Purpose of review: The aim is to review the recent findings in relation to the genetics, pathophysiology, clinical phenotypes, investigation and treatment of the nondystrophic myotonias (NDMs) and periodic paralyses.
Recent findings: The number of pathogenic mutations causing NDMs and periodic paralyses in known genes continues to expand. In addition, a mutation has been identified in the ryanodine receptor gene manifesting as an atypical periodic paralysis phenotype. Another recent study indicated that thyrotoxic hypokalaemic periodic paralysis is determined by mutations in a novel gene encoding an inwardly rectifying potassium channel, Kir2.6. Work studying molecular mechanisms indicates that 90% of the known mutations causing hypokalaemic periodic paralysis (HypoPP) result in loss of positively charged arginine residues in the S4 segments of either SCN4A or CACNA1S, possibly creating a gating-pore current that may be important in the pathogenesis of HypoPP. Recent studies evaluating clinical features and health status in NDM patients have provided more detailed insights into the significant morbidity associated with these diseases. Ultrasound has been successfully used to demonstrate muscle abnormalities in NDM patients and magnetic resonance spectroscopy studies applied to HypoPP patients suggest that this technique can demonstrate both disease-related and treatment-related changes.
Summary: Recent discoveries in the skeletal muscle channelopathies have increased our understanding of the genetics and pathophysiology of these diseases. Studies reporting imaging techniques raise the possibility of improved disease monitoring and better outcome measures for clinical trials. Randomized controlled trials to establish an evidence base upon which to recommend standard treatments are required.