Assessing the influence of age and gender on the phenotype of myotonic dystrophy type 2

J Neurol. 2017 Dec;264(12):2472-2480. doi: 10.1007/s00415-017-8653-2. Epub 2017 Oct 30.


This study aims to provide a detailed clinical characterization of a large cohort of myotonic dystrophy type 2 (DM2) patients investigating the influence of age and gender as modifying factors of DM2 phenotype. A retrospective study was conducted on 307 patients with genetically confirmed DM2. The following data were analyzed: (1) demographics, (2) clinical features (first symptom, muscular complaints, and multisystemic involvement), (3) diagnostics (serological tests, electromyography, and muscle biopsy). In this cohort (186 females, 121 males), a proximal weakness was the leading symptom at onset (55.4%), followed by myalgia (35.5%) and myotonia (25.4%). Proximal weakness was more common in women than men (64.9 vs. 43.8%, p = 0.0006), whereas being male was associated with higher odds for developing myalgia [OR 2.94 (95% CI 1.53-5.67)]. Patients with muscle weakness at onset were older than those with myalgia and myotonia (p < 0.0001), while each additional disease year was associated with 10% decrease in the odds of developing myotonia [OR 0.9 (95% CI 0.87-0.93)] and 6% decrease of myalgia [OR 0.94 (95% CI 0.91-0.97)]. Cataract and thyroid diseases occurred more frequently in women (p = 0.002 and p = 0.002, respectively). Early onset of DM2 is an independent risk factor for the occurrence of multisystemic involvement [OR 0.94 (95% CI 0.90-0.98)]. In this updated clinical description of DM2 emerges a profound gender and age influence on the phenotype, emphasizing that female gender and ageing may be associated with a higher disease burden. These age- and gender-specific differences should be considered in diagnostics, management, and future clinical studies of DM2.

Keywords: CNBP; DM2; Myotonic dystrophy type 2; PROMM; Phenotype.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aging*
  • Cohort Studies
  • Electromyography
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Myotonic Dystrophy / diagnosis
  • Myotonic Dystrophy / epidemiology*
  • Myotonic Dystrophy / etiology*
  • Myotonic Dystrophy / genetics
  • Neurologic Examination
  • Phenotype
  • Sex Characteristics*