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Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

Abstract

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NORD is very grateful to Gyula Acsadi, MD, PhD, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, University of Connecticut, School of Medicine, Chief of Neurology Division, Connecticut Children's Medical Center, for assistance in the preparation of this report.

Synonyms of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

  • DMD
  • dystrophinopathy
  • pseudohypertrophic myopathy

Disorder Subdivisions

  • No subdivisions found.

General Discussion

Summary
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a rare muscle disorder but it is one of the most frequent genetic conditions affecting approximately 1 in 3,500 male births worldwide. It is usually recognized between three and six years of age. DMD is characterized by weakness and wasting (atrophy) of the muscles of the pelvic area followed by the involvement of the shoulder muscles. As the disease progresses, muscle weakness and atrophy spread to affect the trunk and forearms and gradually progress to involve additional muscles of the body. The disease is progressive and most affected individuals require a wheelchair by the teenage years. Serious life-threatening complications may ultimately develop including disease of the heart muscle (cardiomyopathy) and breathing (respiratory) difficulties.

DMD is caused by changes (mutations) of the DMD gene on the X chromosome. The gene regulates the production of a protein called dystrophin that is found in association with the inner side of the membrane of skeletal and cardiac muscle cells. Dystrophin is thought to play an important role in maintaining the structure of these muscle cells.

Introduction
DMD is classified as a dystrophinopathy. The dystrophinopathies are a spectrum of muscle diseases, each caused by alterations in the dystrophin gene. The severe end of the spectrum is known as Duchenne muscular dystrophy and the less severe as Becker muscular dystrophy.

The dystrophinopathies belong to a large group of diseases known as the muscular dystrophies. These disorders are characterized by specific changes (e.g. variation of muscle fiber size, muscle fiber necrosis and inflammation) in muscle biopsy. The clinical hallmarks include the weakness and wasting of various voluntary muscles of the body. Approximately 30 different conditions make up the muscular dystrophies. The diseases affect different muscles and have different ages of onset, severity and inheritance patterns.

Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Resources

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