We tested the hypothesis that dopamine-dependent motor learning mechanism underlies the long-duration response to levodopa in Parkinson disease (PD) based on our studies in a mouse model. By data-mining the motor task performance in dominant and nondominant hands of the subjects in a double-blind randomized trial of levodopa therapy, the effects of activity and dopamine therapy were examined.
We data-mined the Earlier versus Later Levodopa Therapy in Parkinson's Disease (ELLDOPA) study published in 2005 and performed statistical analysis comparing the effects of levodopa and dominance of handedness over 42 weeks.
The mean change in finger-tapping counts from baseline before the initiation of therapy to predose at 9 weeks and 40 weeks increased more in the dominant compared to nondominant hand in levodopa-treated subjects in a dose-dependent fashion. There was no significant difference in dominant vs nondominant hands in the placebo group. The short-duration response assessed by the difference of postdose performance compared to predose performance at the same visit did not show any significant difference between dominant vs nondominant hands.
Active use of the dominant hand and dopamine replacement therapy produces synergistic effect on long-lasting motor task performance during “off” medication state. Such effect was confined to dopamine-responsive symptoms and not seen in dopamine-resistant symptoms such as gait and balance. We propose that long-lasting motor learning facilitated by activity and dopamine is a form of disease modification that is often seen in trials of medications that have symptomatic effects.
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
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.
Parkinson disease; LRRK2; SNCA; MAPT; interaction; genetics
Parkinson’s disease (PD) and multiple system atrophy (MSA) are progressive neurodegenerative disorders classified as synucleinopathies, which are defined by the presence of α-synuclein protein pathology. Genetic studies have identified a total of 18 PARK loci that are associated with PD. The SNCA gene encodes the α-synuclein protein. The first pathogenic α-synuclein p.A53T substitution was discovered in 1997; this was followed by the identification of p.A30P and p.E46K pathogenic substitutions in 1998 and 2004, respectively. In the last year, two possible α-synuclein pathogenic substitutions, p.A18T and p.A29S, and two probable pathogenic substitutions, p.H50Q and p.G51D have been nominated. Next-generation sequencing approaches in familial PD have identified mutations in the VPS35 gene. A VPS35 p.D620N substitution remains the only confirmed pathogenic substitution. A second synucleinopathy, MSA, originally was considered a sporadic condition with little or no familial aggregation. However, recessive COQ2 mutations recently were nominated to be the genetic cause in a subset of familial and sporadic MSA cases. Further studies on the clinicogenetics and pathology of parkinsonian disorders will facilitate clarification of the molecular characteristics and pathomechanisms underlying these disorders.
SNCA; VPS35; PD; MSA; Genetics; Familial
Excessive daytime sleepiness is a commonly reported problem in dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). We examined the relationship between nighttime sleep continuity and the propensity to fall asleep during the day in clinically probable DLB compared to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) dementia.
A full-night polysomnography was carried out in 61 participants with DLB and 26 with AD dementia. Among this group, 32 participants with DLB and 18 with AD dementia underwent a daytime Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT). Neuropathologic examinations of 20 participants with DLB were carried out.
Although nighttime sleep efficiency did not differentiate diagnostic groups, the mean MSLT initial sleep latency was significantly shorter in participants with DLB than in those with AD dementia (mean 6.4 ± 5 minutes vs 11 ± 5 minutes, P <0.01). In the DLB group, 81% fell asleep within 10 minutes compared to 39% of the AD dementia group (P <0.01), and 56% in the DLB group fell asleep within 5 minutes compared to 17% in the AD dementia group (P <0.01). Daytime sleepiness in AD dementia was associated with greater dementia severity, but mean MSLT latency in DLB was not related to dementia severity, sleep efficiency the night before, or to visual hallucinations, fluctuations, parkinsonism or rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder. These data suggest that abnormal daytime sleepiness is a unique feature of DLB that does not depend on nighttime sleep fragmentation or the presence of the four cardinal DLB features. Of the 20 DLB participants who underwent autopsy, those with transitional Lewy body disease (brainstem and limbic) did not differ from those with added cortical pathology (diffuse Lewy body disease) in dementia severity, DLB core features or sleep variables.
Daytime sleepiness is more likely to occur in persons with DLB than in those with AD dementia. Daytime sleepiness in DLB may be attributed to disrupted brainstem and limbic sleep–wake physiology, and further work is needed to better understand the underlying mechanisms.
To determine the rate of progression of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB).
We followed 337 patients with MCI in the Mayo Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (range 2–12 years). Competing risks survival models were used to examine the rates of progression to clinically probable DLB and Alzheimer disease (AD). A subset of patients underwent neuropathologic examination.
In this clinical cohort, 116 remained as MCI, while 49 progressed to probable DLB, 162 progressed to clinically probable AD, and 10 progressed to other dementias. Among nonamnestic MCI, progression rate to probable DLB was 20 events per 100 person-years and to probable AD was 1.6 per 100 person-years. Among amnestic MCI, progression rate to probable AD was 17 events per 100 person-years, and to DLB was 1.5 events per 100 person-years. In 88% of those who developed probable DLB, the baseline MCI diagnosis included attention and/or visuospatial deficits. Those who developed probable DLB were more likely to have baseline daytime sleepiness and subtle parkinsonism. In 99% of the clinically probable AD group, the baseline MCI diagnosis included memory impairment. Neuropathologic confirmation was obtained in 24 of 30 of those with clinically probable AD, and in 14 of 18 of those with clinically probable DLB.
In a clinical sample, patients with nonamnestic MCI were more likely to develop DLB, and those with amnestic MCI were more likely to develop probable AD.
Background and Objective
Genes encoding RNA-binding proteins, including FUS and TDP43, play a central role in different neurodegenerative diseases such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal lobar degeneration. Recently, a mutation located in the nuclear export signal (NES) of the FUS gene has been reported to cause an autosomal dominant form of familial Essential tremor.
Material and Methods
We sequenced the exons coding the NES domains of five RNA-binding proteins (TARDBP, hnRNPA2B1, hnRNPA1, TAF15 and EWSR1) that have been previously implicated in neurodegeneration in a series of 257 essential tremor (ET) cases and 376 healthy controls. We genotyped 404 additional ET subjects and 510 healthy controls to assess the frequency of the EWSR1 p.R471C substitution.
We identified a rare EWSR1 p.R471C substitution, which is highly conserved, in a single subject with familial ET. The pathogenicity of this substitution remains equivocal, as DNA samples from relatives were not available and the genotyping of 404 additional ET subjects did not reveal any further carriers. No other variants were observed with significant allele frequency differences compared to controls in the NES coding regions.
The present study demonstrates that the NES domains of RNA-binding proteins are highly conserved. The role of the EWSR1 p.R471C substitution needs to be further evaluated in future studies.
Loss of function COQ2 mutations results in primary CoQ10 deficiency. Recently, recessive mutations of the COQ2 gene have been identified in two unrelated Japanese families with multiple system atrophy (MSA). It has also been proposed that specific heterozygous variants in the COQ2 gene may confer susceptibility to sporadic MSA. To assess the frequency of COQ2 variants in patients with MSA, we sequenced the entire coding region and investigated all exonic copy number variants of the COQ2 gene in 97 pathologically-confirmed and 58 clinically-diagnosed MSA patients from the United States.
We did not find any homozygous or compound heterozygous pathogenic COQ2 mutations including deletion or multiplication within our series of MSA patients. In two patients, we identified two heterozygous COQ2 variants (p.S54W and c.403 + 10G > T) of unknown significance, which were not observed in 360 control subjects. We also identified one heterozygous carrier of a known loss of function p.S146N substitution in a severe MSA-C pathologically-confirmed patient.
The COQ2 p.S146N substitution has been previously reported as a pathogenic mutation in primary CoQ10 deficiency (including infantile multisystem disorder) in a recessive manner. This variant is the third primary CoQ10 deficiency mutation observed in an MSA case (p.R387X and p.R197H). Therefore it is possible that in the heterozygous state it may increase susceptibility to MSA. Further studies, including reassessing family history in patients of primary CoQ10 deficiency for the possible occurrence of MSA, are now warranted to resolve the role of COQ2 variation in MSA.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1750-1326-9-44) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
COQ2; Multiple system atrophy; Genetics; CoQ10 deficiency
Atypical Parkinsonism associated with white matter pathology has been described in cerebrovascular diseases, mitochondrial cytopathies, osmotic demyelinating disorders, leukoencephalopathies including leukodystrophies, and others. Hereditary diffuse leukoencephalopathy with spheroids (HDLS) is an autosomal dominant disorder with symptomatic onset in midlife and death within a few years after symptom onset. Neuroimaging reveals cerebral white matter lesions that are pathologically characterized by non-inflammatory myelin loss, reactive astrocytosis, and axonal spheroids. Most cases are caused by mutations in the colony-stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF1R) gene.
We studied neuropathologically verified HDLS patients with CSF1R mutations to assess Parkinsonian features. Ten families were evaluated with 16 affected individuals. During the course of the illness, all patients had at least some degree of bradykinesia. Fifteen patients had postural instability, and seven had rigidity. Two patients initially presented with Parkinsonian gait and asymmetrical bradykinesia. These two patients and two others exhibited bradykinesia, rigidity, postural instability, and tremor (two with resting) early in the course of the illness. Levodopa/carbidopa therapy in these four patients provided no benefit, and the remaining 12 patients were not treated. The mean age of onset for all patients was about 45 years (range, 18-71) and the mean disease duration was approximately six years (range, 3-11).
We also reviewed HDLS patients published prior to the CSF1R discovery for the presence of Parkinsonian features. Out of 50 patients, 37 had gait impairments, 8 rigidity, 7 bradykinesia, and 5 resting tremor. Our report emphasizes the presence of atypical Parkinsonism in HDLS due to CSF1R mutations.
HDLS; CSF1R mutation; Parkinsonism; Autosomal dominant; White matter disorders
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.
Parkinson disease; LRRK2; genetics; association study
Essential Tremor is the most common form of movement disorder. Aggregation in families suggests a strong genetic component to disease. Linkage and association studies have identified several risk loci but the specific causal variants are still unknown. A recent study using whole exome sequencing identified a rare nonsense variant in the FUS gene (p.Q290X) that segregated with Essential Tremor in a large French Canadian family. In addition, two other rare FUS variants were identified (p.R216C and p.P431L) in Essential Tremor patients however co-segregation analysis with disease was not possible. In the present study, we sequenced all 15 exons of FUS in 152 familial probands with Essential Tremor and genotyped three reported FUS variants in 112 sporadic Essential Tremor patients and 716 control subjects recruited at Mayo Clinic Florida. Only known synonymous SNPs unlikely to be pathogenic were detected in our sequencing and not any of the recently identified mutations or novel ones. We conclude that the FUS mutations associated with risk of Essential Tremor are probably a rare occurrence.
Essential tremor; Fused in Sarcoma; Parkinson disease; genetic
We examined the clinical and pathologic phenotypes of GRN mutation carriers with the pathogenic A9D (g.26C>A) missense mutation.
Three patients with GRN A9D mutations were evaluated clinically and came to autopsy with subsequent neuropathologic examination.
The clinical diagnoses of patients with GRN A9D mutations were amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, atypical extrapyramidal disorder, and behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia. Immunohistochemistry for TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) revealed variability in morphology and distribution of pathology. One patient had notable involvement of motor neurons in the spinal cord as well as type B TDP-43, whereas 2 other patients had type A TDP-43.
The clinical presentation of the GRN A9D missense mutation is not restricted to behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia and may include aphasia, extrapyramidal features, and, notably, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Although coding variants in THAP1 have been causally associated with primary dystonia, the contribution of noncoding variants remains uncertain. Herein, we examine a previously identified Intron 1 variant (c.71+9C>A, rs200209986). Among 1672 subjects with mainly adult-onset primary dystonia, 12 harbored the variant in contrast to 1/1574 controls (P < 0.01). Dystonia classification included cervical dystonia (N = 3), laryngeal dystonia (adductor subtype, N = 3), jaw-opening oromandibular dystonia (N = 1), blepharospasm (N = 2), and unclassified (N = 3). Age of dystonia onset ranged from 25 to 69 years (mean = 54 years). In comparison to controls with no identified THAP1 sequence variants, the c.71+9C>A variant was associated with an elevated ratio of Isoform 1 (NM_018105) to Isoform 2 (NM_199003) in leukocytes. In silico and minigene analyses indicated that c.71+9C>A alters THAP1 splicing. Lymphoblastoid cells harboring the c.71+9C>A variant showed extensive apoptosis with relatively fewer cells in the G2 phase of the cell cycle. Differentially expressed genes from lymphoblastoid cells revealed that the c.71+9C>A variant exerts effects on DNA synthesis, cell growth and proliferation, cell survival, and cytotoxicity. In aggregate, these data indicate that THAP1 c.71+9C>A is a risk factor for adult-onset primary dystonia.
Dystonia; DYT6; intronic variant; minigene assay; THAP1
Ability to work and independent living capacity are of particular concern for patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD). We utilized a series of PD patients able to work or live independently at baseline, and evaluated potential risk factors for the two separate outcomes of loss of ability to work and loss of ability to live independently.
The series was comprised of 495 PD patients followed prospectively. Ability to work and ability to live independently were based on clinical interview and examination. Cox regression models adjusted for age and disease duration were used to evaluate associations of baseline characteristics with loss of ability to work and loss of ability to live independently.
Higher UPDRS dyskinesia score, UPDRS instability score, UPDRS total score, Hoehn and Yahr stage, and presence of intellectual impairment at baseline were all associated with increased risk of future loss of ability to work and loss of ability to live independently (P≤0.0033). Five years after initial visit, for patients ≤70 years of age with a disease duration ≤4 years at initial visit, 88% were still able to work and 90% to live independently. These estimates worsened as age and disease duration at initial visit increased; for patients >70 years of age with a disease duration >4 years, estimates at 5 years were 43% and 57%, respectively.
The information provided in this study can offer useful information for PD patients in preparing for future loss of ability to perform activities of daily living.
Parkinson disease; work ability; independence
Mutations of the TARDBP gene encoding TDP-43 protein have been shown to cause amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and have been reported to present with clinical heterogeneity including parkinsonism. In addition, TDP-43 pathology has been observed across a spectrum of neurodegenerative disorders, including Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. Herein we report the presence of a TDP-43 mutation in a patient with a clinical diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease. The TDP-43 p.N267S substitution has been previously implicated in both amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia. Our findings widen the phenotypic presentation for the TDP-43 p.N267S substitution and support a possible role for rare TDP-43 mutations presenting with Parkinson’s disease.
TDP-43; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Parkinson’s disease
Genetic variation in the leucine-rich repeat and Ig domain containing 1 gene (LINGO1) was recently associated with an increased risk of developing essential tremor (ET) and Parkinson disease (PD). Herein, we performed a comprehensive study of LINGO1 and its paralog LINGO2 in ET and PD by sequencing both genes in patients (ET, n=95; PD, n=96) and by examining haplotype-tagging single-nucleotide polymorphisms (tSNPs) in a multicenter North American series of patients (ET, n=1,247; PD, n=633) and controls (n=642). The sequencing study identified six novel coding variants in LINGO1 (p.S4C, p.V107M, p.A277T, p.R423R, p.G537A, p.D610D) and three in LINGO2 (p.D135D, p.P217P, p.V565V), however segregation analysis did not support pathogenicity. The association study employed 16 tSNPs at the LINGO1 locus and 21 at the LINGO2 locus. One variant in LINGO1 (rs9652490) displayed evidence of an association with ET (odds ratio (OR)=0.63; P=0.026) and PD (OR=0.54; P=0.016). Additionally, four other tSNPs in LINGO1 and one in LINGO2 were associated with ET and one tSNP in LINGO2 associated with PD (P<0.05). Further analysis identified one tSNP in LINGO1 and two in LINGO2 which influenced age at onset of ET and two tSNPs in LINGO1 which altered age at onset of PD (P<0.05). Our results support a role for LINGO1 and LINGO2 in determining risk for and perhaps age at onset of ET and PD. Further studies are warranted to confirm these findings and to determine the pathogenic mechanisms involved.
Essential tremor; Parkinson disease; LINGO1; LINGO2; Genetic association
The hexanucleotide expanded repeat (GGGGCC) in intron 1 of the C9orf72 gene is recognized as the most common genetic form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). However, as part of the clinical phenotype, some patients present with parkinsonism. The present study investigated the potential expansion or association of the C9orf72 repeat length with susceptibility to Parkinson’s disease and related disorders, essential tremor and restless legs syndrome. One restless legs syndrome patient was shown to harbor a repeat expansion, however on clinical follow-up this patient was observed to have developed frontotemporal dementia. There was no evidence of association of repeat length on disease risk or age-at-onset for any of the three disorders. Therefore the C9orf72 hexanucleotide repeat expansion appears to be specific to TDP-43 driven amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and dementia.
C9orf72; expanded repeat; PD; ET; RLS; genetic association
To examine predictive factors associated with onset of depression among individuals diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease (PD).
Depression may precede or follow symptomatic parkinsonism in PD. It is frequently treatable but often overlooked.
The clinical series comprised 685 individuals who were diagnosed with PD and followed by one neurologist (RJU) from 1994 to 2007. The primary outcome was time to depression following the onset of PD. Diagnosis of depression was based on clinical assessment of depressive symptoms from patients (and spouse/family/caregiver) and antidepressant usage. A number of demographic, historical and clinical predictive factors were examined, including gender, age at symptomatic onset, disease duration, onset characteristics, clinical ratings, antiparkinsonian medications, cognitive status, depression history, and familial history of PD and other neurodegenerative disorders.
Seventy-two percent of patients developed depression within ten years of symptomatic PD onset, and the mean time to depression was 7.9 years (median: 5.7 years). Factors associated with depression included longer PD duration, greater impairment in activities of daily living, and positive family history of motor neuron disease (MND).
A high rate of individuals with PD develop depressive symptoms during the course of the disease. Based on first clinic visit characteristics, most factors examined were not helpful in identifying individuals with an increased risk of depression. However, disease duration, functional limitations and family history of MND should lead clinicians to an increased vigilance for identifying depression.
Pallido-ponto-nigral degeneration (PPND), caused by an N279K mutation of the MAPT gene, is 1 of a family of disorders collectively referred to as frontotemporal dementia and parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17. This study aims to characterize the nature of the sleep disturbance in PPND and compare these findings to those in other progressive neurological illnesses. Pathological findings are also provided.
Ten subjects were recruited from the PPND kindred; 5 affected and 5 unaffected. The subjects underwent clinical assessment, polysomnography, and wrist actigraphy. Available sleep-relevant areas (pedunculopontine/laterodorsal tegmentum, nucleus basalis of Meynert, thalamus, and locus ceruleus) of affected subjects were analyzed postmortem.
The affected group's total sleep time was an average of 130.8 minutes compared to 403.6 minutes in the control group (p < 0.01). Initial sleep latency was significantly longer in affected subjects (range, 58–260 minutes vs 3–34 minutes). Affected subjects also had an increase in stage I sleep (8.5% vs 1%), and less stage III/IV sleep (8.5% vs 17%). At the time of autopsy, all cases had severe neuronal tau pathology in wake-promoting nuclei, as well as decreases in thalamic cholinergic innervations. There was no difference in orexinergic fiber density in nucleus basalis of Meynert or locus ceruleus compared to controls.
The PPND kindred showed severe sleep disturbance. Sleep abnormalities are common in neurodegenerative illnesses, but this is the first study of sleep disorders in PPND. Unlike most neurodegenerative conditions, PPND is characterized by decreased total sleep time, increased sleep latency, and decreased sleep efficiency, without daytime hypersomnolence.
Expansions of the non-coding GGGGCC hexanucleotide repeat in the chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9ORF72) gene were recently identified as the long sought-after cause of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) on chromosome 9p. In this study we aimed to determine whether the length of the normal - unexpanded - allele of the GGGGCC repeat in C9ORF72 plays a role in the presentation of disease or affects age at onset in C9ORF72 mutation carriers. We also studied whether the GGGGCC repeat length confers risk or affects age at onset in FTD and ALS patients without C9ORF72 repeat expansions. C9ORF72 genotyping was performed in 580 FTD, 995 ALS and 160 FTD-ALS patients and 1444 controls, leading to the identification of 211 patients with pathogenic C9ORF72 repeat expansions and an accurate quantification of the length of the normal alleles in all patients and controls. No meaningful association between the repeat length of the normal alleles of the GGGGCC repeat in C9ORF72 and disease phenotype or age at onset was observed in C9ORF72 mutation carriers or non-mutation carriers.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Frontotemporal Dementia; C9ORF72; Repeat-expansion disease; Association study
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
To describe the brain MRI characteristics of hereditary diffuse leukoencephalopathy with spheroids (HDLS) with known mutations in the colony-stimulating factor 1 receptor gene (CSF1R) on chromosome 5.
We reviewed 20 brain MRI scans of 15 patients with autopsy- or biopsy-verified HDLS and CSF1R mutations. We assessed sagittal T1-, axial T1-, T2-, proton density-weighted and axial fluid-attenuated inversion recovery images for distribution of white matter lesions (WMLs), gray matter involvement, and atrophy. We calculated a severity score based on a point system (0−57) for each MRI scan.
Of the patients, 93% (14 of 15) demonstrated localized WMLs with deep and subcortical involvement, whereas one patient revealed generalized WMLs. All WMLs were bilateral but asymmetric and predominantly frontal. Fourteen patients had a rapidly progressive clinical course with an initial MRI mean total severity score of 16.7 points (range 10−33.5). Gray matter pathology and brainstem atrophy were absent, and the corticospinal tracts were involved late in the disease course. There was no enhancement, and there was minimal cerebellar pathology.
Recognition of the typical MRI patterns of HDLS and the use of an MRI severity score might help during the diagnostic evaluation to characterize the natural history and to monitor potential future treatments. Indicators of rapid disease progression were symptomatic disease onset before 45 years, female sex, WMLs extending beyond the frontal regions, a MRI severity score greater than 15 points, and mutation type of deletion.
Rare mutations in the gene encoding for tau (MAPT, microtubule-associated protein tau) cause frontotemporal dementia-spectrum (FTD-s) disorders, including FTD, progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) and corticobasal syndrome, and a common extended haplotype spanning across the MAPT locus is associated with increased risk of PSP and Parkinson's disease. We identified a rare tau variant (p.A152T) in a patient with a clinical diagnosis of PSP and assessed its frequency in multiple independent series of patients with neurodegenerative conditions and controls, in a total of 15 369 subjects.
Tau p.A152T significantly increases the risk for both FTD-s (n = 2139, OR = 3.0, CI: 1.6–5.6, P = 0.0005) and Alzheimer's disease (AD) (n = 3345, OR = 2.3, CI: 1.3–4.2, P = 0.004) compared with 9047 controls. Functionally, p.A152T (i) decreases the binding of tau to microtubules and therefore promotes microtubule assembly less efficiently; and (ii) reduces the tendency to form abnormal fibers. However, there is a pronounced increase in the formation of tau oligomers. Importantly, these findings suggest that other regions of the tau protein may be crucial in regulating normal function, as the p.A152 residue is distal to the domains considered responsible for microtubule interactions or aggregation. These data provide both the first genetic evidence and functional studies supporting the role of MAPT p.A152T as a rare risk factor for both FTD-s and AD and the concept that rare variants can increase the risk for relatively common, complex neurodegenerative diseases, but since no clear significance threshold for rare genetic variation has been established, some caution is warranted until the findings are further replicated.
A rare variant in the Triggering Receptor Expressed on Myeloid cells 2 (TREM2) gene has been reported to be a genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease by two independent groups (Odds ratio between 2.9-4.5). Given the key role of TREM2 in the effective phagocytosis of apoptotic neuronal cells by microglia, we hypothesized that dysfunction of TREM2 may play a more generalized role in neurodegeneration. With this in mind we set out to assess the genetic association of the Alzheimer’s disease-related risk variant in TREM2 (rs75932628, p.R47H) with other related neurodegenerative disorders.
The study included 609 patients with frontotemporal dementia, 765 with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, 1493 with Parkinson’s disease, 772 with progressive supranuclear palsy, 448 with ischemic stroke and 1957 controls subjects free of neurodegenerative disease. A significant association was observed for the TREM2 p.R47H substitution in susceptibility to frontotemporal dementia (OR = 5.06; p-value = 0.001) and Parkinson’s disease (OR = 2.67; p-value = 0.026), while no evidence of association with risk of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, progressive supranuclear palsy or ischemic stroke was observed.
Our results suggest that the TREM2 p.R47H substitution is a risk factor for frontotemporal dementia and Parkinson’s disease in addition to Alzheimer’s disease. These findings suggest a more general role for TREM2 dysfunction in neurodegeneration, which could be related to its role in the immune response.
TREM2; Frontotemporal dementia; Parkinson disease; Genetic association
Given the overlap between Parkinson disease and essential tremor, we examined genetic variants in α-synuclein (SNCA) as risk determinants for essential tremor.
Samples from 661 essential tremor subjects and 1,316 control subjects from four participating North American sites were included in this study. Parkinson disease samples (n=427) were compared against controls for two cohorts. Twenty variants were selected for association analysis within the SNCA locus. Individual logistic regression analyses against essential tremor diagnosis and then combined using meta-analysis was run for each variant.
Our results do not show a significant association between variants in the SNCA locus and risk of essential tremor, while the established association of SNCA variants with Parkinson disease risk was observed.
While genetic factors are likely to play a large role in essential tremor pathogenesis our results do not support a role for common SNCA genetic variants in risk for essential tremor.
tremor; essential tremor; association studies in genetics; Parkinson’s disease; parkinsonism; synuclein