Assessment of Bulbar Function in Adult Patients with 5q-SMA Type 2 and 3 under Treatment with Nusinersen

The antisense oligonucleotide nusinersen has been shown to improve trunk and limb motor function in patients with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). Bulbar dysfunction, which is regularly present in SMA, is not captured by standard motor scores, and validated measurement instruments to assess it have not yet been established. Data on whether and how bulbar function changes under gene-based therapies in adult SMA patients are also unavailable. Here, we present data on the course of bulbar dysfunction assessed prospectively before nusinersen treatment initiation and 6 and 14 months later in 23 adult SMA patients using the Sydney Swallow Questionnaire (SSQ) and the bulbar subscore of the Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis Functional Rating Scale Revised (ALSFRS-R). While no improvement in bulbar scores was observed under treatment with nusinersen, the absence of a decline still implies a therapeutic effect of nusinersen on bulbar dysfunction. The results of this study aim to contribute to a standardized assessment of bulbar function in adult SMA patients, which may show therapeutic effects of gene-based therapies that are not evident from standard motor scores.


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