The aim of this study was to establish the possible effect of age, corticosteroid treatment and brain dystrophin involvement on motor function in young boys affected by Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy who were assessed using the North Star Ambulatory Assessment between the age of 4 and 7 years. The study includes 951 North Star assessments from 226 patients. Patients were subdivided according to age, to the site of mutation and therefore to the involvement of different brain dystrophin isoforms and to corticosteroids duration. There was a difference in the maximum North Star score achieved among patients with different brain dystrophin isoforms (p = 0.007). Patients with the involvement of Dp427, Dp140 and Dp71, had lower maximum NSAA scores when compared to those with involvement of Dp427 and Dp140 or of Dp427 only. The difference in the age when the maximum score was achieved in the different subgroups did not reach statistical significance. Using a linear regression model on all assessments we found that each of the three variables, age, site of mutation and corticosteroid treatment had an influence on the NSAA values and their progression over time. A second analysis, looking at 12-month changes showed that within this time interval the magnitude of changes was related to corticosteroid treatment but not to site of mutation. Our findings suggest that each of the considered variables appear to play a role in the progression of North Star scores in patients between the age of 4 and 7 years and that these should be carefully considered in the trial design of boys in this age range.
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