Endocrine Dysfunction in Patients With Myotonic Dystrophy

J Clin Endocrinol Metab. 2021 Sep 27;106(10):2819-2827. doi: 10.1210/clinem/dgab430.


Myotonic dystrophy is a dominantly inherited multisystem disorder that results from increased CTG repeats in the 3' region of the myotonic dystrophy protein kinase gene (DMPK). The mutant DMPK mRNA remains in the nucleus and sequesters RNA-binding proteins, including regulators of mRNA splicing. Myotonic dystrophy is characterized by a highly variable phenotype that includes muscle weakness and myotonia, and the disorder may affect the function of many endocrine glands. DMPK mRNA is expressed in muscle, testis, liver, pituitary, thyroid, and bone; the mutated form leads to disruption of meiosis and an increase in fetal insulin receptor-A relative to adult insulin receptor-B, resulting in adult primary testicular failure and insulin resistance predisposing to diabetes, respectively. Patients with myotonic dystrophy are also at increased risk for hyperlipidemia, nonalcoholic fatty liver disease, erectile dysfunction, benign and malignant thyroid nodules, bone fractures, miscarriage, preterm delivery, and failed labor during delivery. Circulating parathyroid hormone and adrenocorticotropic hormone levels may be elevated, but the mechanisms for these associations are unclear. This review summarizes what is known about endocrine dysfunction in individuals with myotonic dystrophy.

Keywords: ACTH; hyperparathyroidism; insulin resistance; male hypogonadism; myotonic dystrophy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Endocrine System / physiopathology*
  • Endocrine System Diseases / genetics*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Myotonic Dystrophy / genetics*
  • Myotonic Dystrophy / physiopathology*
  • Myotonin-Protein Kinase / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • RNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism


  • DMPK protein, human
  • RNA, Messenger
  • RNA-Binding Proteins
  • Myotonin-Protein Kinase