Congenital muscular dystrophy with rigid spine syndrome: A clinical, pathological, radiological, and genetic study

Kevin M. Flanigan, Lynne Kerr, Mark B. Bromberg, Claire Leonard, Jay Tsuruda, Ping Zhang, Ignacio Gonzalez-Gomez, Ronald Cohn, Kevin P. Campbell, Mark Leppert

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

79 Scopus citations


Rigid spine syndrome is a term first proposed by Dubowitz to describe a subset of patients affected by myopathy with early spinal contractures as a prominent feature. While spinal rigidity is a nonspecific feature, found in Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy and in some congenital myopathies, it is also a prominent feature in a group of patients with merosin-positive congenital muscular dystrophy, where it is generally associated with stable or only slowly progressive weakness and early respiratory insufficiency. Recently, the first locus for congenital muscular dystrophy in association with rigid spine syndrome was mapped to chromosome 1p35-p36 in consanguineous Moroccan, Turkish, and Iranian families. We present here a detailed phenotypic description of the familial syndrome linked to this locus, describing 4 siblings (3 boys and 1 girl) of Northern European-American heritage who are the offspring of a nonconsanguineous marriage. All 4 siblings were affected by hypotonia and prominent neck weakness in infancy, early spinal rigidity, and early scoliosis. After initial improvement, muscle strength stabilizes or slowly declines, and skeletal deformities and respiratory insufficiency supervene. Muscle biopsy in an affected child at age 9 months revealed minimal, nonspecific myopathic changes, leading to a diagnosis of 'minimal change myopathy.' Muscle biopsy in his sibling, at the age of 14 years, revealed chronic and severe myopathic (dystrophic) changes, with normal staining for laminin-2 and for proteins of the dystrophin- glycoprotein complex. A possible explanation for these biopsy findings is that magnetic resonance imaging of the thighs reveals stereotyped selective muscle involvement, with the selectivity more pronounced early in the disease course followed by widespread muscular signal abnormalities in the late stages of the disease. In this family, linkage to the chromosome 1p rigid spine syndrome locus (RSMD1) is supported by maximum LOD scores for several markers of 1.81 at Θ = 0, representing the maximum statistical power possible for this family. In combination with the previous report, this syndrome is linked to the RSMD1 locus with a summated maximum LOD score of 6.29, and analysis of recombination events in our family narrows the previously reported RSMD1 locus to 3 centiMorgans.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)152-161
Number of pages10
JournalAnnals of neurology
Issue number2
StatePublished - 2000
Externally publishedYes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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