Identifying simple biomarkers that can predict or track disease progression in patients with spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) remains an unmet clinical need. To test the hypothesis that serum creatinine (Crn) could be a prognostic biomarker for monitoring progression of denervation in patients with SMA, we determined whether serum Crn concentration correlates with disease severity in patients with SMA.
We examined a cohort of 238 patients with SMA with 1,130 Crn observations between 2000 and 2016. Analyses were corrected for age, and 156 patients with SMA had dual-energy x-ray absorptiometry data available for correction for lean mass. We investigated the relationship between Crn and SMA type, survival motor neuron 2 (SMN2) copies, and Hammersmith Functional Motor Scale (HFMS) score as primary outcomes. In addition, we tested for associations between Crn and maximum ulnar compound muscle action potential amplitude (CMAP) and motor unit number estimation (MUNE).
Patients with SMA type 3 had 2.2-fold (95% confidence interval [CI] 1.93–2.49; p < 0.0001) higher Crn levels compared to those with SMA type 1 and 1.7-fold (95% CI 1.52–1.82; p < 0.0001) higher Crn levels compared to patients with SMA type 2. Patients with SMA type 2 had 1.4-fold (95% CI 1.31–1.58; p < 0.0001) higher Crn levels than patients with SMA type 1. Patients with SMA with 4 SMN2 copies had 1.8-fold (95% CI 1.57–2.11; p < 0.0001) higher Crn levels compared to patients with SMA with 2 SMN2 copies and 1.4-fold (95% CI 1.24–1.58; p < 0.0001) higher Crn levels compared to patients with SMA with 3 SMN2 copies. Patients with SMA with 3 SMN2 copies had 1.4-fold (95% CI 1.21–1.56; p < 0.0001) higher Crn levels than patients with SMA with 2 SMN2 copies. Mixed-effect model revealed significant differences in Crn levels among walkers, sitters, and nonsitters (p < 0.0001) and positive associations between Crn and maximum CMAP (p < 0.0001) and between Crn and MUNE (p < 0.0001). After correction for lean mass, there were still significant associations between Crn and SMA type, SMN2 copies, HFMS, CMAP, and MUNE.
These findings indicate that decreased Crn levels reflect disease severity, suggesting that Crn is a candidate biomarker for SMA progression. We conclude that Crn measurements should be included in the routine analysis of all patients with SMA. In future studies, it will be important to determine whether Crn levels respond to molecular and gene therapies.