Centronuclear myopathy

Last updated
Centronuclear myopathy
Other namesCNM
Centronuclear myotubular myopathy.JPEG
Muscle biopsy from the quadriceps taken at 3 months of age from a girl with X-linked centronuclear ("myotubular") myopathy due to a mutation in the myotubularin (MTM1) gene and extremely skewed X-inactivation (H&E stain, transverse section). Note marked variability in fibre size, moderate increase in connective tissue and numerous central nuclei.
Specialty Neurology   OOjs UI icon edit-ltr-progressive.svg

Centronuclear myopathies (CNM) are a group of congenital myopathies where cell nuclei are abnormally located in the center of muscle cells instead of their normal location at the periphery.


Symptoms of CNM 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 MTM/CNM are 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). Involvement of the facial muscles may cause ophthalmoplegia or ptosis. A mutation in the RYR1 gene causing CNM may also cause susceptibility to malignant hyperthermia, a potentially life-threatening reaction to anesthesia. [1] 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 had cardiac arrest, possibly due to the additional stress placed on the heart. [2]

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.[ citation needed ]

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). [3]

Centronuclear myopathies typically have a milder presentation and a better prognosis. Autosomal dominant CNM tends to have a less severe phenotype than the autosomal recessive version. [4] 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. [5] 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. [6]


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. [7] 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. [8]

Centronuclear myopathies 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"). [9]

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.[ citation needed ]

The possible combinations of inheritance of myotubular myopathy are as follows:

Inheritance OMIM Gene(s)Description
X-linked recessive 310400 MTM1 (X-linked myotubular myopathy)The X-linked form of MTM/CNM is the most commonly diagnosed type. Almost all cases of X-linked MTM occurs in males.
Autosomal recessive 255200 BIN1, RYR1, TTN A "recessive" abnormality will only cause disease if both copies of the gene are abnormal.
Autosomal dominant 160150 DNM2 (MYF6 and MTMR14 less common)A "dominant" abnormality will exert its abnormal influence (e.g., causing a disease or medical condition) regardless of whether the other copy of the gene is normal or not. Within centronuclear myopathies, researchers have identified an autosomal dominant form at a gene called dynamin 2 (DNM2) on chromosome 19, and this particular condition is now referred to as dynamin 2 centronuclear myopathy (DNM2-CNM).

Sporadic cases have also been reported where there is no previous family history (these cases are presumably due to a new mutation that was not present in either parent).


On examination of muscle biopsy material, the nuclear material is located predominantly in the center of the muscle cells, and is described as having any "myotubular" or "centronuclear" appearance. In terms of describing the muscle biopsy itself, "myotubular" or "centronuclear" are almost synonymous, and both terms point to the similar cellular-appearance among MTM and CNM. Thus, pathologists and treating physicians use those terms almost interchangeably, although researchers and clinicians are increasingly distinguishing between those phrases.[ citation needed ]

In general, a clinical myopathy and a muscle biopsy showing a centronuclear (nucleus in the center of the muscle cell) appearance would indicate a centronuclear myopathy (CNM). The most commonly diagnosed CNM is myotubular myopathy (MTM). However, muscle biopsy analysis alone cannot reliably distinguish myotubular myopathy from other forms of centronuclear myopathies, and thus genetic testing is required.Diagnostic workup is often coordinated by a treating neurologist. In the United States, care is often coordinated through clinics affiliated with the Muscular Dystrophy Association.[ citation needed ]


Electrodiagnostic testing

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[ citation needed ].

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.[ citation needed ] 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.[ citation needed ]


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.[ citation needed ]

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.[ citation needed ]

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.[ citation needed ]


The overall incidence of myotubular myopathy is 1 in 50,000 male live births. [8] The incidence of other centronuclear myopathies is extremely rare, with there only being nineteen families identified with CNM throughout the world. The symptoms currently range from the majority who only need to walk with aids, from a stick to a walking frame, to total dependence on physical mobility aids such as wheelchairs and stand aids, but this latter variety is so rare that only two cases are known to the CNM "community". Approximately 80% of males with a diagnosis of myotubular myopathy by muscle biopsy will have a mutation in MTM1 identifiable by genetic sequence analysis. [8]

Many patients with myotubular myopathy die in infancy prior to receiving a formal diagnosis. When possible, muscle biopsy and genetic testing may still be helpful even after a neonatal death, since the diagnostic information can assist with family planning and genetic counseling as well as aiding in the accurate diagnosis of any relatives who might also have the same genetic abnormality.[ citation needed ]


In 1966, Dr. Spiro (a New York City neurologist) published a medical report of a boy with myopathy, which upon muscle biopsy, showed that the nuclei of the muscle cells were located in the center of the muscle cells, instead of their normal location of the periphery. [10] The nuclear appearance reminded him of the nucleus-in-the-center appearance during the "myotubular" stage of embryonic development. Thus, he coined the term "myotubular myopathy". Spiro speculated that the embryonic muscle development he had seen in the boy was due to growth arrest during the myotubular phase, causing the myopathy.[ citation needed ]

More than three decades later, it is not fully understood whether this theory regarding halted (or delayed) embryonic muscle development is correct. Some research suggests that this theory may be acceptable for infant-onset myotubular myopathy (mutations at the MTM1 gene on the X chromosome) but may not be acceptable for the autosomal forms of centronuclear myopathy, [11] while other research suggests that the growth arrest mechanism may be responsible for all forms of MTM and CNM. [12] Regardless of whether the myopathy is caused by arrest at the "myotubular" stage, for historical reasons the name myotubular myopathy persists and is widely accepted. [13]

As a reference to the term myotubular myopathy (MTM), when a genetic abnormality on the X chromosome was determined to be involved in a substantial percentage of individuals with the myotubular/centronuclear appearance on muscle biopsy, researchers named the gene segment MTM1. Similarly, the protein typically produced by that gene is called "myotubularin".[ citation needed ]


There are several global advocacy groups working closely to educate newly affected families on care guidelines. The Joshua Frase Foundation is a comprehensive resource for care guidelines for Centronuclear myopathies. In the United States, children with congenital myopathies often receive therapy services through Early Intervention Programs (EIP, providing services from birth to 3 years old) administered by the state of residence. After the child is 3 years old, Special Education services are provided under the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA, with myopathies being eligible when classified under conditions causing muscular weakness). IDEA is meant to protect the rights of every disabled student to receive a free and appropriate public education (FAPE) in the least restrictive environment (ideally meaning integrated with non-disabled classmates).[ citation needed ]

Centronuclear myopathies involve pathology at the skeletal muscles, generally without brain involvement or cognitive deficits. Even so, the motor deficits (weakness and associated impairments) may impede in individual's ability to access the educational curriculum (e.g., difficulties lifting or carrying books, difficulties grasping a writing instrument, endurance difficulties throughout the school day, etc.). Further, recurrent respiratory infections may result in missed school days.[ citation needed ]


Although all forms of centronuclear myopathy are considered rare, the most commonly known form of CNM is Myotubular Myopathy (MTM). (The terms "centronuclear myopathy" and "myotubular myopathy" are sometimes equated.) [14]

Literally, a myopathy is a disease of the muscle tissue itself. Myo derives from the word muscle and pathos means disease. There are dozens of different myopathies, and myopathies are not the only conditions that can cause muscle weakness. Other diseases can cause weakness such as medical conditions affecting sites outside of the muscle itself, including problems in the brain (such as stroke, cerebral palsy, multiple sclerosis), or problems in the spinal cord and/or nerve (such as polio and spinal muscular atrophy).[ citation needed ]

Related Research Articles

Hypotonia is a state of low muscle tone, often involving reduced muscle strength. Hypotonia is not a specific medical disorder, but a potential manifestation of many different diseases and disorders that affect motor nerve control by the brain or muscle strength. Hypotonia is a lack of resistance to passive movement, whereas muscle weakness results in impaired active movement. Central hypotonia originates from the central nervous system, while peripheral hypotonia is related to problems within the spinal cord, peripheral nerves and/or skeletal muscles. Severe hypotonia in infancy is commonly known as floppy baby syndrome. Recognizing hypotonia, even in early infancy, is usually relatively straightforward, but diagnosing the underlying cause can be difficult and often unsuccessful. The long-term effects of hypotonia on a child's development and later life depend primarily on the severity of the muscle weakness and the nature of the cause. Some disorders have a specific treatment but the principal treatment for most hypotonia of idiopathic or neurologic cause is physical therapy and/or occupational therapy for remediation.

Congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis Medical condition

Congenital insensitivity to pain with anhidrosis (CIPA) is a rare autosomal recessive disorder of the nervous system which prevents the feeling of pain or temperature, and prevents a person from sweating. Cognitive disorders are commonly coincident. CIPA is the fourth type of hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy (HSAN), and is also known as HSAN IV.

Muscle biopsy Procedure in which a piece of muscle tissue is removed from an organism and examined microscopically

In medicine, a muscle biopsy is a procedure in which a piece of muscle tissue is removed from an organism and examined microscopically. A muscle biopsy can lead to the discovery of problems with the nervous system, connective tissue, vascular system, or musculoskeletal system.

In medicine, myopathy is a disease of the muscle in which the muscle fibers do not function properly. This results in muscular weakness. Myopathy means muscle disease. This meaning implies that the primary defect is within the muscle, as opposed to the nerves or elsewhere. Muscle cramps, stiffness, and spasm can also be associated with myopathy.

Nemaline myopathy is a congenital, often hereditary neuromuscular disorder with many symptoms that can occur such as muscle weakness, hypoventilation, swallowing dysfunction, and impaired speech ability. The severity of these symptoms varies and can change throughout one's life to some extent. The prevalence is estimated at 1 in 50,000 live births. It is the most common non-dystrophic myopathy.

Hereditary inclusion body myopathies (HIBM) are a group of rare genetic disorders which have different symptoms. Generally, they are neuromuscular disorders characterized by muscle weakness developing in young adults. Hereditary inclusion body myopathies comprise both autosomal recessive and autosomal dominant muscle disorders that have a variable expression (phenotype) in individuals, but all share similar structural features in the muscles.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Congenital muscular dystrophy</span> Medical condition

Congenital muscular dystrophies are autosomal recessively-inherited muscle diseases. They are a group of heterogeneous disorders characterized by muscle weakness which is present at birth and the different changes on muscle biopsy that ranges from myopathic to overtly dystrophic due to the age at which the biopsy takes place.

Distal myopathy Medical condition

Distal myopathy is a group of rare genetic disorders that cause muscle damage and weakness, predominantly in the hands and/or feet. Mutation of many different genes can be causative. Many types involve dysferlin.

Congenital myopathy is a very broad term for any muscle disorder present at birth. This defect primarily affects skeletal muscle fibres and causes muscular weakness and/or hypotonia. Congenital myopathies account for one of the top neuromuscular disorders in the world today, comprising approximately 6 in 100,000 live births every year. As a whole, congenital myopathies can be broadly classified as follows:

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Myotubularin 1</span> Protein-coding gene in the species Homo sapiens

Myotubularin is a protein that in humans is encoded by the MTM1 gene.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Hereditary motor and sensory neuropathy</span> Medical condition

Hereditary motor and sensory neuropathies (HMSN) is a name sometimes given to a group of different neuropathies which are all characterized by their impact upon both afferent and efferent neural communication. HMSN are characterised by atypical neural development and degradation of neural tissue. The two common forms of HMSN are either hypertrophic demyelinated nerves or complete atrophy of neural tissue. Hypertrophic condition causes neural stiffness and a demyelination of nerves in the peripheral nervous system, and atrophy causes the breakdown of axons and neural cell bodies. In these disorders, a patient experiences progressive muscle atrophy and sensory neuropathy of the extremities.

Hereditary sensory and autonomic neuropathy (HSAN) or hereditary sensory neuropathy (HSN) is a condition used to describe any of the types of this disease which inhibit sensation.

Marinesco–Sjögren syndrome (MSS), sometimes spelled Marinescu–Sjögren syndrome, is a rare autosomal recessive disorder.

X-linked myotubular myopathy Medical condition

X-linked myotubular myopathy (MTM) is a form of centronuclear myopathy (CNM) associated with myotubularin 1.

Multi/minicore myopathy is a congenital myopathy usually caused by mutations in either the SEPN1 and RYR1 genes. It is characterised the presence of multifocal, well-circumscribed areas with reduction of oxidative staining and low myofibrillar ATPase on muscle biopsy. It is also known as Minicore myopathy, Multicore myopathy, Multiminicore myopathy, Minicore myopathy with external ophthalmoplegia, Multicore myopathy with external ophthalmoplegia and Multiminicore disease with external ophthalmoplegia.

Congenital distal spinal muscular atrophy Hereditary condition characterized by muscle wasting

Congenital distal spinal muscular atrophy is a hereditary condition characterized by muscle wasting (atrophy), particularly of distal muscles in legs and hands, and by early-onset contractures of the hip, knee, and ankle. Affected individuals often have shorter lower limbs relative to the trunk and upper limbs. The condition is a result of a loss of anterior horn cells localized to lumbar and cervical regions of the spinal cord early in infancy, which in turn is caused by a mutation of the TRPV4 gene. The disorder is inherited in an autosomal dominant manner. Arm muscle and function, as well as cardiac and respiratory functions are typically well preserved.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Jean-Louis Mandel</span>

Jean-Louis Mandel, born in Strasbourg on February 12, 1946, is a French medical doctor and geneticist, and heads a research team at the Institute of Genetics and Molecular and Cellular Biology (IGBMC). He has been in charge of the genetic diagnosis laboratory at the University Hospitals of Strasbourg since 1992, as well as a professor at the Collège de France since 2003.

Autophagic vacuolar myopathy (AVM) consists of multiple rare genetic disorders with common histological and pathological features on muscle biopsy. The features highlighted are vacuolar membranes of the autophagic vacuoles having sarcolemmal characteristics and an excess of autophagic vacuoles. There are currently five types of AVM identified. The signs and symptoms become more severe over the course of the disease. It begins with an inability to pick up small objects and progresses to difficulty in walking. The age of onset varies from early childhood to late adulthood, affecting people of all ages.

<span class="mw-page-title-main">Autosomal recessive axonal neuropathy with neuromyotonia</span> Medical condition

Autosomal recessive axonal neuropathy with neuromyotonia, also known as Gamstorp-Wohlfart syndrome, is a rare hereditary disorder which is characterized by progressive poly-neuropathy, neuromyotonia, myokymia, pseudo-myotonia, hand-foot contractures, and abnormal neuro-myotonic/myokimic activity visible on needle EMG. According to OMIM, around 52 cases have been reported in medical literature However; new cases have been reported since 2014.

Belinda S. Cowling is a French medical researcher and cofounder and scientific advisor of the biotech firm Dynacure, which was founded in 2016. She became Head of Research in 2018, responsible for the company’s R&D strategy, and leading Dynacure’s research programs in centronuclear myopathy (CNM) and other disease domains. As Dynacure's Chief Scientific Officer, her focus is on translational research and drug-candidate development. In 2019, she was awarded the Irène Joliot-Curie Prize in the category: Women, Research and Enterprise.


  1. Jungbluth, Heinz; Wallgren-Pettersson, Carina; Laporte, Jocelyn (2008-09-25). "Centronuclear (myotubular) myopathy". Orphanet Journal of Rare Diseases. 3 (1): 26. doi:10.1186/1750-1172-3-26. ISSN   1750-1172. PMC   2572588 . PMID   18817572.
  2. Al-Ruwaishid A, Vajsar J, Tein I, Benson L, Jay (2013). "Centronuclear myopathy and cardiomyopathy requiring heart transplant". Brain Dev.
  3. Laporte J, Biancalana V, Tanner S, Kress W, Schneider V, Wallgren-Pettersson C, Herger F, Buj-Bello A, Blondeau F, Liechti-Gallati S, Mandel J (2000). "MTM1 mutations in X-linked myotubular myopathy". Hum Mutat. 15 (5): 393–409. doi:10.1002/(SICI)1098-1004(200005)15:5<393::AID-HUMU1>3.0.CO;2-R. PMID   10790201. S2CID   27091541.
  4. "OMIM Entry- # 255200 - MYOPATHY, CENTRONUCLEAR, 2; CNM2". www.omim.org. Retrieved 2022-01-09.
  5. Bitoun M, Maugenre S, Jeannet P, Lacène E, Ferrer X, Laforêt P, Martin J, Laporte J, Lochmüller H, Beggs A, Fardeau M, Eymard B, Romero N, Guicheney P (2005). "Mutations in dynamin 2 cause dominant centronuclear myopathy" (PDF). Nat Genet. 37 (11): 1207–1209. doi:10.1038/ng1657. PMID   16227997. S2CID   37842933.
  6. Dirk Fischer; Muriel Herasse; Marc Bitoun; Héctor M. Barragán-Campos; Jacques Chiras; Pascal Laforêt; Michel Fardeau; Bruno Eymard; Pascale Guicheney; Norma B. Romero (2006). "Characterization of the muscle involvement in dynamin 2-related centronuclear myopathy". Brain.
  7. Lehesjoki A, Sankila E, Miao J, Somer M, Salonen R, Rapola J, de la Chapelle A (1990). "X linked neonatal myotubular myopathy: one recombination detected with four polymorphic DNA markers from Xq28". J Med Genet. 27 (5): 288–91. doi:10.1136/jmg.27.5.288. PMC   1017077 . PMID   1972196.
  8. 1 2 3 MTM1 analysis for Myotubular Myopathy Archived September 4, 2006, at the Wayback Machine The University of Chicago Genetic Services.
  9. Jungbluth H, Wallgren-Pettersson C, Laporte J (2008). "Centronuclear (myotubular) myopathy". Orphanet J Rare Dis. 3: 26. doi:10.1186/1750-1172-3-26. PMC   2572588 . PMID   18817572.
  10. Spiro A, Shy G, Gonatas N (1966). "Myotubular myopathy. Persistence of fetal muscle in an adolescent boy". Arch Neurol. 14 (1): 1–14. doi:10.1001/archneur.1966.00470070005001. PMID   4954227.
  11. Myotubular Myopathy, Autosomal Dominant Online Mendelian Inheritance in Man, OMIM. Johns Hopkins University, Baltimore, MD.
  12. Manta P, Mamali I, Zambelis T, Aquaviva T, Kararizou E, Kalfakis N (2006). "Immunocytochemical study of cytoskeletal proteins in centronuclear myopathies". Acta Histochem. 108 (4): 271–6. doi:10.1016/j.acthis.2006.05.004. PMID   16893562.
  13. Pierson C, Tomczak K, Agrawal P, Moghadaszadeh B, Beggs A (2005). "X-linked myotubular and centronuclear myopathies". J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 64 (7): 555–64. doi: 10.1097/01.jnen.0000171653.17213.2e . PMID   16042307.
  14. " centronuclear myopathy " at Dorland's Medical Dictionary