Objective: To characterize the short-term course of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) in a genetically and clinically well-defined cohort of patients with SMA.
Design: A comprehensive multicenter, longitudinal, observational study.
Setting: The Pediatric Neuromuscular Clinical Research Network for SMA, a consortium of clinical investigators at 3 clinical sites.
Participants: Sixty-five participants with SMA types 2 and 3, aged 20 months to 45 years, were prospectively evaluated.
Intervention: We collected demographic and medical history information and determined the SMN 2 copy number.
Main outcome measures: Clinical outcomes included measures of motor function (Gross Motor Function Measure and expanded Hammersmith Functional Motor Scale), pulmonary function (forced vital capacity), and muscle strength (myometry). Participants were evaluated every 2 months for the initial 6 months and every 3 months for the subsequent 6 months. We evaluated change over 12 months for all clinical outcomes and examined potential correlates of change over time including age, sex, SMA type, ambulatory status, SMN2 copy number, medication use, and baseline function.
Results: There were no significant changes over 12 months in motor function, pulmonary function, and muscle strength measures. There was evidence of motor function gain in ambulatory patients, especially in those children younger than 5 years. Scoliosis surgery during the observation period led to a subsequent decline in motor function.
Conclusions: Our results confirm previous clinical reports suggesting that SMA types 2 and 3 represent chronic phenotypes that have relatively stable clinical courses. We did not detect any measurable clinical disease progression in SMA types 2 and 3 over 12 months, suggesting that clinical trials will have to be designed to measure improvement rather than stabilization of disease progression.