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Sensory involvement in X-linked spino-bulbar muscular atrophy (Kennedy's syndrome): An electrophysiological study

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Electrophysiological findings were studied in a family with spino-bulbar muscular atrophy (SBMA): the subjects were three male patients aged 58, 38 and 34 years and two female carriers aged 63 and 28 years. Diagnosis was proven at the molecular genetic level. Electromyography in the males showed spontaneous activity and neurogenic reorganization of the motor unit; motor nerve conduction was normal. Sensory action potentials were variably reduced in amplitude, but some were completely normal. Somatosensory evoked potentials, from both the upper and lower limbs, were invariably abnormal because involvement of the central pathways was observed. These findings are in agreement with histological investigations documenting lesions in the posterior columns. Brain-stem acoustic evoked potentials showed an increase in wave I latency. The electrophysiological data provide further evidence of the extent of sensory damage either in the central or the peripheral nervous system in SBMA patients, who otherwise have a constant clinical presentation of progressive motor neuron disease.

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Correspondence to Alberto Polo.

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Polo, A., Teatini, F., D'Anna, S. et al. Sensory involvement in X-linked spino-bulbar muscular atrophy (Kennedy's syndrome): An electrophysiological study. J Neurol 243, 388–392 (1996).

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Key words

  • X-Linked recessive spino-bulbar muscular atrophy
  • Somatosensory evoked potentials
  • Neuronopathy