Background: Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 1A (CMT1A) is the most common inherited neuropathy, a debilitating disease without known cure. Among patients with CMT1A, disease manifestation, progression and severity are strikingly variable, which poses major challenges for the development of new therapies. Hence, there is a strong need for sensitive outcome measures such as disease and progression biomarkers, which would add powerful tools to monitor therapeutic effects in CMT1A.
Methods: We established a pan-European and American consortium comprising nine clinical centres including 311 patients with CMT1A in total. From all patients, the CMT neuropathy score and secondary outcome measures were obtained and a skin biopsy collected. In order to assess and validate disease severity and progression biomarkers, we performed qPCR on a set of 16 animal model-derived potential biomarkers in skin biopsy mRNA extracts.
Results: In 266 patients with CMT1A, a cluster of eight cutaneous transcripts differentiates disease severity with a sensitivity and specificity of 90% and 76.1%, respectively. In an additional cohort of 45 patients with CMT1A, from whom a second skin biopsy was taken after 2-3 years, the cutaneous mRNA expression of GSTT2, CTSA, PPARG, CDA, ENPP1 and NRG1-Iis changing over time and correlates with disease progression.
Conclusions: In summary, we provide evidence that cutaneous transcripts in patients with CMT1A serve as disease severity and progression biomarkers and, if implemented into clinical trials, they could markedly accelerate the development of a therapy for CMT1A.
Keywords: Charcot Marie Tooth disease 1A; biomarker; disease progression; disease severity; skin biopsy.
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