Clinical Focus

  • Pediatric Neurology
  • Neuromuscular Diseases

Academic Appointments

Professional Education

  • Board Certification: Pediatric Neurology, American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology (2010)
  • Fellowship:Children's National Medical Center (2010) DC
  • Internship:Georgetown University Hospital (2007) DC
  • Residency:Hospital Nacional de Pediatria Juan P Garrahan (2001) Argentina
  • Residency:Alejandro Posadas Hospital (1997) Argentina
  • Medical Education:Universidad de Buenos Aires (1994)

Research & Scholarship

Clinical Trials

  • A Study of CK-2127107 in Patients With Spinal Muscular Atrophy Recruiting

    The primary objective of this study is to demonstrate a pharmacodynamic effect of CK-2127107 on measures of skeletal muscle function or fatigability in patients with Spinal Muscular Atrophy Types II-IV.

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All Publications

  • Nusinersen versus Sham Control in Later-Onset Spinal Muscular Atrophy NEW ENGLAND JOURNAL OF MEDICINE Mercuri, E., Darras, B. T., Chiriboga, C. A., Day, J. W., Campbell, C., Connolly, A. M., Iannaccone, S. T., Kirschner, J., Kuntz, N. L., Saito, K., Shieh, P. B., Tulinius, M., Mazzone, E. S., Montes, J., Bishop, K. M., Yang, Q., Foster, R., Gheuens, S., Bennett, C. F., Farwell, W., Schneider, E., De Vivo, D. C., Finkel, R. S., CHERISH Study Grp 2018; 378 (7): 625–35


    Nusinersen is an antisense oligonucleotide drug that modulates pre-messenger RNA splicing of the survival motor neuron 2 ( SMN2) gene. It has been developed for the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA).We conducted a multicenter, double-blind, sham-controlled, phase 3 trial of nusinersen in 126 children with SMA who had symptom onset after 6 months of age. The children were randomly assigned, in a 2:1 ratio, to undergo intrathecal administration of nusinersen at a dose of 12 mg (nusinersen group) or a sham procedure (control group) on days 1, 29, 85, and 274. The primary end point was the least-squares mean change from baseline in the Hammersmith Functional Motor Scale-Expanded (HFMSE) score at 15 months of treatment; HFMSE scores range from 0 to 66, with higher scores indicating better motor function. Secondary end points included the percentage of children with a clinically meaningful increase from baseline in the HFMSE score (≥3 points), an outcome that indicates improvement in at least two motor skills.In the prespecified interim analysis, there was a least-squares mean increase from baseline to month 15 in the HFMSE score in the nusinersen group (by 4.0 points) and a least-squares mean decrease in the control group (by -1.9 points), with a significant between-group difference favoring nusinersen (least-squares mean difference in change, 5.9 points; 95% confidence interval, 3.7 to 8.1; P<0.001). This result prompted early termination of the trial. Results of the final analysis were consistent with results of the interim analysis. In the final analysis, 57% of the children in the nusinersen group as compared with 26% in the control group had an increase from baseline to month 15 in the HFMSE score of at least 3 points (P<0.001), and the overall incidence of adverse events was similar in the nusinersen group and the control group (93% and 100%, respectively).Among children with later-onset SMA, those who received nusinersen had significant and clinically meaningful improvement in motor function as compared with those in the control group. (Funded by Biogen and Ionis Pharmaceuticals; CHERISH number, NCT02292537 .).

    View details for DOI 10.1056/NEJMoa1710504

    View details for Web of Science ID 000425000000008

    View details for PubMedID 29443664

  • Long-term effects of glucocorticoids on function, quality of life, and survival in patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy: a prospective cohort study LANCET McDonald, C. M., Henricson, E. K., Abresch, R. T., Duong, T., Joyce, N. C., Hu, F., Clemens, P. R., Hoffman, E. P., Cnaan, A., Gordish-Dressman, H., CINRG Investigators 2018; 391 (10119): 451–61


    Glucocorticoid treatment is recommended as a standard of care in Duchenne muscular dystrophy; however, few studies have assessed the long-term benefits of this treatment. We examined the long-term effects of glucocorticoids on milestone-related disease progression across the lifespan and survival in patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.For this prospective cohort study, we enrolled male patients aged 2-28 years with Duchenne muscular dystrophy at 20 centres in nine countries. Patients were followed up for 10 years. We compared no glucocorticoid treatment or cumulative treatment duration of less than 1 month versus treatment of 1 year or longer with regard to progression of nine disease-related and clinically meaningful mobility and upper limb milestones. We used Kaplan-Meier analyses to compare glucocorticoid treatment groups for time to stand from supine of 5 s or longer and 10 s or longer, and loss of stand from supine, four-stair climb, ambulation, full overhead reach, hand-to-mouth function, and hand function. Risk of death was also assessed. This study is registered with, number NCT00468832.440 patients were enrolled during two recruitment periods (2006-09 and 2012-16). Time to all disease progression milestone events was significantly longer in patients treated with glucocorticoids for 1 year or longer than in patients treated for less than 1 month or never treated (log-rank p<0·0001). Glucocorticoid treatment for 1 year or longer was associated with increased median age at loss of mobility milestones by 2·1-4·4 years and upper limb milestones by 2·8-8·0 years compared with treatment for less than 1 month. Deflazacort was associated with increased median age at loss of three milestones by 2·1-2·7 years in comparison with prednisone or prednisolone (log-rank p<0·012). 45 patients died during the 10-year follow-up. 39 (87%) of these deaths were attributable to Duchenne-related causes in patients with known duration of glucocorticoids usage. 28 (9%) deaths occurred in 311 patients treated with glucocorticoids for 1 year or longer compared with 11 (19%) deaths in 58 patients with no history of glucocorticoid use (odds ratio 0·47, 95% CI 0·22-1·00; p=0·0501).In patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, glucocorticoid treatment is associated with reduced risk of losing clinically meaningful mobility and upper limb disease progression milestones across the lifespan as well as reduced risk of death.US Department of Education/National Institute on Disability and Rehabilitation Research; US Department of Defense; National Institutes of Health/National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases; and Parent Project Muscular Dystrophy.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/S0140-6736(17)32160-8

    View details for Web of Science ID 000424333600034

    View details for PubMedID 29174484

  • Muscle MRI in patients with dysferlinopathy: pattern recognition and implications for clinical trials. Journal of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry Diaz-Manera, J., Fernandez-Torron, R., LLauger, J., James, M. K., Mayhew, A., Smith, F. E., Moore, U. R., Blamire, A. M., Carlier, P. G., Rufibach, L., Mittal, P., Eagle, M., Jacobs, M., Hodgson, T., Wallace, D., Ward, L., Smith, M., Stramare, R., Rampado, A., Sato, N., Tamaru, T., Harwick, B., Rico Gala, S., Turk, S., Coppenrath, E. M., Foster, G., Bendahan, D., Le Fur, Y., Fricke, S. T., Otero, H., Foster, S. L., Peduto, A., Sawyer, A. M., Hilsden, H., Lochmuller, H., Grieben, U., Spuler, S., Tesi Rocha, C., Day, J. W., Jones, K. J., Bharucha-Goebel, D. X., Salort-Campana, E., Harms, M., Pestronk, A., Krause, S., Schreiber-Katz, O., Walter, M. C., Paradas, C., Hogrel, J. Y., Stojkovic, T., Takeda, S., Mori-Yoshimura, M., Bravver, E., Sparks, S., Bello, L., Semplicini, C., Pegoraro, E., Mendell, J. R., Bushby, K., Straub, V. 2018


    Dysferlinopathies are a group of muscle disorders caused by mutations in the DYSF gene. Previous muscle imaging studies describe a selective pattern of muscle involvement in smaller patient cohorts, but a large imaging study across the entire spectrum of the dysferlinopathies had not been performed and previous imaging findings were not correlated with functional tests.We present cross-sectional T1-weighted muscle MRI data from 182 patients with genetically confirmed dysferlinopathies. We have analysed the pattern of muscles involved in the disease using hierarchical analysis and presented it as heatmaps. Results of the MRI scans have been correlated with relevant functional tests for each region of the body analysed.In 181 of the 182 patients scanned, we observed muscle pathology on T1-weighted images, with the gastrocnemius medialis and the soleus being the most commonly affected muscles. A similar pattern of involvement was identified in most patients regardless of their clinical presentation. Increased muscle pathology on MRI correlated positively with disease duration and functional impairment.The information generated by this study is of high diagnostic value and important for clinical trial development. We have been able to describe a pattern that can be considered as characteristic of dysferlinopathy. We have defined the natural history of the disease from a radiological point of view. These results enabled the identification of the most relevant regions of interest for quantitative MRI in longitudinal studies, such as clinical trials.NCT01676077.

    View details for DOI 10.1136/jnnp-2017-317488

    View details for PubMedID 29735511

  • Teenage exercise is associated with earlier symptom onset in dysferlinopathy: a retrospective cohort study. Journal of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry Moore, U. R., Jacobs, M., Fernandez-Torron, R., Jang, J., James, M. K., Mayhew, A., Rufibach, L., Mittal, P., Eagle, M., Cnaan, A., Carlier, P. G., Blamire, A., Hilsden, H., Lochmüller, H., Grieben, U., Spuler, S., Tesi Rocha, C., Day, J. W., Jones, K. J., Bharucha-Goebel, D. X., Salort-Campana, E., Harms, M., Pestronk, A., Krause, S., Schreiber-Katz, O., Walter, M. C., Paradas, C., Hogrel, J. Y., Stojkovic, T., Takeda, S., Mori-Yoshimura, M., Bravver, E., Sparks, S., Diaz-Manera, J., Bello, L., Semplicini, C., Pegoraro, E., Mendell, J. R., Bushby, K., Straub, V. 2018

    View details for DOI 10.1136/jnnp-2017-317329

    View details for PubMedID 29378789

  • Loss-of-Function Mutations in LGI4, a Secreted Ligand Involved in Schwann Cell Myelination, Are Responsible for Arthrogryposis Multiplex Congenita AMERICAN JOURNAL OF HUMAN GENETICS Xue, S., Maluenda, J., Marguet, F., Shboul, M., Quevarec, L., Bonnard, C., Ng, A. Y., Tohari, S., Thong Teck Tan, T. T., Kong, M. K., Monaghan, K. G., Cho, M. T., Siskind, C. E., Sampson, J. B., Rocha, C. T., Alkazaleh, F., Gonzales, M., Rigonnot, L., Whalen, S., Gut, M., Gut, I., Bucourt, M., Venkatesh, B., Laquerriere, A., Reversade, B., Melki, J. 2017; 100 (4): 659-665


    Arthrogryposis multiplex congenita (AMC) is a developmental condition characterized by multiple joint contractures resulting from reduced or absent fetal movements. Through genetic mapping of disease loci and whole-exome sequencing in four unrelated multiplex families presenting with severe AMC, we identified biallelic loss-of-function mutations in LGI4 (leucine-rich glioma-inactivated 4). LGI4 is a ligand secreted by Schwann cells that regulates peripheral nerve myelination via its cognate receptor ADAM22 expressed by neurons. Immunolabeling experiments and transmission electron microscopy of the sciatic nerve from one of the affected individuals revealed a lack of myelin. Functional tests using affected individual-derived iPSCs showed that these germline mutations caused aberrant splicing of the endogenous LGI4 transcript and in a cell-based assay impaired the secretion of truncated LGI4 protein. This is consistent with previous studies reporting arthrogryposis in Lgi4-deficient mice due to peripheral hypomyelination. This study adds to the recent reports implicating defective axoglial function as a key cause of AMC.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.ajhg.2017.02.006

    View details for Web of Science ID 000398389600008

    View details for PubMedID 28318499

  • Evidence for ACTN3 as a genetic modifier of Duchenne muscular dystrophy NATURE COMMUNICATIONS Hogarth, M. W., Houweling, P. J., Thomas, K. C., Gordish-Dressman, H., Bello, L., Pegoraro, E., Hoffman, E. P., Head, S. I., North, K. N. 2017; 8


    Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is characterized by muscle degeneration and progressive weakness. There is considerable inter-patient variability in disease onset and progression, which can confound the results of clinical trials. Here we show that a common null polymorphism (R577X) in ACTN3 results in significantly reduced muscle strength and a longer 10 m walk test time in young, ambulant patients with DMD; both of which are primary outcome measures in clinical trials. We have developed a double knockout mouse model, which also shows reduced muscle strength, but is protected from stretch-induced eccentric damage with age. This suggests that α-actinin-3 deficiency reduces muscle performance at baseline, but ameliorates the progression of dystrophic pathology. Mechanistically, we show that α-actinin-3 deficiency triggers an increase in oxidative muscle metabolism through activation of calcineurin, which likely confers the protective effect. Our studies suggest that ACTN3 R577X genotype is a modifier of clinical phenotype in DMD patients.

    View details for DOI 10.1038/ncomms14143

    View details for Web of Science ID 000393097000001

    View details for PubMedID 28139640

    View details for PubMedCentralID PMC5290331

  • Nusinersen versus Sham Control in Infantile-Onset Spinal Muscular Atrophy. The New England journal of medicine Finkel, R. S., Mercuri, E., Darras, B. T., Connolly, A. M., Kuntz, N. L., Kirschner, J., Chiriboga, C. A., Saito, K., Servais, L., Tizzano, E., Topaloglu, H., Tulinius, M., Montes, J., Glanzman, A. M., Bishop, K., Zhong, Z. J., Gheuens, S., Bennett, C. F., Schneider, E., Farwell, W., De Vivo, D. C. 2017; 377 (18): 1723–32


    Spinal muscular atrophy is an autosomal recessive neuromuscular disorder that is caused by an insufficient level of survival motor neuron (SMN) protein. Nusinersen is an antisense oligonucleotide drug that modifies pre-messenger RNA splicing of the SMN2 gene and thus promotes increased production of full-length SMN protein.We conducted a randomized, double-blind, sham-controlled, phase 3 efficacy and safety trial of nusinersen in infants with spinal muscular atrophy. The primary end points were a motor-milestone response (defined according to results on the Hammersmith Infant Neurological Examination) and event-free survival (time to death or the use of permanent assisted ventilation). Secondary end points included overall survival and subgroup analyses of event-free survival according to disease duration at screening. Only the first primary end point was tested in a prespecified interim analysis. To control the overall type I error rate at 0.05, a hierarchical testing strategy was used for the second primary end point and the secondary end points in the final analysis.In the interim analysis, a significantly higher percentage of infants in the nusinersen group than in the control group had a motor-milestone response (21 of 51 infants [41%] vs. 0 of 27 [0%], P<0.001), and this result prompted early termination of the trial. In the final analysis, a significantly higher percentage of infants in the nusinersen group than in the control group had a motor-milestone response (37 of 73 infants [51%] vs. 0 of 37 [0%]), and the likelihood of event-free survival was higher in the nusinersen group than in the control group (hazard ratio for death or the use of permanent assisted ventilation, 0.53; P=0.005). The likelihood of overall survival was higher in the nusinersen group than in the control group (hazard ratio for death, 0.37; P=0.004), and infants with a shorter disease duration at screening were more likely than those with a longer disease duration to benefit from nusinersen. The incidence and severity of adverse events were similar in the two groups.Among infants with spinal muscular atrophy, those who received nusinersen were more likely to be alive and have improvements in motor function than those in the control group. Early treatment may be necessary to maximize the benefit of the drug. (Funded by Biogen and Ionis Pharmaceuticals; ENDEAR number, NCT02193074 .).

    View details for DOI 10.1056/NEJMoa1702752

    View details for PubMedID 29091570

  • Targeted Re-Sequencing Emulsion PCR Panel for Myopathies: Results in 94 Cases. Journal of neuromuscular diseases Punetha, J., Kesari, A., Uapinyoying, P., Giri, M., Clarke, N. F., Waddell, L. B., North, K. N., Ghaoui, R., O'Grady, G. L., Oates, E. C., Sandaradura, S. A., Bönnemann, C. G., Donkervoort, S., Plotz, P. H., Smith, E. C., Tesi-Rocha, C., Bertorini, T. E., Tarnopolsky, M. A., Reitter, B., Hausmanowa-Petrusewicz, I., Hoffman, E. P. 2016; 3 (2): 209-225


    Molecular diagnostics in the genetic myopathies often requires testing of the largest and most complex transcript units in the human genome (DMD, TTN, NEB). Iteratively targeting single genes for sequencing has traditionally entailed high costs and long turnaround times. Exome sequencing has begun to supplant single targeted genes, but there are concerns regarding coverage and needed depth of the very large and complex genes that frequently cause myopathies.To evaluate efficiency of next-generation sequencing technologies to provide molecular diagnostics for patients with previously undiagnosed myopathies.We tested a targeted re-sequencing approach, using a 45 gene emulsion PCR myopathy panel, with subsequent sequencing on the Illumina platform in 94 undiagnosed patients. We compared the targeted re-sequencing approach to exome sequencing for 10 of these patients studied.We detected likely pathogenic mutations in 33 out of 94 patients with a molecular diagnostic rate of approximately 35%. The remaining patients showed variants of unknown significance (35/94 patients) or no mutations detected in the 45 genes tested (26/94 patients). Mutation detection rates for targeted re-sequencing vs. whole exome were similar in both methods; however exome sequencing showed better distribution of reads and fewer exon dropouts.Given that costs of highly parallel re-sequencing and whole exome sequencing are similar, and that exome sequencing now takes considerably less laboratory processing time than targeted re-sequencing, we recommend exome sequencing as the standard approach for molecular diagnostics of myopathies.

    View details for PubMedID 27854218

  • 50 Years Ago in THE JOURNAL OF PEDIATRICS Myotonic Dystrophy: A Neglected Form of Mental Retardation JOURNAL OF PEDIATRICS Rocha, C. T. 2016; 170: 112-112

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.jpeds.2015.10.023

    View details for Web of Science ID 000370820500025

    View details for PubMedID 26922763

  • Exome Sequencing Identifies DYNC1H1 Variant Associated With Vertebral Abnormality and Spinal Muscular Atrophy With Lower Extremity Predominance. Pediatric neurology Punetha, J., Monges, S., Franchi, M. E., Hoffman, E. P., Cirak, S., Tesi-Rocha, C. 2015; 52 (2): 239-244


    Molecular diagnosis of the distal spinal muscular atrophies or distal hereditary motor neuropathies remains challenging because of clinical and genetic heterogeneity. Next generation sequencing offers potential for identifying de novo mutations of causative genes in isolated cases.We present a 3.6-year-old girl with congenital scoliosis, equinovarus, and L5/S1 left hemivertebra who demonstrated delayed walking and lower extremities atrophy. She was negative for SMN1 deletion testing, and parents show no sign of disease.Whole exome sequencing of the affected girl showed a novel de novo heterozygous missense mutation c.1792C>T (p.Arg598Cys) in the tail domain of the DYNC1H1 gene encoding for cytoplasmic dynein heavy chain 1. The mutation changed a highly conserved amino acid and was absent from both parents.De novo mutations of DYNC1H1 have been found in individuals with autosomal dominant mental retardation with neuronal migration defects. Dominantly inherited mutations of DYNC1H1 have been reported to cause spinal muscular atrophy with predominance of lower extremity involvement and Charcot-Marie-Tooth type 2O. This is the first report of a de novoDYNC1H1 mutation associated with the spinal muscular atrophy with predominance of lower extremity phenotype with a spinal deformity (lumbar hemivertebrae). This case also demonstrates the power of next generation sequencing to discover de novo mutations on a genome-wide scale.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2014.09.003

    View details for PubMedID 25484024



    Cardiomyopathy is a common cause of morbidity and death in patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).This investigation was a cross-sectional cross-sectional analysis of clinical data from the multi-institutional Cooperative International Neuromuscular Research Group (CINRG) DMD Natural History Study of 340 DMD patients aged 2-28 years. Cardiomyopathy was defined as shortening fraction (SF) <28% or ejection fraction (EF) <55%.Two hundred thirty-one participants reported a prior clinical echocardiogram study, and 174 had data for SF or EF. The prevalence of cardiomyopathy was 27% (47 of 174), and it was associated significantly with age and clinical stage. The association of cardiomyopathy with age and clinical stage was not changed by glucocorticoid use as a covariate (P > 0.68). In patients with cardiomyopathy, 57% (27 of 47) reported not taking any cardiac medications. Cardiac medications were used in 12% (15 of 127) of patients without cardiomyopathy.We found that echocardiograms were underutilized, and cardiomyopathy was undertreated in this DMD natural history cohort.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/mus.24163

    View details for Web of Science ID 000340237500014

    View details for PubMedID 24395289

  • Novel large deletion in the ACTA1 gene in a child with autosomal recessive nemaline myopathy NEUROMUSCULAR DISORDERS Friedman, B., Simpson, K., Tesi-Rocha, C., Zhou, D., Palmer, C. A., Suchy, S. F. 2014; 24 (4): 331-334


    Nemaline myopathy (NM) is a genetically and clinically heterogeneous disorder resulting from a disruption of the thin filament proteins of the striated muscle sarcomere. The disorder is typically characterized by muscle weakness including the face, neck, respiratory, and limb muscles and is clinically classified based on the age of onset and severity. Mutations in the ACTA1 gene contribute to a significant proportion of NM cases. The majority of ACTA1 gene mutations are missense mutations causing autosomal dominant NM by producing an abnormal protein. However, approximately 10% of ACTA1 gene mutations are associated with autosomal recessive NM; these mutations are associated with loss of protein function. We report the first case of a large deletion in the ACTA1 gene contributing to autosomal recessive NM. This case illustrates the importance of understanding disease mechanisms at the molecular level to accurately infer the inheritance pattern and potentially aid with clinical management.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.nmd.2013.12.006

    View details for Web of Science ID 000334135200005

    View details for PubMedID 24447884

  • 'Double trouble': diagnostic challenges in Duchenne muscular dystrophy in patients with an additional hereditary skeletal dysplasia. Neuromuscular disorders Donkervoort, S., Schindler, A., Tesi-Rocha, C., Schreiber, A., Leach, M. E., Dastgir, J., Hu, Y., Mankodi, A., Wagner, K. R., Friedman, N. R., Bönnemann, C. G. 2013; 23 (12): 955-961


    Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is caused by mutations in Dystrophin and affects 1 in 3600-6000 males. It is characterized by progressive weakness leading to loss of ambulation, respiratory insufficiency, cardiomyopathy, and scoliosis. We describe the unusual phenotype of 3 patients with skeletal dysplasias in whom an additional diagnosis of DMD was later established. Two unrelated boys presented with osteogenesis imperfecta due to point mutations in COL1A1 and were both subsequently found to have a 1 bp frameshift deletion in the Dystrophin gene at age 3 and age 15 years, respectively. The third patient had a diagnosis of pseudoachondroplasia caused by a mutation in the COMP gene and was found to have a deletion of exons 48-50 in Dystrophin at age 9. We discuss the atypical presentation caused by the concomitant presence of 2 conditions affecting the musculoskeletal system, emphasizing aspects that may confound the presentation of a well-characterized disease like DMD. Additional series of patients with DMD and a secondary inherited condition are necessary to establish the natural history in this "double trouble" population. The recognition and accurate diagnosis of patients with two independent genetic disease processes is essential for management, prognosis, genetic risk assessment, and discussion regarding potential therapeutic interventions.

    View details for DOI 10.1016/j.nmd.2013.08.003

    View details for PubMedID 24070816

  • The cooperative international neuromuscular research group Duchenne natural history study: Glucocorticoid treatment preserves clinically meaningful functional milestones and reduces rate of disease progression as measured by manual muscle testing and other commonly used clinical trial outcome measures MUSCLE & NERVE Henricson, E. K., Abresch, R. T., Cnaan, A., Hu, F., Duong, T., Arrieta, A., Han, J., Escolar, D. M., Florence, J. M., Clemens, P. R., Hoffman, E. P., McDonald, C. M. 2013; 48 (1): 55-67


    introduction: Glucocorticoid (GC) therapy in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) has altered disease progression, necessitating contemporary natural history studies.The Cooperative Neuromuscular Research Group (CINRG) DMD Natural History Study (DMD-NHS) enrolled 340 DMD males, ages 2-28 years. A comprehensive battery of measures was obtained.A novel composite functional "milestone" scale scale showed clinically meaningful mobility and upper limb abilities were significantly preserved in GC-treated adolescents/young adults. Manual muscle test (MMT)-based calculations of global strength showed that those patients <10 years of age treated with steroids declined by 0.4 ± 0.39 MMT unit/year, compared with -0.4 ± 0.39 MMT unit/year in historical steroid-naive subjects. Pulmonary function tests (PFTs) were relatively preserved in steroid-treated adolescents. The linearity and magnitude of decline in measures were affected by maturational changes and functional status.In DMD, long-term use of GCs showed reduced strength loss and preserved functional capabilities and PFTs compared with previous natural history studies performed prior to the widespread use of GC therapy.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/mus.23808

    View details for Web of Science ID 000320787700006

    View details for PubMedID 23649481

  • Pentoxifylline as a rescue treatment for DMD A randomized double-blind clinical trial NEUROLOGY Escolar, D. M., Zimmerman, A., Bertorini, T., Clemens, P. R., Connolly, A. M., Mesa, L., Gorni, K., Kornberg, A., Kolski, H., Kuntz, N., Nevo, Y., Tesi-Rocha, C., Nagaraju, K., Rayavarapu, S., Hache, L. P., Mayhew, J. E., Florence, J., Hu, F., Arrieta, A., Henricson, E., Leshner, R. T., Mah, J. K. 2012; 78 (12): 904-913


    To determine whether pentoxifylline (PTX) slows the decline of muscle strength and function in ambulatory boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD).This was a multicenter, randomized, double-blinded, controlled trial comparing 12 months of daily treatment with PTX or placebo in corticosteroid-treated boys with DMD using a slow-release PTX formulation (~20 mg/kg/day). The primary outcome was the change in mean total quantitative muscle testing (QMT) score. Secondary outcomes included changes in QMT subscales, manual muscle strength, pulmonary function, and timed function tests. Outcomes were compared using Student t tests and a linear mixed-effects model. Adverse events (AEs) were compared using the Fisher exact test.A total of 64 boys with DMD with a mean age of 9.9 ± 2.9 years were randomly assigned to PTX or placebo in 11 participating Cooperative International Neuromuscular Research Group centers. There was no significant difference between PTX and the placebo group in total QMT scores (p = 0.14) or in most of the secondary outcomes after a 12-month treatment. The use of PTX was associated with mild to moderate gastrointestinal or hematologic AEs.The addition of PTX to corticosteroid-treated boys with DMD at a moderate to late ambulatory stage of disease did not improve or halt the deterioration of muscle strength and function over a 12-month study period.This study provides Class I evidence that treatment with PTX does not prevent deterioration in muscle function or strength in corticosteroid-treated boys with DMD.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000301937700014

    View details for PubMedID 22402864

  • LIQUID FORMULATION OF PENTOXIFYLLINE IS A POORLY TOLERATED TREATMENT FOR DUCHENNE DYSTROPHY MUSCLE & NERVE Zimmerman, A., Clemens, P. R., Tesi-Rocha, C., Connolly, A., Iannaccone, S. T., Kuntz, N., Arrieta, A., Hache, L., Henricson, E., Hu, F., Mayhew, J., Escolar, D. M. 2011; 44 (2): 170-173


    In this study we performed an open-label, pilot study of an orally administered liquid formulation of immediate-release pentoxifylline (PTX) on patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Treatment efficacy, safety, and tolerability were assessed.The tolerability and safety of PTX and measures of muscle strength and function were evaluated during 12 months of treatment.Seventeen boys with DMD, between 4 and 8 years of age, were enrolled at one of five Cooperative International Neuromuscular Research Group (CINRG) centers. Only 9 were able to complete the 12-month PTX treatment phase; the primary reason for discontinuation was adverse events. Intolerable gastrointestinal side effects were experienced by 65% of participants. Two participants had severe leukopenia that resolved with medication withdrawal.Open-label treatment with a liquid formulation of immediate-release PTX resulted in a high incidence of adverse events in boys with DMD. Poor tolerability of this PTX formulation precluded adequate assessment of efficacy.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/mus.22127

    View details for Web of Science ID 000293383700003

    View details for PubMedID 21674534

  • SPP1 genotype is a determinant of disease severity in Duchenne muscular dystrophy NEUROLOGY Pegoraro, E., Hoffman, E. P., Piva, L., Gavassini, B. F., Cagnin, S., Ermani, M., Bello, L., Soraru, G., Pacchioni, B., Bonifati, M. D., Lanfranchi, G., Angelini, C., Kesari, A., Lee, I., Gordish-Dressman, H., Devaney, J. M., McDonald, C. M. 2011; 76 (3): 219-226


    Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is the most common single-gene lethal disorder. Substantial patient-patient variability in disease onset and progression and response to glucocorticoids is seen, suggesting genetic or environmental modifiers.Two DMD cohorts were used as test and validation groups to define genetic modifiers: a Padova longitudinal cohort (n = 106) and the Cooperative International Neuromuscular Research Group (CINRG) cross-sectional natural history cohort (n = 156). Single nucleotide polymorphisms to be genotyped were selected from mRNA profiling in patients with severe vs mild DMD, and genome-wide association studies in metabolism and polymorphisms influencing muscle phenotypes in normal volunteers were studied.Effects on both disease progression and response to glucocorticoids were observed with polymorphism rs28357094 in the gene promoter of SPP1 (osteopontin). The G allele (dominant model; 35% of subjects) was associated with more rapid progression (Padova cohort log rank p = 0.003), and 12%-19% less grip strength (CINRG cohort p = 0.0003).Osteopontin genotype is a genetic modifier of disease severity in Duchenne dystrophy. Inclusion of genotype data as a covariate or in inclusion criteria in DMD clinical trials would reduce intersubject variance, and increase sensitivity of the trials, particularly in older subjects.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000286371900007

    View details for PubMedID 21178099

  • Limb-Girdle and Congenital Muscular Dystrophies: Current Diagnostics, Management, and Emerging Technologies CURRENT NEUROLOGY AND NEUROSCIENCE REPORTS Rocha, C. T., Hoffman, E. P. 2010; 10 (4): 267-276


    The muscular dystrophies show muscle degeneration and regeneration (necrotizing myopathy) on muscle biopsy, typically associated with elevated serum creatine kinase, and muscle weakness. In 1986, the first causative gene was identified for the most prevalent and best-characterized form of muscular dystrophy, Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Over the past 25 years, the number of other genes determined to cause different subtypes has grown rapidly. This review gives a synopsis of the 45 genetically defined types of muscular dystrophies and describes the clinical, pathologic, and molecular aspects of each disease. DNA diagnosis remains the most sensitive and specific method for differential diagnosis, but molecular diagnostics can be expensive and complex (because of multiple genes at multiple testing facilities) and reimbursement may be challenging to obtain. However, emerging DNA sequencing technologies (eg, single-molecule third-generation sequencing units) promise to dramatically reduce the complexity and costs of DNA diagnostics. Treatment for nearly all forms remains supportive and is aimed at preventing complications. However, several promising approaches have entered clinical trials, providing tangible hope that quality of life will improve for many patients in the near future.

    View details for DOI 10.1007/s11910-010-0119-1

    View details for Web of Science ID 000278111800003

    View details for PubMedID 20467841

  • PPAR alpha L162V underlies variation in serum triglycerides and subcutaneous fat volume in young males BMC MEDICAL GENETICS Uthurralt, J., Gordish-Dressman, H., Bradbury, M., Tesi-Rocha, C., Devaney, J., Harmon, B., Reeves, E. K., Brandoli, C., Hansen, B. C., Seip, R. L., Thompson, P. D., Price, T. B., Angelopoulos, T. J., Clarkson, P. M., Moyna, N. M., Pescatello, L. S., Visich, P. S., Zoeller, R. F., Gordon, P. M., Hoffman, E. P. 2007; 8


    Of the five sub-phenotypes defining metabolic syndrome, all are known to have strong genetic components (typically 50-80% of population variation). Studies defining genetic predispositions have typically focused on older populations with metabolic syndrome and/or type 2 diabetes. We hypothesized that the study of younger populations would mitigate many confounding variables, and allow us to better define genetic predisposition loci for metabolic syndrome.We studied 610 young adult volunteers (average age 24 yrs) for metabolic syndrome markers, and volumetric MRI of upper arm muscle, bone, and fat pre- and post-unilateral resistance training.We found the PPARalpha L162V polymorphism to be a strong determinant of serum triglyceride levels in young White males, where carriers of the V allele showed 78% increase in triglycerides relative to L homozygotes (LL = 116 +/- 11 mg/dL, LV = 208 +/- 30 mg/dL; p = 0.004). Men with the V allele showed lower HDL (LL = 42 +/- 1 mg/dL, LV = 34 +/- 2 mg/dL; p = 0.001), but women did not. Subcutaneous fat volume was higher in males carrying the V allele, however, exercise training increased fat volume of the untrained arm in V carriers, while LL genotypes significantly decreased in fat volume (LL = -1,707 +/- 21 mm3, LV = 17,617 +/- 58 mm3 ; p = 0.002), indicating a systemic effect of the V allele on adiposity after unilateral training. Our study suggests that the primary effect of PPARalpha L162V is on serum triglycerides, with downstream effects on adiposity and response to training.Our results on association of PPARalpha and triglycerides in males showed a much larger effect of the V allele than previously reported in older and less healthy populations. Specifically, we showed the V allele to increase triglycerides by 78% (p = 0.004), and this single polymorphism accounted for 3.8% of all variation in serum triglycerides in males (p = 0.0037).

    View details for DOI 10.1186/1471-2350-8-55

    View details for Web of Science ID 000250533300001

    View details for PubMedID 17705849

  • CINRG randomized controlled trial of creatine and glutamine in Duchenne muscular dystrophy ANNALS OF NEUROLOGY Escolar, D. M., Buyse, G., Henricson, E., Leshner, R., Florence, J., Mayhew, J., Tesi-Rocha, C., Gorni, K., Pasquali, L., Patel, K. M., McCarter, R., Huang, J., Mayhew, T., Bertorini, T., Carlo, J., Connolly, A. M., Clemens, P. R., Goemans, N., Iannaccone, S. T., Igarashi, M., Nevo, Y., Pestronk, A., Subramony, S. H., Vedanarayanan, V. V., Wessel, H. 2005; 58 (1): 151-155


    We tested the efficacy and safety of glutamine (0.6 gm/kg/day) and creatine (5 gm/day) in 50 ambulant boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy in a 6-month, double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial. Drug efficacy was tested by measuring muscle strength manually (34 muscle groups) and quantitatively (10 muscle groups). Timed functional tests, functional parameters, and pulmonary function tests were secondary outcome measures. Although there was no statistically significant effect of either therapy based on manual and quantitative measurements of muscle strength, a disease-modifying effect of creatine in older Duchenne muscular dystrophy and creatine and glutamine in younger Duchenne muscular dystrophy cannot be excluded. Creatine and glutamine were well tolerated.

    View details for DOI 10.1002/ana.20523

    View details for Web of Science ID 000230287900018

    View details for PubMedID 15984021

  • Update on diagnosis and treatment of hereditary and acquired polyneuropathies in childhood. Supplements to Clinical neurophysiology Rocha, C. T., Escolar, D. M. 2004; 57: 255-271

    View details for PubMedID 16106624

  • Drop episodes in Coffin-Lowry syndrome: an unusual type of startle response EPILEPTIC DISORDERS Caraballo, R., Rocha, A. T., Medina, C., Fejerman, N. 2000; 2 (3): 173-176


    We present a patient with a complete Coffin-Lowry syndrome, associated with drop episodes precipitated by sudden auditory stimuli, which provoked in turn, a definite loss of muscle tone in both legs. Electrophysiological studies showed that these episodes are an unusual type of startle response and that they may be associated with Coffin-Lowry syndrome.

    View details for Web of Science ID 000089792500007

    View details for PubMedID 11022143