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Journal Review: Peripheral neuropathies associated with DNA repair disorders
Journal Review: Peripheral neuropathies associated with DNA repair disorders

Repair of genomic DNA is a fundamental housekeeping process that quietly maintains the health of our genomes. The consequences of a genetic defect affecting a component of this delicate mechanism are quite harmful, characterized by a cascade of premature aging that injures a variety of organs, including the nervous system. One part of the nervous system that is impaired in certain DNA repair disor-ders is the peripheral nerve. Chronic motor, sensory, and sensorimotor polyneuropa-thies have all been observed in affected individuals, with specific physiologies associated with different categories of DNA repair disorders. Cockayne syndrome has classically been linked to demyelinating polyneuropathies, whereas xeroderma pigmentosum has long been associated with axonal polyneuropathies. Three additional recessive DNA repair disorders are associated with neuropathies, including trichothiodystrophy, Werner syndrome, and ataxia-telangiectasia. Although plausible biological explanations exist for why the peripheral nerves are specifically vulnerable to impairments of DNA repair, specific mechanisms such as oxidative stress remain largely unexplored in this context, and bear further study. It is also unclear why different DNA repair disorders manifest with different types of neuropathy, and why neuropathy is not universally present in those diseases. Longitudinal physiological monitoring of these neuropathies with serial electrodiagnostic studies may provide valuable noninvasive outcome data in the context of future natural history studies, and thus the responses of these neuropathies may become sentinel outcome measures for future clinical trials of treatments currently in development such as adeno-associated virus gene replacement therapies.

1)Become familiar with several DNA repair and genome stability pathways so as to be able to understand the phenotypic consequences;
2) Recognize the neuropathies associated with 5 DNA repair disorders: xeroderma pigmentosum, trichothiodystophy, Cockayne syndrome, Werner syndrome, and ataxia telangiectasia;
3) develop and implement appropriate pharmacologic and non-pharmacologic interventions for individuals with these 5 DNA repair disorders.

The AANEM is accredited by the Accreditation Council for Continuing Medical Education (ACCME) to provide continuing medical education for physicians.

The AANEM designates this enduring material for a maximum of 1 AMA PRA Category 1 Credits TM.  Physicians should claim only the credit commensurate with the extent of their participation in the activity. Credit expires 2/1/2026.

The authors have no conflicts of interest. 

Melissa Maguina, MS; Peter B. Kang, MD; Ang-Chen Tsai, PhD; Christina A. Pacak, PhD
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Expires on Feb 01, 2026
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