Spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy, namely Kennedy disease, is a rare progressive neurodegenerative disorder caused by the expansion of a CAG repeat in the first exon of the androgen receptor gene on the X chromosome.
We assessed the clinical history, laboratory findings, functional scales, and electrophysiological data, as well as the levels of luteinizing hormone, follicle-stimulating hormone and testosterone, in 157 Korean patients with genetically confirmed spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy (mean age at data collection = 56.9 years; range = 33–83 years).
Hand tremor was the first symptom noticed by patients at a median age of 35 years, followed by gynecomastia, orofacial fasciculation, cramps, and fatigability in ascending order. Clinical symptoms such as paresthesia and dysphagia appeared during the later stages of the disease. Cane use during ambulation began at a median age of 62 years. There were statistically significant differences between patients and controls in the results of sensory nerve studies, motor conduction velocity, and distal latencies. Furthermore, among the hormone markers analyzed, the level of luteinizing hormone exhibited a negative correlation with the spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy functional rating scale, Korean version. However, among the patients with a disease duration of ≤5 years, the levels of luteinizing hormone showed a significant correlation with assessments using the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis functional rating scale-revised, spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy functional rating scale, Korean version and the 6-minute walk test. In conclusion, our findings provide clinical information from a substantial number of patients with spinal and bulbar muscular atrophy in Korea that accorded with that of patients with this disease worldwide but with updated clinical features.