Shen MM, Rummey C, Lynch DR.

Most individuals with Friedreich ataxia (FRDA) have homozygous GAA triplet repeat expansions in the FXN gene, correlating with a typical phenotype of ataxia and cardiomyopathy. A minority are compound heterozygotes carrying a GAA expansion on one allele and a mutation on the other. The study aim was to examine phenotypic variation among compound heterozygotes. Data on FXN mutations were obtained from the Friedreich Ataxia Clinical Outcome Measures Study (FA-COMS). The authors compared clinical features in a single-site FA-COMS cohort of 51 compound heterozygous and 358 homozygous patients, including quantitative measures of cardiac, neurologic, and visual disease progression. Non-GAA repeat mutations were associated with reduced cardiac disease, and patients with minimal/no function mutations otherwise had a typical FRDA phenotype but with significantly more severe progression. The partial function mutation group was characterized by relative sparing of bulbar and upper limb function, as well as particularly low cardiac involvement. Other clinical features in this group, including optic atrophy and diabetes mellitus, varied widely depending on the specific type of partial function mutation. These data support that the typical FRDA phenotype is driven by frataxin deficiency, especially severe in compound heterozygotes with minimal/no function mutations, whereas the heterogeneous presentations of those with partial function mutations may indicate other contributing factors to FRDA pathogenesis.

Read More Here