Molecular mechanisms, diagnosis, and rational approaches to management of and therapy for Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease and related peripheral neuropathies

J Investig Med. 2003 Sep;51(5):261-83. doi: 10.1136/jim-51-05-14.


During the last decade, 18 genes and 11 additional loci harboring candidate genes have been associated with Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) and related peripheral neuropathies. Ten of these 18 genes have been identified in the last 2 years. This phenomenal pace of CMT gene discovery has fomented an unprecedented explosion of information regarding peripheral nerve biology and its pathologic manifestations in CMT. This review integrates molecular genetics with the clinical phenotypes and provides a flowchart for molecular-based diagnostics. In addition, we discuss rational approaches to molecular therapeutics, including novel biologic molecules (eg, small interfering ribonucleic acid [siRNA], antisense RNA, and ribozymes) that potentially could be used as drugs in the future. These may be applicable in attempts to normalize gene expression in cases of CMT type 1A, wherein a 1.5 Mb genomic duplication causes an increase in gene dosage that is associated with the majority of CMT cases. Aggresome formation by the PMP22 gene product, the disease-associated gene in the duplication cases, could thus be avoided. We also discuss alternative therapeutics, in light of other neurodegenerative disorders, to disrupt such aggresomes. Finally, we review rational therapeutic approaches, including the use of antioxidants such as vitamin E, coenzyme Q10, or lipoic acid to relax potential oxidative stress in peripheral nerves, for CMT management.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease* / genetics
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease* / pathology
  • Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease* / therapy
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease
  • Humans
  • Molecular Diagnostic Techniques
  • Mutation