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1.  Genomic determinants of motor and cognitive outcomes in Parkinson’s disease 
Parkinsonism & related disorders  2012;18(7):881-886.
Little is known regarding genetic factors associated with motor or cognitive outcomes in Parkinson’s disease (PD).
To identify common genetic variants associated with motor and cognitive outcomes in PD.
The sample consisted of 443 PD cases included in the first genome-wide association study (GWAS) of PD. Methods included telephone interview assessments of motor and cognitive outcomes, a median 9 years following the initial clinical assessments. Analyses included Cox proportional hazard models to study the association of 198,345 single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with survival free of Hoehn-Yahr Stage ≥4 (motor outcome), and either TICS-M ≤27 or AD-8 ≥2 (cognitive outcomes).
The SNP rs10958605 in the C8orf4 gene had the smallest p-value in analyses of the motor outcome (HR = 1.81; 95% CI = 1.42 – 2.31; p = 1.51 × 10−6). The SNP rs6482992 in the CLRN3 gene had the smallest p-value in analyses of the cognitive outcome (HR = 2.03, 95% CI 1.47–2.79, p = 4.08 × 10−6). However, no SNP associations were significant after Bonferroni correction. The C8orf4 gene had small p-values for both motor and cognitive outcomes, highlighting inflammation as a possible pathogenesis mechanism for progression in PD.
This study suggests that common variants in several genes may be associated with motor and cognitive outcomes in PD, with biological plausibility.
PMCID: PMC3606821  PMID: 22658654
Genome wide association studies; Parkinson’s disease; outcomes
2.  Rationale for Therapeutic Silencing of Alpha-Synuclein in Parkinson’s Disease 
The purpose of this paper is to provide the rationale for therapeutic silencing of the alpha-synuclein gene (SNCA) in Parkinson’s disease (PD). The paper reviews the public health significance of PD; the causal links between rare SNCA variants and familial PD; the association of common SNCA variants and PD susceptibility; the association of SNCA variants also with age at onset and motor and cognitive outcomes in PD; therapeutic strategies targeting SNCA in PD; and preliminary findings and considerations on small interfering RNA-based therapies and PD.
PMCID: PMC4027709  PMID: 24868385
Parkinson’s disease; Alpha-synuclein; RNA-based therapies
3.  α-synuclein, alcohol use disorders, and Parkinson disease: a case-control study 
Parkinsonism & related disorders  2009;15(6):430-434.
Collaborative pooled analyses demonstrated that allele length variability of the dinucleotide repeat sequence within the alpha-synuclein gene promoter (SNCA REP1) is associated with Parkinson disease (PD) worldwide. Other studies demonstrated that variability in the SNCA promoter is also associated with alcohol use disorders, but not consistently. Yet other studies demonstrated that alcohol use disorders are inversely associated with PD, but not consistently. The aim of this study was to clarify the patterns of association between REP1 genotype, alcohol use disorders, and PD. Cases were recruited from the Department of Neurology of the Mayo Clinic in Rochester, MN. The controls included unaffected siblings and unrelated controls. We assessed alcohol use via a structured telephone interview and screened for alcohol use disorders using the CAGE questionnaire. REP1 genotyping was performed using an ABI 3730XL platform. Odds ratios (ORs) and 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were determined using conditional logistic regression models. We recruited 893 case-control pairs. There was an increasing risk of PD with increasing SNCA REP1 allele length (OR 1.18 for each REP1 genotype score unit, 95% CI 1.02 to 1.35; p = 0.02). There was a decreasing risk of PD with increasing CAGE score (p = 0.01). The association of REP1 score with PD remained significant after adjusting for CAGE score, and the association of CAGE score with PD remained significant after adjusting for REP1 score. There were no pairwise interactions. Our findings suggest that SNCA REP1 genotype and alcohol use disorders are independently associated with PD.
PMCID: PMC3057130  PMID: 19196539
alpha-synuclein; alcohol use disorders; Parkinson disease
4.  The protective effect of LRRK2 p.R1398H on risk of Parkinson’s disease is independent of MAPT and SNCA variants 
Neurobiology of aging  2013;35(1):10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2013.07.013.
The best validated susceptibility variants for Parkinson’s disease (PD) are located in the alpha-synuclein (SNCA) and microtubule-associated protein tau (MAPT) genes. Recently, a protective p.N551K-R1398H-K1423K haplotype in the leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) gene was identified, with p.R1398H appearing to be the most likely functional variant. To date, the consistency of the protective effect of LRRK2 p.R1398H across MAPT and SNCA variant genotypes has not been assessed. To address this, we examined four SNCA variants (rs181489, rs356219, rs11931074, rs2583988), the MAPT H1-haplotype defining variant rs1052553, and LRRK2 p.R1398H (rs7133914) in Caucasian (N=10,322) and Asian (N=2,289) series. There was no evidence of an interaction of LRRK2 p.R1398H with MAPT or SNCA variants (all P≥0.10); the protective effect of p.R1398H was observed at similar magnitude across MAPT and SNCA genotypes, and the risk effects of MAPT and SNCA variants were observed consistently for LRRK2 p.R1398H genotypes. Our results indicate that the association of LRRK2 p.R1398H with PD is independent of SNCA and MAPT variants, and vice versa, in Caucasian and Asian populations.
PMCID: PMC3829604  PMID: 23962496
Parkinson disease; LRRK2; SNCA; MAPT; interaction; genetics
6.  Population-specific frequencies for LRRK2 susceptibility variants in the Genetic Epidemiology Of Parkinson’s Disease (GEO-PD) consortium 
Variants within the leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 gene are recognized as the most frequent genetic cause of Parkinson’s disease. Leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 variation related to susceptibility to disease displays many features that reflect the nature of complex late-onset sporadic disorders, such as Parkinson’s disease. The Genetic Epidemiology of Parkinson’s disease consortium recently performed the largest genetic association study for variants in the leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 gene across 23 different sites in 15 countries. Herein we detail the allele frequencies for the novel risk factors (p.A419V and p.M1646T) and the protective haplotype (p.N551K-R1398H-K1423K) reported in the original publication. Simple population allele frequencies can not only provide an insight into the clinical relevance of specific variants but also help genetically define patient groups. Establishing individual patient-based genomic susceptibility profiles incorporating both risk and protective factors will determine future diagnostic and treatment strategies.
PMCID: PMC4108155  PMID: 23913756
Parkinson disease; LRRK2; genetics; association study
7.  Prospective Differentiation of Multiple System Atrophy from Parkinson’s Disease, with and without Autonomic Failure 
Archives of neurology  2009;66(6):742-750.
The severity, distribution, and pattern of autonomic failure appear to be different in multiple system atrophy (MSA) compared with Parkinson’s disease (PD), but reports have been retrospective reviews and have tended to exclude PD with autonomic failure (PD_AF). We report preliminary results of a prospective ongoing study of MSA and PD, with a large subset of PD_AF (25%) to evaluate autonomic indices that distinguish MSA from PD.
We used Consensus criteria, detailed autonomic studies (composite autonomic symptom score (COMPASS), composite autonomic severity score (CASS), thermoregulatory sweat test percent anhidrosis (TST%), plasma catecholamines, and functional scales (Unified MSA rating scale (UMSARS) I–IV, Hoehn-Yahr grading) on a prospective, repeated, and ongoing basis.
We report the results of a study based on 52 patients with MSA (61.1±7.8 years; BMI 27.2±4.6; Hoehn-Yahr grade, 3.2±0.9; UMSARS_1 21.5±7.4; UMSARS_2, 22.7±9.0) and 29 patients with PD, including PD_AF (66.0±8.1 years; BMI 26.6±.5.5; Hoehn-Yahr grade, 2.2±0.8; UMSARS_1 10.4±6.1; UMSARS_2, 13.0±5.9). Autonomic indices were highly significantly more abnormal in MSA than PD (P<0.001) for each of: CASS (5.9±1.9 vs. 3.3±2.3), COMPASS (54.4±21.8 vs. 24.7±20.5), TST% (57.4±35.2 vs. 9.9±17.7). These differences were sustained and greater at 1 year follow-up indicating a greater rate of progression of dysautonomia in MSA than PD.
The severity, distribution, and pattern of autonomic deficits at entry will distinguish MSA from PD and MSA from PD_AF. These differences continue and increase with follow-up. Our ongoing conclusion is that autonomic function tests can separate MSA from PD. Autonomic indices support the notion that the primary lesion in PD is ganglionic/postganglionic while MSA is preganglionic.
PMCID: PMC2838493  PMID: 19506134
8.  Genomic investigation of α-Synuclein multiplication and parkinsonism 
Annals of neurology  2008;63(6):10.1002/ana.21380.
Copy number variation is a common polymorphic phenomenon within the human genome. While the majority of these events are non-deleterious they can also be highly pathogenic. Herein we characterize five families with parkinsonism that have been identified to harbor multiplication of the chromosomal 4q21 locus containing the α-synuclein gene (SNCA).
A methodological approach employing fluorescent in situ hybridization (FISH) and Affymetrix 250K SNP microarrays (CHIPs) was used to characterize the multiplication in each family and identify the genes encoded within the region. The telomeric and centromeric breakpoints of each family were further narrowed using semi-quantitative PCR with microsatellite markers and then screened for transposable repeat elements.
The severity of clinical presentation is correlated with SNCA dosage and does not appear to be overtly effected by the presence of other genes in the multiplicated region. With the exception of the Lister kindred, in each family the multiplication event appears de novo. The type and position of Alu/LINE repeats are also different at each breakpoint. Microsatellite analysis demonstrates two genomic mechanisms are responsible for chromosome 4q21 multiplications, including both SNCA duplication and triplication.
SNCA dosage is responsible for parkinsonism, autonomic dysfunction and dementia observed within each family. We hypothesize dysregulated expression of wild-type α-synuclein results in parkinsonism and may explain the recent association of common SNCA variants in sporadic Parkinson’s disease. SNCA genomic duplication results from intra-allelic (segmental duplication) or inter-allelic recombination with unequal crossing-over, whereas both mechanisms appear to be required for genomic SNCA triplication.
PMCID: PMC3850281  PMID: 18571778
Parkinsonism; SNCA; Genomic multiplication; Alu repeat; Parkinson’s disease
9.  Mutations in CIZ1 cause adult-onset primary cervical dystonia 
Annals of Neurology  2012;71(4):458-469.
Primary dystonia is usually of adult onset, can be familial, and frequently involves the cervical musculature. Our goal was to identify the causal mutation in a family with adult-onset, primary cervical dystonia.
Linkage and haplotype analyses were combined with solution-based whole-exome capture and massively parallel sequencing in a large Caucasian pedigree with adult-onset, primary cervical dystonia to identify a cosegregating mutation. High-throughput screening and Sanger sequencing were completed in 308 Caucasians with familial or sporadic adult-onset cervical dystonia and matching controls for sequence variants in this mutant gene.
Exome sequencing led to the identification of an exonic splicing enhancer mutation in Exon 7 of CIZ1 (c.790A>G, p.S264G) which encodes CIZ1, Cip1-interacting zinc finger protein 1. CIZ1 is a p21Cip1/Waf1-interacting zinc finger protein expressed in brain and involved in DNA synthesis and cell-cycle control. Using a minigene assay, we showed that c.790A>G altered CIZ1 splicing patterns. The p.S264G mutation also altered the nuclear localization of CIZ1. Screening in subjects with adult-onset cervical dystonia identified two additional CIZ1 missense mutations (p.P47S and p.R672M).
Mutations in CIZ1 may cause adult-onset, primary cervical dystonia, possibly by precipitating neurodevelopmental abnormalities that manifest in adults and/or G1/S cell-cycle dysregulation in the mature central nervous system.
PMCID: PMC3334472  PMID: 22447717
10.  Common Variants in PARK Loci and Related Genes and Parkinson’s Disease 
Rare mutations in PARK loci genes cause Parkinson’s disease (PD) in some families and isolated populations. We investigated the association of common variants in PARK loci and related genes with PD susceptibility and age at onset in an outbred population. 1,103 PD cases from the upper Midwest, USA were individually matched to unaffected siblings (n = 654) or unrelated controls (n = 449) from the same region. Using a sequencing approach in 25 cases and 25 controls, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in species-conserved regions of PARK loci and related genes were detected. We selected additional tag SNPs from the HapMap. We genotyped a total of 235 SNPs and two variable number tandem repeats (VNTRs) in the ATP13A2, DJ1, LRRK1, LRRK2, MAPT, Omi/HtrA2, PARK2, PINK1, SNCA, SNCB, SNCG, SPR, and UCHL1 genes in all 2,206 subjects. Case-control analyses were performed to study association with PD susceptibility, while cases-only analyses were used to study association with age at onset. Only MAPT SNP rs2435200 was associated with PD susceptibility after correction for multiple testing (OR = 0.74, 95% CI = 0.64 – 0.86, uncorrected P < 0.0001, log additive model); however, 16 additional MAPT variants, seven SNCA variants, and one LRRK2, PARK2, and UCHL1 variants each had significant uncorrected P-values. There were no significant associations for age at onset after correction for multiple testing. Our results confirm the association of MAPT and SNCA genes with PD susceptibility, but show limited association of other PARK loci and related genes with PD.
PMCID: PMC3606822  PMID: 21412835
11.  LRRK2 exonic variants and susceptibility to Parkinson’s disease 
Lancet neurology  2011;10(10):898-908.
Leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) is known to harbor highly penetrant mutations linked to familial parkinsonism. However, its full polymorphic variability in relationship to Parkinson’s disease (PD) risk has not been systematically assessed.
We examined the frequency pathogenicity of 121 exonic LRRK2 variants in three ethnic series (Caucasian [N=12,590], Asian [N=2,338] and Arab-Berber [N=612]) consisting of 8,611 patients and 6,929 control subjects from 23 separate sites of the Genetic Epidemiology of Parkinson’s Disease Consortium.
Excluding carriers of previously known pathogenic mutations, new independent risk associations were found for polymorphic variants in Caucasian (p.M1646T, OR: 1.43, 95% CI: 1.15 – 1.78, P=0.0012) and Asian (p.A419V, OR: 2.27, 95% CI: 1.35 – 3.83, P=0.0011) populations. In addition, a protective haplotype was observed at >5% frequency (p.N551K-p.R1398H-p.K1423K) in the Caucasian and Asian series’, with a similar finding in the small Arab-Berber series that requires further study (combined 3-series OR: 0.82, 95% CI: 0.72 – 0.94, P=0.0043). Of the two previously reported Asian risk variants p.G2385R was found to be associated with disease (OR: 1.73, 95% CI: 1.20 – 2.49, P=0.0026) but no association was observed for p.R1628P (OR: 0.62, 95% CI: 0.36 – 1.07, P=0.087). Also in the Arab-Berber series, p.Y2189C showed potential evidence of risk association with PD (OR: 4.48, 95% CI: 1.33 – 15.09, P=0.012). Of note, two variants (p.I1371V and p.T2356I) which have been previously proposed as pathogenic were observed in patient and control subjects at the same frequency.
LRRK2 offers an example where multiple rare and common genetic variants in the same gene have independent effects on disease risk. Lrrk2, and the pathway in which it functions, is important in the etiology and pathogenesis of a greater proportion of patients with PD than previously believed.
The present study and original funding for the GEO-PD Consortium was supported by grants from Michael J. Fox Foundation. Studies at individual sites were supported by a number of funding agencies world-wide.
PMCID: PMC3208320  PMID: 21885347
Parkinson disease; LRRK2; genetics
12.  Incidental Lewy Body Disease: Do some cases represent a preclinical stage of Dementia with Lewy Bodies? 
Neurobiology of Aging  2009;32(5):857-863.
Lewy pathology occurs in 8–17% of neurologically-normal people >age 60, termed incidental Lewy body disease, (iLBD). It is often assumed to represent preclinical Parkinson disease (PD). However, some iLBD cases have diffuse pathology inconsistent with preclinical PD. We analyzed iLBD cases (α-synuclein immunohistochemistry) using the Braak PD staging scheme and determined if some had a neuropathological pattern suggestive of preclinical Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). Of the 235 brains examined, 34 had iLBD (14.5%) and all but one could be assigned a Braak PD stage. The distribution of α-synuclein pathology in the 33 cases fell into three patterns: (1) Diffuse cortical and subcortical α-synuclein pathology; (2) No cortical a-synuclein pathology, but a caudal-to-rostral ascending pattern, primarily involving brainstem; (3) Intermediate between these two categories. Also, 6/33 cases failed to follow the pattern of contiguous spread proposed by Braak. These findings suggest dichotomy in the distribution of iLBD: some cases fit the Braak ascending scheme, conceptually consistent with preclinical PD, whereas others displayed prominent cortical involvement that might represent preclinical DLB.
PMCID: PMC3366193  PMID: 19560232
incidental Lewy body disease; parkinson disease; dementia with Lewy bodies
13.  Independent and joint effects of the MAPT and SNCA genes in Parkinson's disease 
Annals of neurology  2011;69(5):778-792.
We studied the independent and joint effects of the genes encoding alpha-synuclein (SNCA) and microtubule associated protein tau (MAPT) in Parkinson's disease (PD) as part of a large meta-analysis of individual data from case-control studies participating in the Genetic Epidemiology of Parkinson's Disease (GEO-PD) consortium.
Participants of Caucasian ancestry were genotyped for a total of four SNCA (rs2583988, rs181489, rs356219, rs11931074) and two MAPT (rs1052553, rs242557) SNPs. Individual and joint effects of SNCA and MAPT SNPs were investigated using fixed- and random-effects logistic regression models. Interactions were studied both on a multiplicative and an additive scale, and using a case-control and case-only approach.
Fifteen GEO-PD sites contributed a total of 5302 cases and 4161 controls. All four SNCA SNPs and the MAPT H1-haplotype defining SNP (rs1052553) displayed a highly significant marginal association with PD at the significance level adjusted for multiple comparisons. For SNCA, the strongest associations were observed for SNPs located at the 3′ end of the gene. There was no evidence of statistical interaction between any of the four SNCA SNPs and rs1052553 or rs242557, neither on the multiplicative nor on the additive scale.
This study confirms the association between PD and both SNCA SNPs and the H1 MAPT haplotype. It shows, based on a variety of approaches, that the joint action of variants in these two loci is consistent with independent effects of the genes without additional interacting effects.
PMCID: PMC3082599  PMID: 21391235
Parkinson disease; SNCA; MAPT; genetics; interaction; case-control
14.  Comprehensive Research Synopsis and Systematic Meta-Analyses in Parkinson's Disease Genetics: The PDGene Database 
PLoS Genetics  2012;8(3):e1002548.
More than 800 published genetic association studies have implicated dozens of potential risk loci in Parkinson's disease (PD). To facilitate the interpretation of these findings, we have created a dedicated online resource, PDGene, that comprehensively collects and meta-analyzes all published studies in the field. A systematic literature screen of ∼27,000 articles yielded 828 eligible articles from which relevant data were extracted. In addition, individual-level data from three publicly available genome-wide association studies (GWAS) were obtained and subjected to genotype imputation and analysis. Overall, we performed meta-analyses on more than seven million polymorphisms originating either from GWAS datasets and/or from smaller scale PD association studies. Meta-analyses on 147 SNPs were supplemented by unpublished GWAS data from up to 16,452 PD cases and 48,810 controls. Eleven loci showed genome-wide significant (P<5×10−8) association with disease risk: BST1, CCDC62/HIP1R, DGKQ/GAK, GBA, LRRK2, MAPT, MCCC1/LAMP3, PARK16, SNCA, STK39, and SYT11/RAB25. In addition, we identified novel evidence for genome-wide significant association with a polymorphism in ITGA8 (rs7077361, OR 0.88, P = 1.3×10−8). All meta-analysis results are freely available on a dedicated online database (, which is cross-linked with a customized track on the UCSC Genome Browser. Our study provides an exhaustive and up-to-date summary of the status of PD genetics research that can be readily scaled to include the results of future large-scale genetics projects, including next-generation sequencing studies.
Author Summary
The genetic basis of Parkinson's disease is complex, i.e. it is determined by a number of different disease-causing and disease-predisposing genes. Especially the latter have proven difficult to find, evidenced by more than 800 published genetic association studies, typically showing discrepant results. To facilitate the interpretation of this large and continuously increasing body of data, we have created a freely available online database (“PDGene”: which provides an exhaustive account of all published genetic association studies in PD. One particularly useful feature is the calculation and display of up-to-date summary statistics of published data for overlapping DNA sequence variants (polymorphisms). These meta-analyses revealed eleven gene loci that showed a statistically very significant (P<5×10−8; a.k.a. genome-wide significance) association with risk for PD: BST1, CCDC62/HIP1R, DGKQ/GAK, GBA, LRRK2, MAPT, MCCC1/LAMP3, PARK16, SNCA, STK39, SYT11/RAB25. In addition and purely by data-mining, we identified one novel PD susceptibility locus in a gene called ITGA8 (rs7077361, P = 1.3×10−8). We note that our continuously updated database represents the most comprehensive research synopsis of genetic association studies in PD to date. In addition to vastly facilitating the work of other PD geneticists, our approach may serve as a valuable example for other complex diseases.
PMCID: PMC3305333  PMID: 22438815
15.  Anxious Personality Predicts an Increased Risk of Parkinson’s Disease 
We studied the association of three personality traits related to neuroticism with the subsequent risk of Parkinson’s disease (PD) using a historical cohort study. We included 7,216 subjects who resided within the 120-mile radius centered in Rochester, MN, at the time they completed the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) for research at the Mayo Clinic from 1962–1965. We considered three MMPI personality scales (pessimistic, anxious, and depressive traits). A total of 6,822 subjects (94.5%) were followed over 4 decades either actively or passively. During follow-up, 227 subjects developed parkinsonism (156 developed PD). An anxious personality was associated with an increased risk of PD (hazard ratio [HR], 1.63; 95% confidence interval [CI], 1.16–2.27). A pessimistic personality trait was also associated with an increased risk of PD but only in men (HR = 1.92; 95% CI = 1.20–3.07). By contrast, a depressive trait was not associated with increased risk. Analyses combining scores from the three personality scales into a composite neuroticism score showed an association of neuroticism with PD (HR = 1.54; 95% CI = 1.10–2.16). The association with neuroticism remained significant even when the MMPI was administered early in life (ages 20–39 years). By contrast, none of the three personality traits was associated with the risk of non-PD types of parkinsonism grouped together. Our long-term historical cohort study suggests that an anxious personality trait may predict an increased risk of PD developing many years later.
PMCID: PMC3089895  PMID: 20669309
Parkinson’s disease; parkinsonism; anxious personality; pessimistic personality; neuroticism; Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory
16.  Axon guidance and synaptic maintenance: preclinical markers for neurodegenerative disease and therapeutics 
Trends in neurosciences  2009;32(3):142-149.
Axon-guidance-pathway molecules are involved in connectivity and repair throughout life (beyond guiding brain wiring during fetal development). One study found that variations (single-nucleotide polymorphisms [SNPs]) in axon-guidance-pathway genes were predictive of three Parkinson’s disease (PD) outcomes (susceptibility, survival free of PD and age at onset of PD) in genome-wide association (GWA) datasets. The axon-guidance-pathway genes DCC, EPHB1, NTNG1, SEMA5A and SLIT3 were represented by SNPs predicting PD outcomes. Beyond GWA analyses, we also present relevant neurobiological roles of these axon-guidance-pathway molecules and consider mechanisms by which abnormal axon-guidance-molecule signaling can cause loss of connectivity and, ultimately, PD. Novel drugs and treatments could emerge from this new understanding.
PMCID: PMC2954610  PMID: 19162339
17.  Is Incidental Lewy Body Disease Related to Parkinson Disease? Comparison of Risk Factor Profiles 
Archives of neurology  2009;66(9):1114.
To explore whether associations of potential risk factors for incidental Lewy Body Disease (iLBD) may be similar to Parkinson Disease (PD).
Design, Setting, and Patients
We identified brain-autopsied residents of Olmsted County, MN and immediate vicinity(1988–2004), age>60, without evidence of neurodegenerative disease or tremor, and evaluated by at least one physician within one year of death. Analysis for “incidental” Lewy pathology was done blinded to clinical abstraction.
Main Outcome Measures
Whether risk factors previously associated with PD in Olmsted County, MN are also associated with iLBD.
Of 235 subjects, 34 had iLBD(14.5%). The overall risk factor profiles for iLBD and PD were fairly similar between the two sets of OR estimates, with 11/16 ORs in the same direction. Prior Olmsted County studies documented 7 risk factors with statistically significant associations with PD; for two of these, the ORs for iLBD were in the same direction and statistically significant (physician, caffeine), whereas for three, they were in the same direction but not significant (education, head injury, number-of-children); they were in the opposite direction but not statistically significant for 2 (depression, anxiety). ILBD was not associated with various end-of-life conditions or causes-of-death, although they were slightly older and more likely cachectic.
Based on this exploratory study, iLBD and PD appear to have similar risk factor profiles. Thus, at least some cases of ILBD might represent preclinical PD, arrested PD or a partial syndrome due to a lesser burden of causative factors. ILBD is not explained by non-specific end-of-life brain insults.
PMCID: PMC2813519  PMID: 19752300
18.  In vivo silencing of alpha-synuclein using naked siRNA 
Overexpression of α-synuclein (SNCA) in families with multiplication mutations causes parkinsonism and subsequent dementia, characterized by diffuse Lewy Body disease post-mortem. Genetic variability in SNCA contributes to risk of idiopathic Parkinson's disease (PD), possibly as a result of overexpression. SNCA downregulation is therefore a valid therapeutic target for PD.
We have identified human and murine-specific siRNA molecules which reduce SNCA in vitro. As a proof of concept, we demonstrate that direct infusion of chemically modified (naked), murine-specific siRNA into the hippocampus significantly reduces SNCA levels. Reduction of SNCA in the hippocampus and cortex persists for a minimum of 1 week post-infusion with recovery nearing control levels by 3 weeks post-infusion.
We have developed naked gene-specific siRNAs that silence expression of SNCA in vivo. This approach may prove beneficial toward our understanding of the endogenous functional equilibrium of SNCA, its role in disease, and eventually as a therapeutic strategy for α-synucleinopathies resulting from SNCA overexpression.
PMCID: PMC2612658  PMID: 18976489
19.  Beta-synuclein gene variants and Parkinson’s disease: A preliminary case-control study 
Neuroscience letters  2007;420(3):229-234.
Aggregation and fibrillization of the alpha-synuclein protein, which is the main component of Lewy bodies, may represent important processes in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease (PD). Several in vivo and in vitro studies suggest that beta-synuclein may be a natural negative regulator of alpha-synuclein aggregation and fibrillization. The goal of the present study was to investigate the association of two polymorphisms (rs35035889 and rs1352303) in the beta-synuclein (SNCB) gene with PD. Our case-control study included a total of 370 case-unaffected sibling pairs and 168 case-unrelated control pairs (538 pairs total). The subjects were recruited from an ongoing study of the molecular epidemiology of PD in the Upper Midwest (USA). We employed a liberalization of the sibling transmission disequilibrium test to study the main effects of the gene variants for subjects overall and for strata defined by age at study, gender, ethnicity, clinical diagnostic certainty, dementia, and family history of PD (adjusted for age at study and gender as appropriate). The analyses were conducted for each SNCB variant separately, and also for two-locus haplotypes using score tests. Neither of the SNCB SNPs examined were associated with PD overall or in strata, and haplotype analyses were negative as well. However, one of the two SNPs (rs1352303) was associated with a delayed age at onset of PD in women. The results of this preliminary study suggest that the SNCB locus, though not a susceptibility gene for PD, might modify the age at onset of PD.
PMCID: PMC1978171  PMID: 17556099
Beta-synuclein gene; Polymorphism; Case-control study; Parkinson’s disease
20.  The Long-Term Effects of Oophorectomy on Cognitive and Motor Aging Are Age Dependent 
Neuro-Degenerative Diseases  2008;5(3-4):257-260.
The evidence for a neuroprotective effect of estrogen in women remains controversial.
We studied the long-term risk of parkinsonism and of cognitive impairment or dementia in women who underwent oophorectomy before menopause.
We conducted a historical cohort study among all women residing in Olmsted County, Minn., USA, who underwent unilateral or bilateral oophorectomy before the onset of menopause for a noncancer indication from 1950 through 1987. Each member of the oophorectomy cohort was matched by age to a referent woman from the same population who had not undergone oophorectomy. In total, we studied 1,252 women with unilateral oophorectomy, 1,075 women with bilateral oophorectomy, and 2,368 referent women. Women were followed for a median of 25–30 years. Parkinsonism was assessed using screening and examination, through a medical records- linkage system, and through death certificates. Cognitive status was assessed using a structured questionnaire via a direct or proxy telephone interview.
The risk of parkinsonism and of cognitive impairment or dementia increased following oophorectomy. In particular, we observed significant linear trends of increasing risk for either outcome with younger age at oophorectomy.
Our findings, combined with previous laboratory and epidemiologic findings, suggest that estrogen may have an age-dependent neuroprotective effect.
PMCID: PMC2768565  PMID: 18322406
Oophorectomy; Estrogen; Neuroprotection; Parkinson's disease; Parkinsonism; Dementia; Cognitive impairment; Menopause
21.  Beyond Parkinson Disease: Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and the Axon Guidance Pathway 
PLoS ONE  2008;3(1):e1449.
We recently described a genomic pathway approach to study complex diseases. We demonstrated that models constructed using single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within axon guidance pathway genes were highly predictive of Parkinson disease (PD) susceptibility, survival free of PD, and age at onset of PD within two independent whole-genome association datasets. We also demonstrated that several axon guidance pathway genes represented by SNPs within our final models were differentially expressed in PD.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Here we employed our genomic pathway approach to analyze data from a whole-genome association dataset of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); and demonstrated that models constructed using SNPs within axon guidance pathway genes were highly predictive of ALS susceptibility (odds ratio = 1739.73, p = 2.92×10−60), survival free of ALS (hazards ratio = 149.80, p = 1.25×10−74), and age at onset of ALS (R2 = 0.86, p = 5.96×10−66). We also extended our analyses of a whole-genome association dataset of PD, which shared 320,202 genomic SNPs in common with the whole-genome association dataset of ALS. We compared for ALS and PD the genes represented by SNPs in the final models for susceptibility, survival free of disease, and age at onset of disease and noted that 52.2%, 37.8%, and 34.9% of the genes were shared respectively.
Our findings for the axon guidance pathway and ALS have prior biological plausibility, overlap partially with PD, and may provide important insight into the causes of these and related neurodegenerative disorders.
PMCID: PMC2175528  PMID: 18197259
22.  A Genomic Pathway Approach to a Complex Disease: Axon Guidance and Parkinson Disease 
PLoS Genetics  2007;3(6):e98.
While major inroads have been made in identifying the genetic causes of rare Mendelian disorders, little progress has been made in the discovery of common gene variations that predispose to complex diseases. The single gene variants that have been shown to associate reproducibly with complex diseases typically have small effect sizes or attributable risks. However, the joint actions of common gene variants within pathways may play a major role in predisposing to complex diseases (the paradigm of complex genetics). The goal of this study was to determine whether polymorphism in a candidate pathway (axon guidance) predisposed to a complex disease (Parkinson disease [PD]). We mined a whole-genome association dataset and identified single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that were within axon-guidance pathway genes. We then constructed models of axon-guidance pathway SNPs that predicted three outcomes: PD susceptibility (odds ratio = 90.8, p = 4.64 × 10−38), survival free of PD (hazards ratio = 19.0, p = 5.43 × 10−48), and PD age at onset (R2 = 0.68, p = 1.68 × 10−51). By contrast, models constructed from thousands of random selections of genomic SNPs predicted the three PD outcomes poorly. Mining of a second whole-genome association dataset and mining of an expression profiling dataset also supported a role for many axon-guidance pathway genes in PD. These findings could have important implications regarding the pathogenesis of PD. This genomic pathway approach may also offer insights into other complex diseases such as Alzheimer disease, diabetes mellitus, nicotine and alcohol dependence, and several cancers.
Author Summary
Complex diseases are common disorders that are believed to have many causes. Examples include Alzheimer disease, diabetes mellitus, nicotine and alcohol dependence, and several cancers. This study represents a paradigm shift from single gene to pathway studies of complex diseases. We present the example of Parkinson disease (PD) and a complex array of chemical signals that wires the brain during fetal development (the axon guidance pathway). We mined a dataset that studied hundreds of thousands of DNA variations (single nucleotide polymorphisms [SNPs]) in persons with and without PD and identified SNPs that were assigned to axon-guidance pathway genes. We then identified sets of SNPs that were highly predictive of PD susceptibility, survival free of PD, and age at onset of PD. The effect sizes and the statistical significance observed for the pathway were far greater than for any single gene. We validated our findings for the pathway using a second SNP dataset for PD and also a dataset for PD that studied RNA variations. There is prior evidence that the axon guidance pathway might play a role in other brain disorders (e.g., Alzheimer disease, Tourette syndrome, dyslexia, epilepsy, and schizophrenia). A genomic pathway approach may lead to important breakthroughs for many complex diseases.
PMCID: PMC1904362  PMID: 17571925
23.  Meta-Analysis in Genome-Wide Association Datasets: Strategies and Application in Parkinson Disease 
PLoS ONE  2007;2(2):e196.
Genome-wide association studies hold substantial promise for identifying common genetic variants that regulate susceptibility to complex diseases. However, for the detection of small genetic effects, single studies may be underpowered. Power may be improved by combining genome-wide datasets with meta-analytic techniques.
Methodology/Principal Findings
Both single and two-stage genome-wide data may be combined and there are several possible strategies. In the two-stage framework, we considered the options of (1) enhancement of replication data and (2) enhancement of first-stage data, and then, we also considered (3) joint meta-analyses including all first-stage and second-stage data. These strategies were examined empirically using data from two genome-wide association studies (three datasets) on Parkinson disease. In the three strategies, we derived 12, 5, and 49 single nucleotide polymorphisms that show significant associations at conventional levels of statistical significance. None of these remained significant after conservative adjustment for the number of performed analyses in each strategy. However, some may warrant further consideration: 6 SNPs were identified with at least 2 of the 3 strategies and 3 SNPs [rs1000291 on chromosome 3, rs2241743 on chromosome 4 and rs3018626 on chromosome 11] were identified with all 3 strategies and had no or minimal between-dataset heterogeneity (I2 = 0, 0 and 15%, respectively). Analyses were primarily limited by the suboptimal overlap of tested polymorphisms across different datasets (e.g., only 31,192 shared polymorphisms between the two tier 1 datasets).
Meta-analysis may be used to improve the power and examine the between-dataset heterogeneity of genome-wide association studies. Prospective designs may be most efficient, if they try to maximize the overlap of genotyping platforms and anticipate the combination of data across many genome-wide association studies.
PMCID: PMC1805816  PMID: 17332845
24.  Global investigation and meta-analysis of the C9orf72 (G4C2)n repeat in Parkinson disease 
Neurology  2014;83(21):1906-1913.
The objective of this study is to clarify the role of (G4C2)n expansions in the etiology of Parkinson disease (PD) in the worldwide multicenter Genetic Epidemiology of Parkinson's Disease (GEO-PD) cohort.
C9orf72 (G4C2)n repeats were assessed in a GEO-PD cohort of 7,494 patients diagnosed with PD and 5,886 neurologically healthy control individuals ascertained in Europe, Asia, North America, and Australia.
A pathogenic (G4C2)n>60 expansion was detected in only 4 patients with PD (4/7,232; 0.055%), all with a positive family history of neurodegenerative dementia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or atypical parkinsonism, while no carriers were detected with typical sporadic or familial PD. Meta-analysis revealed a small increase in risk of PD with an increasing number of (G4C2)n repeats; however, we could not detect a robust association between the C9orf72 (G4C2)n repeat and PD, and the population attributable risk was low.
Together, these findings indicate that expansions in C9orf72 do not have a major role in the pathogenesis of PD. Testing for C9orf72 repeat expansions should only be considered in patients with PD who have overt symptoms of frontotemporal lobar degeneration/amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or apparent family history of neurodegenerative dementia or motor neuron disease.
PMCID: PMC4248456  PMID: 25326098
25.  Large-scale replication and heterogeneity in Parkinson disease genetic loci 
Sharma, Manu | Ioannidis, John P.A. | Aasly, Jan O. | Annesi, Grazia | Brice, Alexis | Van Broeckhoven, Christine | Bertram, Lars | Bozi, Maria | Crosiers, David | Clarke, Carl | Facheris, Maurizio | Farrer, Matthew | Garraux, Gaetan | Gispert, Suzana | Auburger, Georg | Vilariño-Güell, Carles | Hadjigeorgiou, Georgios M. | Hicks, Andrew A. | Hattori, Nobutaka | Jeon, Beom | Lesage, Suzanne | Lill, Christina M. | Lin, Juei-Jueng | Lynch, Timothy | Lichtner, Peter | Lang, Anthony E. | Mok, Vincent | Jasinska-Myga, Barbara | Mellick, George D. | Morrison, Karen E. | Opala, Grzegorz | Pramstaller, Peter P. | Pichler, Irene | Park, Sung Sup | Quattrone, Aldo | Rogaeva, Ekaterina | Ross, Owen A. | Stefanis, Leonidas | Stockton, Joanne D. | Satake, Wataru | Silburn, Peter A. | Theuns, Jessie | Tan, Eng-King | Toda, Tatsushi | Tomiyama, Hiroyuki | Uitti, Ryan J. | Wirdefeldt, Karin | Wszolek, Zbigniew | Xiromerisiou, Georgia | Yueh, Kuo-Chu | Zhao, Yi | Gasser, Thomas | Maraganore, Demetrius | Krüger, Rejko | Boyle, R.S | Sellbach, A | O'Sullivan, J.D. | Sutherland, G.T. | Siebert, G.A | Dissanayaka, N.N.W | Van Broeckhoven, Christine | Theuns, Jessie | Crosiers, David | Pickut, Barbara | Engelborghs, Sebastiaan | Meeus, Bram | De Deyn, Peter P. | Cras, Patrick | Rogaeva, Ekaterina | Lang, Anthony E | Agid, Y | Anheim, M | Bonnet, A-M | Borg, M | Brice, A | Broussolle, E | Corvol, JC | Damier, P | Destée, A | Dürr, A | Durif, F | Lesage, S | Lohmann, E | Pollak, P | Rascol, O | Tison, F | Tranchant, C | Viallet, F | Vidailhet, M | Tzourio, Christophe | Amouyel, Philippe | Loriot, Marie-Anne | Mutez, Eugénie | Duflot, Aurélie | Legendre, Jean-Philippe | Waucquier, Nawal | Gasser, Thomas | Riess, Olaf | Berg, Daniela | Schulte, Claudia | Klein, Christine | Djarmati, Ana | Hagenah, Johann | Lohmann, Katja | Auburger, Georg | Hilker, Rüdiger | van de Loo, Simone | Dardiotis, Efthimios | Tsimourtou, Vaia | Ralli, Styliani | Kountra, Persa | Patramani, Gianna | Vogiatzi, Cristina | Hattori, Nobutaka | Tomiyama, Hiroyuki | Funayama, Manabu | Yoshino, Hiroyo | Li, Yuanzhe | Imamichi, Yoko | Toda, Tatsushi | Satake, Wataru | Lynch, Tim | Gibson, J. Mark | Valente, Enza Maria | Ferraris, Alessandro | Dallapiccola, Bruno | Ialongo, Tamara | Brighina, Laura | Corradi, Barbara | Piolti, Roberto | Tarantino, Patrizia | Annesi, Ferdinanda | Jeon, Beom S. | Park, Sung-Sup | Aasly, J | Opala, Grzegorz | Jasinska-Myga, Barbara | Klodowska-Duda, Gabriela | Boczarska-Jedynak, Magdalena | Tan, Eng King | Belin, Andrea Carmine | Olson, Lars | Galter, Dagmar | Westerlund, Marie | Sydow, Olof | Nilsson, Christer | Puschmann, Andreas | Lin, JJ | Maraganore, Demetrius M. | Ahlskog, J, Eric | de Andrade, Mariza | Lesnick, Timothy G. | Rocca, Walter A. | Checkoway, Harvey | Ross, Owen A | Wszolek, Zbigniew K. | Uitti, Ryan J.
Neurology  2012;79(7):659-667.
Eleven genetic loci have reached genome-wide significance in a recent meta-analysis of genome-wide association studies in Parkinson disease (PD) based on populations of Caucasian descent. The extent to which these genetic effects are consistent across different populations is unknown.
Investigators from the Genetic Epidemiology of Parkinson's Disease Consortium were invited to participate in the study. A total of 11 SNPs were genotyped in 8,750 cases and 8,955 controls. Fixed as well as random effects models were used to provide the summary risk estimates for these variants. We evaluated between-study heterogeneity and heterogeneity between populations of different ancestry.
In the overall analysis, single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) in 9 loci showed significant associations with protective per-allele odds ratios of 0.78–0.87 (LAMP3, BST1, and MAPT) and susceptibility per-allele odds ratios of 1.14–1.43 (STK39, GAK, SNCA, LRRK2, SYT11, and HIP1R). For 5 of the 9 replicated SNPs there was nominally significant between-site heterogeneity in the effect sizes (I2 estimates ranged from 39% to 48%). Subgroup analysis by ethnicity showed significantly stronger effects for the BST1 (rs11724635) in Asian vs Caucasian populations and similar effects for SNCA, LRRK2, LAMP3, HIP1R, and STK39 in Asian and Caucasian populations, while MAPT rs2942168 and SYT11 rs34372695 were monomorphic in the Asian population, highlighting the role of population-specific heterogeneity in PD.
Our study allows insight to understand the distribution of newly identified genetic factors contributing to PD and shows that large-scale evaluation in diverse populations is important to understand the role of population-specific heterogeneity. Neurology® 2012;79:659–667
PMCID: PMC3414661  PMID: 22786590

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