Tremor is the most common movement disorder presenting to an outpatient neurology practice and is defined as a rhythmical, involuntary oscillatory movement of a body part. The authors review the clinical examination, classification, and diagnosis of tremor. The pathophysiology of the more common forms of tremor is outlined, and treatment options are discussed. Essential tremor is characterized primarily by postural and action tremors, may be a neurodegenerative disorder with pathologic changes in the cerebellum, and can be treated with a wide range of pharmacologic and nonpharmacologic methods. Tremor at rest is typical for Parkinson’s disease, but may arise independently of a dopaminergic deficit. Enhanced physiologic tremor, intention tremor, and dystonic tremor are discussed. Further differential diagnoses described in this review include drug- or toxin-induced tremor, neuropathic tremor, psychogenic tremor, orthostatic tremor, palatal tremor, tremor in Wilson’s disease, and tremor secondary to cerebral lesions, such as Holmes’ tremor (midbrain tremor). An individualized approach to treatment of tremor patients is important, taking into account the degree of disability, including social embarrassment, which the tremor causes in the patient’s life.
Tremor; essential tremor; Parkinson’s disease; dystonia; pathophysiology
Parkinson’s disease (PD) is a multifactorial movement disorder characterized by progressive neurodegeneration. Genome-wide association studies (GWAS) have nominated over fifteen distinct loci associated with risk of PD, however the biological mechanisms by which these loci influence disease risk are mostly unknown. GWAS are only the first step in the identification of disease genes: the specific causal variants responsible for the risk within the associated loci and the interactions between them must be identified to fully comprehend their impact on the development of PD. In the present study, we first attempted to replicate the association signals of 17 PD GWAS loci in our series of 1381 patients with PD and 1328 controls. BST1, SNCA, HLA-DRA, CCDC62/HIP1R and MAPT all showed a significant association with PD under different models of inheritance and LRRK2 showed a suggestive association. We then examined the role of coding LRRK2 variants in the GWAS association signal for that gene. The previously identified LRRK2 risk mutant p.M1646T and protective haplotype p.N551K-R1398H-K1423K did not explain the association signal of LRRK2 in our series. Finally, we investigated the gene-gene interaction between PARK16 and LRRK2 that has previously been proposed. We observed no interaction between PARK16 and LRRK2 GWAS variants, but did observe a non-significant trend toward interaction between PARK16 and LRRK2 variants within the protective haplotype. Identification of causal variants and the interactions between them is the crucial next step in making biological sense of the massive amount of data generated by GWAS studies. Future studies combining larger sample sizes will undoubtedly shed light on the complex molecular interplay leading to the development of PD.
Association studies in genetics; Parkinson’s disease/Parkinsonism
An extensive variety of THAP1 sequence variants have been associated with focal, segmental and generalized dystonia with age of onset ranging from 3 to over 60 years. In previous work, we screened 1,114 subjects with mainly adult-onset primary dystonia (Neurology 2010;74:229-238) and identified 6 missense mutations in THAP1. For this report, we screened 750 additional subjects for mutations in coding regions of THAP1 and interrogated all published descriptions of THAP1 phenotypes (gender, age of onset, anatomical distribution of dystonia, family history and site of onset) to explore the possibility of THAP1 genotype-phenotype correlations and facilitate a deeper understanding of THAP1 pathobiology. We identified 5 additional missense mutations in THAP1 (p.A7D, p.K16E, p.S21C, p.R29Q, and p.I80V). Three of these variants are associated with appendicular tremors, which were an isolated or presenting sign in some of the affected subjects. Abductor laryngeal dystonia and mild blepharospasm can be manifestations of THAP1 mutations in some individuals. Overall, mean age of onset for THAP1 dystonia is 16.8 years and the most common sites of onset are the arm and neck, and the most frequently affected anatomical site is the neck. In addition, over half of patients exhibit either cranial or laryngeal involvement. Protein truncating mutations and missense mutations within the THAP domain of THAP1 tend to manifest at an earlier age and exhibit more extensive anatomical distributions than mutations localized to other regions of THAP1.
Dystonia; THAP1; DYT6; Spasmodic dysphonia; Tremor
The c.4309A>C mutation in the LRRK2 gene (LRRK2 p.N1437H) has recently been reported as the seventh pathogenic LRRK2 mutation causing monogenic Parkinson's disease (PD). So far, only two families worldwide have been identified with this mutation. By screening DNA from seven brains of PD patients, we found one individual with seemingly sporadic PD and LRRK2 p.N1437H mutation. Clinically, the patient had levodopa-responsive PD with tremor, and developed severe motor fluctuations during a disease duration of 19 years. There was severe and painful ON-dystonia, and severe depression with suicidal thoughts during OFF. In the advanced stage, cognition was slow during motor OFF, but there was no noticeable cognitive decline. There were no signs of autonomic nervous system dysfunction. Bilateral deep brain stimulation of the subthalamic nucleus had unsatisfactory results on motor symptoms. The patient committed suicide. Neuropathological examination revealed marked cell loss and moderate alpha-synuclein positive Lewy body pathology in the brainstem. There was sparse Lewy pathology in the cortex. A striking finding was very pronounced ubiquitin-positive pathology in the brainstem, temporolimbic regions and neocortex. Ubiquitin positivity was most pronounced in the white matter, and was out of proportion to the comparatively weaker alpha-synuclein immunoreactivity. Immunostaining for tau was mildly positive, revealing non-specific changes, but staining for TDP-43 and FUS was entirely negative. The distribution and shape of ubiquitin positive lesions in this patient differed from the few previously described patients with LRRK2 mutations and ubiquitin pathology, and the ubiquitinated protein substrate remains undefined.
Autosomal Dominant Parkinsonism; LRRK2; alpha-Synuclein; Ubiquitin; Deep Brain Stimulation; Suicide
Recently, heterozygous mutations in PRRT2 (Chr 16p11.2) have been identified in Han Chinese, Japanese and Caucasians with paroxysmal kinesigenic dyskinesia. In previous work, a paroxysmal kinesigenic dyskinesia locus was mapped to Chr 16p11.2 - q11.2 in a multiplex African-American family.
Sanger sequencing was used to analyze all four PRRT2 exons for sequence variants in 13 probands (9 Caucasian, 1 Caucasian-Thai, 1 Vietnamese and 2 African-American) with some form of paroxysmal dyskinesia.
One patient of mixed Caucasian-Thai background and one African-American family harbored the previously described hotspot mutation in PRRT2 (c.649dupC, p.R217Pfs*8). Another African-American family was found to have a novel mutation (c.776dupG, p.E260*). Both of these variants are likely to cause loss-of-function via nonsense-mediated decay of mutant PRRT2 transcripts. All affected individuals had classic paroxysmal kinesigenic dyskinesia phenotypes.
Heterozygous PRRT2 gene mutations also cause paroxysmal kinesigenic dyskinesia in African-Americans. The c.649dupC hotspot mutation in PRRT2 is common across racial groups.
PKD; PRRT2; African-American; ICCA; Hotspot mutation
Our understanding of the molecular mechanisms of many neurological disorders has been greatly enhanced by the discovery of mutations in genes linked to familial forms of these diseases. These have facilitated the generation of cell and animal models that can be used to understand the underlying molecular pathology. Recently, there has been a surge of interest in the use of patient-derived cells, due to the development of induced pluripotent stem cells and their subsequent differentiation into neurons and glia. Access to patient cell lines carrying the relevant mutations is a limiting factor for many centres wishing to pursue this research. We have therefore generated an open-access collection of fibroblast lines from patients carrying mutations linked to neurological disease. These cell lines have been deposited in the National Institute for Neurological Disorders and Stroke (NINDS) Repository at the Coriell Institute for Medical Research and can be requested by any research group for use in in vitro disease modelling. There are currently 71 mutation-defined cell lines available for request from a wide range of neurological disorders and this collection will be continually expanded. This represents a significant resource that will advance the use of patient cells as disease models by the scientific community.
The genetic cause of late-onset focal and segmental dystonia remains unknown in most individuals. Recently, mutations in Thanatos-associated protein domain containing, apoptosis associated protein 1 (THAP1) have been described in DYT6 dystonia and associated with some cases of familial and sporadic late-onset dystonia in Caucasians. We are not aware of any previous descriptions of familial dystonia in African Americans or reports of THAP1 mutations in African Americans. Herein, we characterize an African-American (AA) kindred with late-onset primary dystonia, clinically and genetically. The clinical phenotype included cervical, laryngeal and hand-forearm dystonia. Symptoms were severe and disabling for several family members, whereas others only displayed mild signs. There were no accompanying motor or cognitive signs. In this kindred, age of onset ranged from 45 to 50 years and onset was frequently sudden, with symptoms developing within weeks or months. DYT1 was excluded as the cause of dystonia in this kindred. The entire genomic region of THAP1, including non-coding regions, was sequenced. We identified 13 sequence variants in THAP1, although none co-segregated with dystonia. A novel THAP1 variant (c.-237-3G>T/A) was found in 3/84 AA dystonia patient alleles and 3/212 AA control alleles, but not in 5,870 Caucasian alleles. In summary, although previously unreported, familial primary dystonia does occur in African Americans. Genetic analysis of the entire genomic region of THAP1 revealed a novel variant that was specific for African Americans. Therefore, genetic testing for dystonia and future studies of candidate genes must take genetic background into consideration.
Dystonia; Genetics; African American; DYT6; THAP1; Adult-Onset Dystonias; Dystonia, Hereditary; Focal Dystonia
A role for the immune system in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s Disease (PD) has previously been suggested. A recent genome-wide association (GWA) study identified an association between one single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) in the human leucocyte antigen (HLA) region (HLA-DRA rs3129882) and PD in a population of American patients with European ancestry. In that study, the minor rs3129882 allele (G) was associated with an increased risk of PD under an additive model. Due to the increased likelihood of obtaining false positive results in GWA studies compared to studies conducted based on a hypothesis-driven approach, repeated validation of findings from GWA studies are necessary. Herein, we evaluated the association between rs3129882 and PD in three different Caucasian patient-control series (combined 1,313 patients and 1,305 controls) from the US, Ireland, and Poland. We observed no association (OR: 0.96, P=0.50) between rs3129882 and PD when analyzing our data under an additive or dominant model. In contrast, when examined under a recessive model, the GG genotype was observed to be protective in the Irish (OR: 0.55, P=0.008), Polish (OR: 0.67, P=0.040) and combined (OR: 0.75, P=0.006) patient-control series. In view of these diverging results, the exact role of genetic variation at the HLA region and susceptibility to PD remains to be resolved.
Association studies; Parkinson’s disease; Human leukocyte antigen; HLA; HLA-DRA; Immune system; Genetics
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.
Parkinson disease; SNCA; MAPT; genetics; interaction; case-control
The global impact of LRRK2 mutations is yet to be realized with a lack of studies in specific ethnic groups, including those of Asian and African descent. Herein we investigated the frequency of common LRRK2 variants by complete exon sequencing in a series of publicly available African American Parkinson's disease patients. Our study identified three novel synonymous exonic variants and thirteen known coding variations however, there did not appear to be any frequent (>5%) pathogenic mutations. Given the ethnic-specific LRRK2 variation previously identified in PD further studies in under-represented populations are warranted.
Parkinsonism; Leucine-rich repeat kinase 2; genetics
A de novo α-synuclein A53T (p.Ala53Thr; c.209G>A) mutation has been identified in a Swedish family with autosomal dominant Parkinson's disease (PD). Two affected individuals had early-onset (before 31 and 40 years), severe levodopa-responsive PD with prominent dysphasia, dysarthria, and cognitive decline. Longitudinal clinical follow-up, EEG, SPECT and CSF biomarker examinations suggested an underlying encephalopathy with cortical involvement. The mutated allele (c.209A) was present within a haplotype different from that shared among mutation carriers in the Italian (Contursi) and the Greek-American Family H kindreds. One unaffected family member carried the mutation haplotype without the c.209A mutation, strongly suggesting its de novo occurrence within this family. Furthermore, a novel mutation c.488G>A (p.Arg163His; R163H) in the presenilin-2 (PSEN2) gene was detected, but was not associated with disease state.
Parkinsonian disorders; Autosomal Dominant Parkinsonism; alpha-Synuclein; Biomarkers