Jornal de Pediatria
Print version ISSN 0021-7557
BAIONI, Mariana T. C. and AMBIEL, Celia R.. Spinal muscular atrophy: diagnosis, treatment and future prospects. J. Pediatr. (Rio J.) [online]. 2010, vol.86, n.4, pp. 261-270. ISSN 0021-7557. http://dx.doi.org/10.1590/S0021-75572010000400004.
OBJECTIVE: To report on recent genetic and molecular discoveries and on future prospects for the treatment of spinal muscular atrophy (SMA), thereby helping healthcare professionals to make a quick diagnosis and provide appropriate and timely therapeutic support. SOURCES: Information was collected from scientific articles published in the last 2 decades, retrieved from the databases SciELO, PubMed, and MEDLINE. SUMMARY OF THE FINDINGS: SMA is a neurodegenerative disorder with autosomal recessive genetic heredity. It is caused by a homozygous deletion of the survival motor neuron (SMN1) gene. This genetic alteration results in reduced levels of the SMN protein, leading to degeneration of alpha motor neurons of the spinal cord and resulting in muscle weakness and progressive symmetrical proximal paralysis. It is known that basic nutritional and respiratory care and physiotherapy can be important to delaying disease progression and prolonging patients' lives. Several drugs are being tested, some new, others, such as valproic acid, already known; paralysis can be halted, but not reversed. CONCLUSIONS: SMA is a difficult to diagnose disorder, because it is little known, and treatment is uncertain. Pharmacological treatments and supportive therapies are not yet able to recover motor neurons or muscle cells that have already been lost, but are aimed at delaying disease progression and improving patients' residual muscle function, as well as offering better quality of life and life expectancy.
Keywords : Spinal muscular atrophy; motor neuron; therapy; SMN1 gene; SMN protein; valproic acid.