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Pilot trial of albuterol in facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy. FSH-DY Group.
Neurology 1998 May;50(5):1402-6

Kissel JT, McDermott MP, Natarajan R, Mendell JR, Pandya S, King WM, Griggs RC, Tawil R
Department of Neurology, Ohio State University, Columbus 43210, USA.

BACKGROUND/OBJECTIVE: Facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) is currently untreatable, and there have been few therapeutic trials of any agent in the disease. Animal studies have demonstrated that beta2-adrenergic agonists induce muscle hypertrophy and prevent atrophy after a variety of physical and biochemical insults, and two human studies have shown that these agents increase certain measures of strength in healthy volunteers. We conducted an open-label pilot trial of a beta2-agonist (albuterol) in patients with FSHD. METHODS: Fifteen FSHD patients were given sustained-release albuterol (16.0 mg/day) for 3 months. The primary outcome measure was lean body mass, which was assessed through dual energy X-ray absorptiometry (DEXA). Strength was evaluated through maximal voluntary isometric contraction testing (MVICT) and manual muscle testing. RESULTS: Albuterol significantly increased DEXA lean body mass (the skeletal muscle compartment) by 1.29 +/- 1.18 kg (mean +/- SD, p = 0.001). Strength assessed through composite MVICT scores also increased by an average of 0.33 +/- 0.60 (p = 0.05), representing an overall 12% improvement in strength. CONCLUSIONS: These encouraging results suggest that beta2-agonists may have a role in treating FSHD and possibly other neuromuscular diseases. The effects of albuterol in FSHD are currently being evaluated in a larger, randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled trial lasting 1 year.

Publication Types:
Clinical trial
PMID: 9595995, UI: 98255434

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