BACKGROUND: Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is an inherited neuromuscular disorder associated with spinal motor neuron loss and characterized by generalized muscle weakness. Only a few reports exist on SMA epidemiology in Japan. Additionally, nusinersen recently became available as a treatment for this condition. We estimated the prevalence of each type of SMA on Shikoku, Japan's fourth-largest major island.
METHODS: We sent a questionnaire to all 131 hospitals in Shikoku that have pediatrics or neurology departments from March to September 2019, asking whether each hospital had SMA patients at that time. If so, we sent a second questionnaire to obtain more detailed information on the clinical data and treatment of each patient.
RESULTS: A total of 117 hospitals (89.3%) responded to our first questionnaire, and 21 SMA patients were reported, 16 of whom had homozygous deletion of SMN1. Of the 21, nine had SMA type 1, five were type 2, five were type 3, one was type 4, and one was unidentified. The estimated prevalence for all instances of SMA and 5q-SMA was 0.56 and 0.43 per 100,000 people, respectively. Thirteen patients had received nusinersen therapy. Its outcomes varied from no obvious effects and being unable to sit to being able to sit independently.
CONCLUSION: Our data showed the prevalence of SMA types 2 and 3 was relatively low on Shikoku compared with previous reports from other countries, suggesting delayed diagnosis may affect the results. Remaining motor function may be one predicting factor. Greater awareness of SMA among clinicians and patients seems necessary for more accurate epidemiological studies.
Keywords: Epidemiology Japan Nusinersen Prevalence Spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) Twins