J Med Genet 38:649-657 doi:10.1136/jmg.38.10.649
  • Review article

The expanding phenotype of laminin α2 chain (merosin) abnormalities: case series and review


Initial reports of patients with laminin α2 chain (merosin) deficiency had a relatively homogeneous phenotype, with classical congenital muscular dystrophy (CMD) characterised by severe muscle weakness, inability to achieve independent ambulation, markedly raised creatine kinase, and characteristic white matter hypodensity on cerebral magnetic resonance imaging. We report a series of five patients with laminin α2 deficiency, only one of whom has this severe classical CMD phenotype, and review published reports to characterise the expanded phenotype of laminin α2 deficiency, as illustrated by this case series. While classical congenital muscular dystrophy with white matter abnormality is the commonest phenotype associated with laminin α2 deficiency, 12% of reported cases have later onset, slowly progressive weakness more accurately designated limb-girdle muscular dystrophy. In addition, the following clinical features are reported with increased frequency: mental retardation (∼6%), seizures (∼8%), subclinical cardiac involvement (3-35%), and neuronal migration defects (4%). At least 25% of patients achieve independent ambulation. Notably, three patients with laminin α2 deficiency were asymptomatic, 10 patients had normal MRI (four withLAMA2 mutations reported), and between 10-20% of cases had maximum recorded creatine kinase of less than 1000 U/l. LAMA2 mutations have been identified in 25% of cases. Sixty eight percent of these have the classical congenital muscular dystrophy, but this figure is likely to be affected by ascertainment bias. We conclude that all dystrophic muscle biopsies, regardless of clinical phenotype, should be studied with antibodies to laminin α2. In addition, the use of multiple antibodies to different regions of laminin α2 may increase the diagnostic yield and provide some correlation with severity of clinical phenotype.