JOURNAL ARTICLE
RESEARCH SUPPORT, NON-U.S. GOV'T
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RFC1 repeat expansions and cerebellar ataxia, neuropathy and vestibular areflexia syndrome: Experience and perspectives from a neuromuscular disorders unit.

INTRODUCTION: Pathogenic expansions in RFC1 have been described as a cause of a spectrum of disorders including late-onset ataxia, chronic cough, and cerebellar ataxia, neuropathy, vestibular areflexia syndrome (CANVAS). Sensory neuronopathy/neuropathy appears to be a major symptom of RFC1-disorder, and RFC1 expansions are common in patients with sensory chronic idiopathic axonal neuropathy or sensory ganglionopathy. We aimed to investigate RFC1 expansions in patients with suspected RFC1-related disease followed-up in a Neuromuscular Diseases Unit, with a particular interest in the involvement of the peripheral nervous system.

METHODS: We recruited twenty consecutive patients based on the presence of at least two of the following features: progressive ataxia, sensory neuropathy/neuronopathy, vestibulopathy and chronic cough. Medical records were retrospectively reviewed for a detailed clinical description. More extensive phenotyping of the RFC1-positive patients and clinical comparison between RFC1 positive and negative patients were performed.

RESULTS: Biallelic AAGGG repeat expansions were identified in 13 patients (65%). The most frequent symptoms were chronic cough and sensory disturbances in the lower extremities (12/13). Only 4 patients (31%) had complete CANVAS. The phenotypes were sensory ataxia and sensory symptoms in extremities in 4/13; sensory ataxia, sensory symptoms, and vestibulopathy in 3/13; sensory symptoms plus chronic cough in 2/13. Chronic cough and isolated sensory neuronopathy were significantly more prevalent in RFC1-positive patients.

CONCLUSION: Pathogenic RFC1 expansions are a common cause of sensory neuropathy/neuronopathy and should be considered in the approach to these patients. Identification of key symptoms or detailed interpretation of nerve conduction studies may improve patient selection for genetic testing.

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