Myotubular myopathy




Myotubular myopathy (also called Centronuclear myopathy) is a group of congenital myopathies where cell nuclei are abnormally located in skeletal muscle cells. In Myotubular myopathy the nuclei are located at a position in the center of the cell, instead of their normal location at the periphery.

Symptoms of Myotubular myopathy include severe hypotonia, hypoxia-requiring breathing assistance, and scaphocephaly. Among centronuclear myopathies, the X-linked myotubular myopathy form typically presents at birth, and is thus considered a congenital myopathy. However, some centronuclear myopathies may present later in life.


As with other myopathies, the clinical manifestations of Myotubular myopathy is most notably muscle weakness and associated disabilities. Congenital forms often present with neonatal low muscle tone, severe weakness, delayed developmental milestones (particularly gross motor milestones such as head control, crawling, and walking) and pulmonary complications (presumably due to weakness of the muscles responsible for respiration). While some patients with centronuclear myopathies remain ambulatory throughout their adult life, others may never crawl or walk and may require wheelchair use for mobility. There is substantial variability in the degree of functional impairment among the various centronuclear myopathies. Although this condition only affects the voluntary muscles, several children have suffered from cardiac arrest, possibly due to the additional stress placed on the heart.

Other observed features have been high arched palate, long digits, bell shaped chest and long face.

Myotubular myopathy only affects muscles and does not impact intelligence in any shape or form.

X-linked myotubular myopathy was traditionally a fatal condition of infancy, with life expectancy of usually less than two years. There appears to be substantial variability in the clinical severity for different genetic abnormalities at that same MTM1 gene. Further, published cases show significant differences in clinical severity among relatives with the same genetic abnormality at the MTM1 gene. Most truncating mutations of MTM1 cause a severe and early lethal phenotype, while some missense mutations are associated with milder forms and prolonged survival (up to 54 years).

Myotubular myopathy typically have a milder presentation and a better prognosis. Recently, researchers discovered mutations at the gene dynamin 2 (DNM2 on chromosome 19, at site 19p13.2), responsible for the autosomal dominant form of centronuclear myopathy. This condition is now known as dynamin 2 centronuclear myopathy (abbreviated DNM2-CNM). Research has indicated that patients with DNM2-CNM have a slowly progressive muscular weakness usually beginning in adolescence or early adulthood, with an age range of 12 to 74 years.


The genetic abnormality associated with the X-linked form of myotubular myopathy (XLMTM) was first localized in 1990 to the X chromosome at site Xq28. MTM1 codes for the myotubularin protein, a highly conserved lipid phosphatase involved in cellular transport, trafficking and signalling. Approximately 80% of males with myotubular myopathy diagnosed by muscle biopsy have mutations in MTM1, and about 7% of these mutations are genetic deletions.

Myotubular myopathy where the genetic abnormality is NOT sex-linked (e.g., not located on the X chromosome) are considered autosomal. Autosomal abnormalities can either be dominant or recessive, and are often referred to as AD for "autosomal dominant" or AR for "autosomal recessive").

Many researchers use the term "myotubular myopathy" (MTM) only for cases when the genetic test has come back positive for abnormalities (genetic mutations) at the MTM1 gene on the X chromosome. Cases with a centronuclear (nucleus in the center) appearance on muscle biopsy but a normal genetic test for MTM1 would be referred to as centronuclear myopathy until such time as a specific genetic site is identified to give a more detailed sub-classification.


Not known.


Electrodiagnostic testing (also called electrophysiologic) includes nerve conduction studies which involves stimulating a peripheral motor or sensory nerve and recording the response, and needle electromyography, where a thin needle or pin-like electrode is inserted into the muscle tissue to look for abnormal electrical activity.

Electrodiagnostic testing can help distinguish myopathies from neuropathies, which can help determine the course of further work-up. Most of the electrodiagnostic abnormalities seen in myopathies are also seen in neuropathies (nerve disorders). Electrodiagnostic abnormalities common to myopathies and neuropathies include; abnormal spontaneous activity (e.g., fibrillations, positive sharp waves, etc.) on needle EMG and, small amplitudes of the motor responses compound muscle action potential, or CMAP during nerve conduction studies. Many neuropathies, however, cause abnormalities of sensory nerve studies, whereas myopathies involve only the muscle, with normal sensory nerves. The most important factor distinguishing a myopathy from a neuropathy on needle EMG is the careful analysis of the motor unit action potential (MUAP) size, shape, and recruitment pattern.

There is substantial overlap between the electrodiagnostic findings the various types of myopathy. Thus, electrodiagnostic testing can help distinguish neuropathy from myopathy, but is not effective at distinguishing which specific myopathy is present, here muscle biopsy and perhaps subsequent genetic testing are required.


Prognosis of Myopathy, myotubular: progressive muscle weakness.


Currently there is no cure for myotubular or centronuclear myopathies. Treatment often focuses on trying to maximize functional abilities and minimize medical complications, and involvement by physicians specializing in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation, and by physical therapists and occupational therapists.

Medical management generally involves efforts to prevent pulmonary complications, since lung infections can be fatal in patients lacking the muscle strength necessary to clear secretions via coughing. Medical devices to assist with coughing help patients maintain clear airways, avoiding mucous plugs and avoiding the need for tracheostomy tubes.

Monitoring for scoliosis is also important, since weakness of the trunk muscles can lead to deviations in spinal alignment, with resultant compromise of respiratory function. Many patients with congenital myopathies may eventually require surgical treatment of scoliosis.