This multidisciplinary study was undertaken to record the variation in gene and protein expression in a large cohort of patients with well defined clinical phenotypes. The patients, whose ages ranged from 4 years to 66 years, spanned a wide range of disease severity. They represented the first 100 patients who had been examined in Newcastle, had undergone a muscle biopsy, and provided a blood sample for DNA analysis. The study had three aims: to observe any trends in the analyses across the clinical groups, to correlate gene and protein expression in individual patients, and to use the data collected to assess the relative usefulness of different techniques in the diagnosis and prognosis of patients with Duchenne and Becker dystrophy (DMD/BMD). In part 1, we describe the clinical assessment of the patients and the trends that were observed across the cohort. The patients were divided into seven groups. Group 1 had severe DMD (n = 21), group 2 had milder DMD (n = 20), group 3 were intermediate D/BMD patients (n = 9), group 4 had severe BMD (n = 5), and group 5 were more typical BMD patients (n = 31). Some patients were too young to be classified (n = 7) and a group of all the female patients were also classified separately (n = 7). The number of DMD and BMD patients was about equal, in accord with disease prevalence in the north of England, but an unusually high proportion were sporadic cases. Dystrophin labelling (performed with up to three antibodies) on both blots and sections increased gradually across the clinical groups. All histopathological indices, except the proportion of fat in biopsy sections, showed clear trends across the groups.
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