girdle muscular dystrophy 2A is different from that reported in other muscle diseases such as Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy and Bethlem myopathy which have a significant clinical overlap with limb girdle muscular dystrophy 2A once early contractures are present. Our results suggest that muscle MRI may help in recognising patients with limb girdle muscular dystrophy 2A even when the clinical presentation overlaps with other conditions, and may therefore, be used as an additional investigation to target the appropriate biochemical and genetic tests.

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