Neonatal screening for Duchenne muscular dystrophy: a novel semiquantitative application of the bioluminescence test for creatine kinase in a pilot national program in Cyprus

Genet Test. 1998;2(1):55-60. doi: 10.1089/gte.1998.2.55.


The objectives of this study were to evaluate a novel semiquantitative application of the bioluminescence test for screening newborns for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and to use this technique in a pilot national program. The study was performed on the island of Cyprus, which provides ideal conditions for maximizing the prevention rate due to the small size of the country, the well-defined population, and the high degree of awareness of the public concerning genetic diseases. Guthrie spots were obtained through the national screening center for phenylketonuria and congenital hypothyroidism. The bioluminescence method for measuring creatine kinase (CK) in dried blood spots was adapted for use in a semiquantitative way. During the first 6 years of the program (1992-1997), we screened 30,014 samples and found 43 with initially high CK values. We were able to obtain repeat specimens in 35 cases. Of the repeat samples, 30 were found to have normal activity, giving a false-positive rate of 0.10%. Five boys had persistent CK elevations and were confirmed to be DMD or Becker (BMD) cases by DNA analysis and/or dystrophin analysis. The semiquantitative application of the bioluminescence assay of CK that we have introduced has proved to be a fast and reliable method for screening large numbers of samples for DMD. It has a low rate of false positives, which compares favorably with that of other DMD screening programs. Although it is early to evaluate its impact fully, the program seems to be bringing about the anticipated benefits to affected families.

MeSH terms

  • Creatine Kinase / blood*
  • Cyprus / epidemiology
  • DNA Mutational Analysis
  • Dystrophin / blood*
  • False Positive Reactions
  • Genetic Testing / methods*
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Isoenzymes
  • Luminescent Measurements
  • Male
  • Muscular Dystrophies / diagnosis*
  • Muscular Dystrophies / epidemiology
  • Muscular Dystrophies / genetics
  • Neonatal Screening / methods*
  • Pilot Projects


  • Dystrophin
  • Isoenzymes
  • Creatine Kinase