As a group, the limb-girdle muscular dystrophies (LGMDs) are the fourth most prevalent genetic muscle disease, yet they are still not well known or understood. This article defines and describes LGMDs, delineates a diagnostic strategy, and discusses treatment of the LGMDs.
In 2018, the definition of the LGMDs was further refined, and a new nomenclature was proposed. Diagnosis of the LGMDs was long guided by the distinctive clinical characteristics of each particular subtype but now integrates use of genetics—with next-generation sequencing panels, exomes, and full genome analysis—early in the diagnostic assessment. Appreciation of the phenotypic diversity of each LGMD subtype continues to expand. This emphasizes the need for precision genetic diagnostics to better understand each subtype and formulate appropriate management for individual patients. Of significant relevance, the explosion of research into therapeutic options accentuates the need for accurate diagnosis, comprehensive disease characterization, and description of the natural histories of the LGMDs to move the field forward and to mitigate disease impact on patients with LGMD.
The LGMDs are genetic muscle diseases that superficially appear similar to one another but have important differences in rates of progression and concomitant comorbidities. Definitive diagnoses are crucial to guide management and treatment now and in the future. As targeted treatments emerge, it will be important for clinicians to understand the nomenclature, diagnosis, clinical manifestations, and treatments of the LGMDs.