Objective: 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.
Methods: 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.
Results: 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).
Conclusions: 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.