Background: Heat shock protein 27 (HSP27) mutations have been reported to cause both Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) type 2F and distal hereditary motor neuropathy (dHMN) although never previously in a single family.
Objective: To analyse clinical and electrophysiological findings obtained in a single large Sardinian family bearing the HSP27 R127W mutation.
Methods: Twenty-one members of a five generation Sardinian family have been studied, including thirteen members affected by peroneal muscular atrophy and proved heterozygous for the known HSP27 R127W mutation. Twelve patients and eight unaffected relatives were subjected to clinical examination. A standardised electrophysiological study was performed in eleven patients and six unaffected relatives.
Results: Mean age at onset (+/-SD) was 31.2+/-7.2 years. Mean age at investigation was 45.2+/-12.9 years and mean disease duration at the time of investigation was 14+/-12.9 years. According to current criteria for CMT2 and dHMN, of the 10 patients who had undergone both clinical and neurophysiological examination, five were diagnosed as CMT2, two as dHMN and a further two patients were labelled as an intermediate type. Finally, due to the presence of spastic paraplegia, the index patient did not meet established criteria for the diagnosis of CMT or dHMN.
Discussion: Findings obtained in the present study, broadening the spectrum of clinical manifestations of disorders associated with HSP27 mutations, support the hypothesis of a continuum between CMT2 and dHMN forms and suggest a possible common spectrum between these entities and several forms of CMT plus pyramidal features (HMSN V), providing important implications for molecular genetic testing.