In this Article
- *Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) facts
- What is Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease?
- What are the signs and symptoms of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease? What is the prognosis of CMT?
- What causes Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease?
- What are the types of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease?
- How is Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease diagnosed?
- How is Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease treated?
- What research is being done?
- Where can I get more information?
What are the types of Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease?
There are many forms of CMT disease, including CMT1, CMT2, CMT3, CMT4, and CMTX. CMT1, caused by abnormalities in the myelin sheath, has three main types. CMT1A is an autosomal dominant disease that results from a duplication of the gene on chromosome 17 that carries the instructions for producing the peripheral myelin protein-22 (PMP-22). The PMP-22 protein is a critical component of the myelin sheath. Overexpression of this gene causes the structure and function of the myelin sheath to be abnormal. Patients experience weakness and atrophy of the muscles of the lower legs beginning in adolescence; later they experience hand weakness and sensory loss. Interestingly, a different neuropathy distinct from CMT1A called hereditary neuropathy with predisposition to pressure palsy (HNPP) is caused by a deletion of one of the PMP-22 genes. In this case, abnormally low levels of the PMP-22 gene result in episodic, recurrent demyelinating neuropathy. CMT1B is an autosomal dominant disease caused by mutations in the gene that carries the instructions for manufacturing the myelin protein zero (P0), which is another critical component of the myelin sheath. Most of these mutations are point mutations, meaning a mistake occurs in only one letter of the DNA genetic code. To date, scientists have identified more than 120 different point mutations in the P0 gene. As a result of abnormalities in P0, CMT1B produces symptoms similar to those found in CMT1A. The less common CMT1C, CMT1D, and CMT1E, which also have symptoms similar to those found in CMT1A, are caused by mutations in the LITAF, EGR2, and NEFL genes, respectively.
CMT2 results from abnormalities in the axon of the peripheral nerve cell rather than the myelin sheath. It is less common than CMT1. CMT2A, the most common axonal form of CMT, is caused by mutations in Mitofusin 2, a protein associated with mitochondrial fusion. CMT2A has also been linked to mutations in the gene that codes for the kinesin family member 1B-beta protein, but this has not been replicated in other cases. Kinesins are proteins that act as motors to help power the transport of materials along the cell. Other less common forms of CMT2 have been recently identified and are associated with various genes: CMT2B (associated with RAB7), CMT2D (GARS). CMT2E (NEFL), CMT2H (HSP27), and CMT2l (HSP22).
CMT3 or Dejerine-Sottas disease is a severe demyelinating neuropathy that begins in infancy. Infants have severe muscle atrophy, weakness, and sensory problems. This rare disorder can be caused by a specific point mutation in the P0 gene or a point mutation in the PMP-22 gene.
CMT4 comprises several different subtypes of autosomal recessive demyelinating motor and sensory neuropathies. Each neuropathy subtype is caused by a different genetic mutation, may affect a particular ethnic population, and produces distinct physiologic or clinical characteristics. Individuals with CMT4 generally develop symptoms of leg weakness in childhood and by adolescence they may not be able to walk. Several genes have been identified as causing CMT4, including GDAP1 (CMT4A), MTMR13 (CMT4B1), MTMR2 (CMT4B2), SH3TC2 (CMT4C), NDG1 (CMT4D), EGR2 (CMT4E), PRX (CMT4F), FDG4 (CMT4H), and FIG4 (CMT4J).
CMTX is caused by a point mutation in the connexin-32 gene on the X chromosome. The connexin-32 protein is expressed in Schwann cells-cells that wrap around nerve axons, making up a single segment of the myelin sheath. This protein may be involved in Schwann cell communication with the axon. Males who inherit one mutated gene from their mothers show moderate to severe symptoms of the disease beginning in late childhood or adolescence (the Y chromosome that males inherit from their fathers does not have the connexin-32 gene). Females who inherit one mutated gene from one parent and one normal gene from the other parent may develop mild symptoms in adolescence or later or may not develop symptoms of the disease at all.
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