Neurological, Cardiological, and Oculomotor Progression in 104 Patients with Friedreich ataxia during long-term follow-up

  • Ribaï P
  • Pousset F
  • Tanguy M
 et al. 
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BACKGROUND: Friedreich ataxia (FA) is the most frequent autosomal recessive cerebellar ataxia. Although the phenotype is well known, disease progression has not been evaluated in a prospective manner. OBJECTIVE: To perform a long-term prospective follow-up of neurological, cardiological, and oculomotor function in patients with FA (FA patients). DESIGN: In this open-labeled prospective survey, we examined 104 FA patients every 6 months during a median period of 5 years (range, 6 months to 7 years), with a systematic standardized protocol. Data are reported as mean +/- SD. SETTING: Neurological examinations were performed at the Federation of Neurology and the Department of Genetics of the Salpêtrière Hospital, Paris, France. Cardiological follow-up was performed at the Department of Cardiology; oculomotor examinations were performed at the Institut National de la Santé et de la Récherche Médicale Unit 679, at the same hospital. Patients We studied 104 FA patients with a confirmed molecular diagnosis. None were receiving antioxidant therapy at baseline; 88 accepted treatment with the coenzyme Q(10) analogue idebenone (5 mg/kg per day). Sixteen preferred not to be treated. INTERVENTIONS: Neurological status was evaluated with the International Cooperative Ataxia Rating Scale (ICARS) and a quantitative writing test. Cardiological evaluations included echocardiography, electrocardiography, and Holter monitoring. Oculomotor function was evaluated by electro-oculography to determine the frequency of square wave jerks. RESULTS: The total ICARS score worsened during follow-up, whether or not the patients were treated with idebenone (1.93 +/- 0.25 and 4.43 +/- 1.56 points per year, respectively). The total ICARS score increased faster in patients with onset before age 15 years compared with the others (2.6 +/- 0.4 [n = 51] vs 1.1 +/- 0.3 [n = 37]; P = .05). The posture subscore increased faster in patients able to stand at baseline, who also had shorter disease durations than patients unable to stand (1.25 +/- 0.12 vs 0.47 +/- 0.22 point per year; P

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