Comparative morphometric evaluation of peripheral nerves and muscle fibers in myotonic dystrophy
We compared peripheral nerve fibers and muscle fibers in myotonic dystrophy (MD) using a computer-assisted device for morphometry. In the 17 cases with MD studied, the sural nerves of 14 cases (82%) showed various degrees of reduction of the myelin sheath area (MSA) per endoneurial area. Of these, 8 cases (47%) presented with a mild reduction of the MSA, 5 cases (29.4%) with moderate reduction, and one case (6%) with severe reduction. The number of myelinated nerve fibers was not significantly reduced in MD when compared with control nerves, due to clusters of small regenerated nerve fibers. The mean diameter of the muscle fibers in 6 of the 17 cases was less than 40 μm. Of these 6 severely affected cases, ¶5 revealed a considerable reduction of the MSA. Other cases, which appeared to be normal in respect to the diameter of muscle fibers, showed various degrees of reduction of the MSA. Thus, there is usually, but not always a morphometric correlation of the severity of changes between peripheral nerves and muscle. The severity of the peripheral neuropathy appears to depend largely on the patient’s age, the stage of the disorder, and the time of progression. Electron microscopic examination of sural nerves showed significant, though non-specific pathological changes.
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