Background Carriers of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and Becker muscular dystrophy (BMD) may show muscle weakness or dilated cardiomyopathy. Studies focusing on skeletal-muscle involvement were done before DNA analysis was possible. We undertook a cross-sectional study in a population of definite carriers to estimate the proportion and to assess the clinical profile of carriers with symptoms. We also assessed a possible correlation between genotype and phenotype.
Methods Carriers of DMD and BMD, aged 18-60 years, were traced through the files of the central register kept at the Department of Human Genetics in Leiden, Netherlands. For each carrier who agreed to participate a medical history was taken, and muscle-strength assessment by hand-held dynamometry and manual muscle testing and cardiological assessment were done.
Findings 129 carriers of muscular dystrophy (85 DMD, 44 BMD) participated in the study. In 90 women from 52 (70%) families, 37 different mutations were found. 28 (22%) women had symptoms. 22 (17%) had muscle weakness, varying from mild to moderately severe, Muscle weakness was found in carriers of DMD and BMD, but dilated cardiomyopathy was found only in seven (8%) carriers of DMD, of whom one had concomitant muscle weakness. There was an unexpectedly high proportion of left-ventricle dilation (18%). No genotype-phenotype correlation was found.
Interpretation Clinical manifestation of muscle weakness, dilated cardiomyopathy, or both can be found in about a fifth of carriers of DMD and BMD. If left-ventricle dilation is taken into account, the proportion of carriers with symptoms is even higher, amounting to 40%.
- POLYMERASE CHAIN-REACTION
- MANIFESTING CARRIERS
- FEMALE CARRIERS