Longitudinal Assessment of Strength, Functional Capacity, Oropharyngeal Function, and Quality of Life in Oculopharyngeal Muscular Dystrophy

Background and Objectives

Oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD) is a late-onset, progressive muscle disease. Disease progression is known to be slow, but details on the natural history remain unknown. We aimed to examine the natural history of OPMD in a large nationwide cohort to determine clinical outcome measures that capture disease progression and can be used in future clinical trials.

Methods

Patients invited by their treating physicians or identified from the national neuromuscular database and invited family members were examined twice 20 months apart with fixed dynamometry; Medical Research Council (MRC) grading; maximum bite force and isometric tongue strength; Motor Function Measure (MFM); 10-step stair test; maximum swallowing, chewing, and speech tasks; and quality of life assessments.

Results

Disease progression was captured by 8 of 18 measures over 20 months in 43 patients with genetically confirmed OPMD. The largest deterioration was seen in deltoid muscle strength (–27% [range –17% to –37%]), followed by the quadriceps (–14% [range –6 to –23%]), iliopsoas (–12.2%), tongue (–9.9%), and MRC sum score (–2.5%). The 10-step stair test (–12.5%), MFM part D1 (–7.1%), and maximum repetition rate of /pa/ (–5.3%) showed a significant decrease as well (all p < 0.05). The Physical Functioning domain of the Short Form-36 Health Survey significantly deteriorated (p = 0.044). No relationship was found between disease progression and genotype or disease duration (p > 0.05).

Discussion

Despite the slow disease progression of OPMD, this study showed that several outcome measures detected progression within 20 months. Deltoid muscle strength, measured by fixed dynamometry, showed the greatest decline. These longitudinal data provide clinical outcome measures that can be used as biomarkers in future clinical trials.

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