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Neurological Dysfunction And Axonal Degeneration In Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease Type 1A

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Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 1A (CMT1A), the most frequent form of GAIT, is caused by a 1.5 Mb duplication on the short arm of chromosome 17. Patients with CMT1A typically have slowed nerve conduction velocities (NCVs), reduced compound motor and sensory nerve action potentials (CMAPs and SNAPs), distal weakness, sensory loss and decreased reflexes. In order to understand further the molecular pathogenesis of CMT1A, as well as to determine which features correlate with neurological dysfunction and might thus be amenable to treatment, we evaluated the clinical and electrophysiological phenotype in 42 patients with CMT1A. In these patients, muscle weakness, CMAP amplitudes and regeneration, motor unit number estimates correlated with clinical disability, while motor NCV did not. In addition, loss of joint position sense and reduction in SNAP amplitudes also correlated with clinical disability, while sensory NCV did not. Taken together, these data strongly support the hypothesis that neurological dysfunction and clinical disability in CMT1A are caused by loss or damage to large calibre motor and sensory axons. Therapeutic approaches to ameliorate disability in CMT1A, as in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and other neurodegenerative diseases, should thus be directed towards preventing axonal degeneration and/or promoting axonal regeneration.
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Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: Brain 123: 1516–1527, 2000. Reprinted with permission from Oxford University Press.

Publication date: March 1, 2001

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