X-linked Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease with connexin 32 mutations: Clinical and electrophysiologic study

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To relate X-linked Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMTX) phenotypes to gender and type of neuropathy by the study of a large series of CMTX patients with proven Cx32 point mutations.


CMTX is an X-linked form of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease, caused by mutations in the connexin 32 gene. Males are usually more severely affected and have slower nerve conduction velocities than females.


Forty-eight patients from 10 families with Cx32 mutations were examined clinically and electrophysiologically. Mutations were characterized in index cases by automatic sequencing and detected in at-risk individuals by polymerase chain reaction (PCR)-restriction or single strand conformation polymorphism (SSCP) analysis. Two patients from different families had light and electron microscopy examination of a sural nerve biopsy.


Males (n = 21) were more severely affected than females (n = 27), although six of the females were severely disabled. In the majority of males, the median motor nerve conduction velocity (MNCV) was between 30 and 40 m/s, whereas in females it ranged from 30 to normal values. Two children with mutation, a 6-year-old boy and a 7-year-old girl, were normal clinically and electrophysiologically. In most patients, the amplitude of motor nerve compound muscle action potentials (CMAP) was reduced in all nerves tested. MNCV was reduced as a function of the degree of axonal loss. A significant correlation was found between the decrease in CMAP amplitude and MNCV in the median, ulnar, and peroneal nerves. Sural nerve biopsies in one patient with a missense and one with a nonsense mutation both showed axonal neuropathy.


Electrophysiologic and histologic findings support primary axonal neuropathy in CMTX with Cx32 mutations. Clinical and electrophysiologic data in males with different missense mutations in the of Cx32 gene differed significantly. Furthermore, males with a nonsense mutation (Arg22Stop) had earlier onset and a more severe phenotype than males with missense mutations.

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