The spectrum of hereditary neuromuscular disorders in the Pakistani population

Fizza Akbar, Shafaq Muhammad Saleem, Ehtesham Khalid, Shahnaz Ibrahim, Bushra Afroze, Salman Kirmani, Sara Khan

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Hereditary neuromuscular disorders (NMDs) are a broad group of clinically heterogeneous disorders with varying inheritance patterns, that are associated with over 500 implicated genes. In the context of a highly consanguineous Pakistani population, we expect that autosomal recessive NMDs may have a higher prevalence compared with patients of European descent. This is the first study to offer a detailed description of the spectrum of genes causing hereditary NMDs in the Pakistani population using NGS testing. To study the clinical and genetic profiles of patients presenting for evaluation of a hereditary neuromuscular disorder. This is a retrospective chart review of patients seen in the Neuromuscular Disorders Clinic and referred to the Genetics Clinic with a suspected hereditary neuromuscular disorder, between 2016 and 2020 at the Aga Khan University Hospital, Karachi and Mukhtiar A. Sheikh Hospital, Multan, Pakistan. The genetic testing for these patients included NGS-based single gene sequencing, NGS-based multi-gene panel and whole exome sequencing. In a total of 112 patients studied, 35 (31.3%) were female. The mean age of onset in all patients was 14.6 years (SD ±12.1 years), with the average age at presentation to the clinic of 22.4 years (SD ±14.10 years). Forty-seven (41.9%) patients had a positive genetic test result, 53 (47.3%) had one or more variants of uncertain significance (VUS), and 12 (10.7%) had a negative result. Upon further genotype–phenotype correlation and family segregation analysis, the diagnostic yield improved, with 59 (52.7%) patients reaching a diagnosis of a hereditary NMD. We also report probable founder variants in COL6A2, FKTN, GNE, and SGCB, previously reported in populations that have possible shared ancestry with the Pakistani population. Our findings reemphasizes that the rate of VUSs can be reduced by clinical correlation and family segregation studies.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)2536-2550
Number of pages15
JournalAmerican Journal of Medical Genetics, Part A
Issue number10
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2023


  • Pakistan
  • genetics
  • hereditary neuromuscular disorders
  • neurology


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