A 22-year follow-up reveals a variable disease severity in early-onset facioscapulohumeral dystrophy

Eur J Paediatr Neurol. 2018 Sep;22(5):782-785. doi: 10.1016/j.ejpn.2018.04.013. Epub 2018 May 3.


Aim: To assess the long-term natural course of early-onset facioscapulohumeral dystrophy (FSHD), which is important for patient management and trial-readiness, and is currently lacking.

Methods: We had the unique opportunity to evaluate 10 patients with early-onset FSHD after 22 years follow-up. Patients underwent a semi-structured interview, physical examination and additional genotyping.

Results: Nine initial study participants (median age 37 years) were included, one patient died shortly after first publication. At first examination, one patient was wheelchair dependent, one patient walked aided, and eight patients walked unaided. After 22 years, four patients were wheelchair dependent, three walked aided, and two walked unaided. Systemic features, including hearing loss (56%), intellectual disability (44%), and a decreased respiratory function (56%), were frequent. Patients participated socially and economically with most patients living in a regular house (n = 6) and/or having a paid job (n = 4).

Discussion: Patients with early-onset FSHD generally had a severe phenotype compared to classical onset FSHD. However, after 22 years of follow up they showed a wide variation in severity and, despite these physical limitations, participated socially and economically. These observations are important for patient management and should be taken into account in clinical trials.

Keywords: Early-onset FSHD; Facioscapulohumeral dystrophy; Infantile FSHD; Natural history; Neuromuscular disorders.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Female
  • Follow-Up Studies
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Facioscapulohumeral* / complications
  • Phenotype