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Department of Pediatrics

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Clinical Trials | Congenital, Hereditary, and Neonatal Diseases and Abnormalities | Musculoskeletal Diseases | Nervous System Diseases | Pediatrics | Therapeutics


The timed 4-stair climb (4SC) assessment has been used to measure function in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) practice and research. We sought to identify prognostic factors for changes in 4SC, assess their consistency across data sources, and the extent to which prognostic scores could be useful in DMD clinical trial design and analysis. Data from patients with DMD in the placebo arm of a phase 3 trial (Tadalafil DMD trial) and two real-world sources (Universitaire Ziekenhuizen, Leuven, Belgium [Leuven] and Cincinnati Children's Hospital Medical Center [CCHMC]) were analyzed. One-year changes in 4SC completion time and velocity (stairs/second) were analyzed. Prognostic models included age, height, weight, steroid use, and multiple timed function tests and were developed using multivariable regression, separately in each data source. Simulations were used to quantify impacts on trial sample size requirements. Data on 1-year changes in 4SC were available from the Tadalafil DMD trial (n = 92) Leuven (n = 67), and CCHMC (n = 212). Models incorporating multiple timed function tests, height, and weight significantly improved prognostic accuracy for 1-year change in 4SC (R2: 29%-36% for 4SC velocity, and 29%-34% for 4SC time) compared to models including only age, baseline 4SC and steroid duration (R2:8%-17% for 4SC velocity and 2%-13% for 4SC time). Measures of walking and rising ability contributed important prognostic information for changes in 4SC. In a randomized trial with equal allocation to treatment and placebo, adjustment for such a prognostic score would enable detection (at 80% power) of a treatment effect of 0.25 stairs/second with 100-120 patients, compared to 170-190 patients without prognostic score adjustment. Combining measures of ambulatory function doubled prognostic accuracy for 1-year changes in 4SC completion time and velocity. Randomized clinical trials incorporating a validated prognostic score could reduce sample size requirements by approximately 40%. Knowledge of important prognostic factors can also inform adjusted comparisons to external controls.


Walking, Duchenne muscular dystrophy, Steroids, Prognosis, Clinical trials, Phase III clinical investigation, Pediatrics, Drug research and development

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Copyright: © 2020 Goemans et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original author and source are credited.

DOI of Published Version



Goemans N, Wong B, Van den Hauwe M, Signorovitch J, Sajeev G, Cox D, Landry J, Jenkins M, Dieye I, Yao Z, Hossain I, Ward SJ; Collaborative Trajectory Analysis Project (cTAP). Prognostic factors for changes in the timed 4-stair climb in patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, and implications for measuring drug efficacy: A multi-institutional collaboration. PLoS One. 2020 Jun 18;15(6):e0232870. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0232870. PMID: 32555695; PMCID: PMC7302444. Link to article on publisher's site

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PloS one

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Creative Commons License

Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 License.