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1.  Loss of ability to work and ability to live independently in Parkinson’s Disease 
Parkinsonism & related disorders  2011;18(2):130-135.
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.
PMCID: PMC3977346  PMID: 21975262
Parkinson disease; work ability; independence
2.  CSF1R mutations link POLD and HDLS as a single disease entity 
Neurology  2013;80(11):1033-1040.
Pigmented orthochromatic leukodystrophy (POLD) and hereditary diffuse leukoencephalopathy with axonal spheroids (HDLS) are rare neurodegenerative disorders characterized by cerebral white matter abnormalities, myelin loss, and axonal swellings. The striking overlap of clinical and pathologic features of these disorders suggested a common pathogenesis; however, no genetic or mechanistic link between POLD and HDLS has been established. Recently, we reported that mutations in the colony-stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF1R) gene cause HDLS. In this study, we determined whether CSF1R mutations are also a cause of POLD.
We performed sequencing of CSF1R in 2 pathologically confirmed POLD families. For the largest family (FTD368), a detailed case report was provided and brain samples from 2 affected family members previously diagnosed with POLD were re-evaluated to determine whether they had HDLS features. In vitro functional characterization of wild-type and mutant CSF1R was also performed.
We identified CSF1R mutations in both POLD families: in family 5901, we found c.2297T>C (p.M766T), previously reported by us in HDLS family CA1, and in family FTD368, we identified c.2345G>A (p.R782H), recently reported in a biopsy-proven HDLS case. Immunohistochemical examination in family FTD368 showed the typical neuronal and glial findings of HDLS. Functional analyses of CSF1R mutant p.R782H (identified in this study) and p.M875T (previously observed in HDLS), showed a similar loss of CSF1R autophosphorylation of selected tyrosine residues in the kinase domain for both mutations when compared with wild-type CSF1R.
We provide the first genetic and mechanistic evidence that POLD and HDLS are a single clinicopathologic entity.
PMCID: PMC3653204  PMID: 23408870
3.  LINGO1 and LINGO2 variants are associated with essential tremor and Parkinson disease 
Neurogenetics  2010;11(4):401-408.
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.
PMCID: PMC3930084  PMID: 20369371
Essential tremor; Parkinson disease; LINGO1; LINGO2; Genetic association
4.  Genetics of Parkinson disease and essential tremor 
Current opinion in neurology  2010;23(4):388-393.
Purpose of review
Elucidating the genetic background of Parkinson disease and essential tremor is crucial to understand the pathogenesis and improve diagnostic and therapeutic strategies.
Recent findings
A number of approaches have been applied including familial and association studies, and studies of gene expression profiles to identify genes involved in susceptibility to Parkinson disease. These studies have nominated a number of candidate Parkinson disease genes and novel loci including Omi/HtrA2, GIGYF2, FGF20, PDXK, EIF4G1 and PARK16. A recent notable finding has been the confirmation for the role of heterozygous mutations in glucocerebrosidase (GBA) as risk factors for Parkinson disease. Finally, association studies have nominated genetic variation in the leucine-rich repeat and Ig containing 1 gene (LINGO1) as a risk for both Parkinson disease and essential tremor, providing the first genetic evidence of a link between the two conditions.
Although undoubtedly genes remain to be identified, considerable progress has been achieved in the understanding of the genetic basis of Parkinson disease. This same effort is now required for essential tremor. The use of next-generation high-throughput sequencing and genotyping technologies will help pave the way for future insight leading to advances in diagnosis, prevention and cure.
PMCID: PMC3930090  PMID: 20489616
essential tremor; genetics; LINGO1; PARK16; Parkinson disease
5.  Depression in Parkinson’s Disease 
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.
PMCID: PMC3907778  PMID: 20169775
6.  Niemann-Pick C Disease Gene Mutations and Age-Related Neurodegenerative Disorders 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(12):e82879.
Niemann-Pick type C (NPC) disease is a rare autosomal-recessively inherited lysosomal storage disorder caused by mutations in NPC1 (95%) or NPC2. Given the highly variable phenotype, diagnosis is challenging and particularly late-onset forms with predominantly neuropsychiatric presentations are likely underdiagnosed. Pathophysiologically, genetic alterations compromising the endosomal/lysosomal system are linked with age-related neurodegenerative disorders. We sought to examine a possible association of rare sequence variants in NPC1 and NPC2 with Parkinson's disease (PD), frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), and to genetically determine the proportion of potentially misdiagnosed NPC patients in these neurodegenerative conditions. By means of high-resolution melting, we screened the coding regions of NPC1 and NPC2 for rare genetic variation in a homogenous German sample of patients clinically diagnosed with PD (n = 563), FTLD (n = 133) and PSP (n = 94), and 846 population-based controls. The frequencies of rare sequence variants in NPC1/2 did not differ significantly between patients and controls. Disease-associated NPC1/2 mutations were found in six PD patients (1.1%) and seven control subjects (0.8%), but not in FTLD or PSP. All rare variation was detected in the heterozygous state and no compound heterozygotes were observed. Our data do not support the hypothesis that rare NPC1/2 variants confer susceptibility for PD, FTLD, or PSP in the German population. Misdiagnosed NPC patients were not present in our samples. However, further assessment of NPC disease genes in age-related neurodegeneration is warranted.
PMCID: PMC3875432  PMID: 24386122
7.  Rare Variants in PLXNA4 and Parkinson’s Disease 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(11):e79145.
Approximately 20% of individuals with Parkinson’s disease (PD) report a positive family history. Yet, a large portion of causal and disease-modifying variants is still unknown. We used exome sequencing in two affected individuals from a family with late-onset familial PD followed by frequency assessment in 975 PD cases and 1014 ethnically-matched controls and linkage analysis to identify potentially causal variants. Based on the predicted penetrance and the frequencies, a variant in PLXNA4 proved to be the best candidate and PLXNA4 was screened for additional variants in 862 PD cases and 940 controls, revealing an excess of rare non-synonymous coding variants in PLXNA4 in individuals with PD. Although we cannot conclude that the variant in PLXNA4 is indeed the causative variant, these findings are interesting in the light of a surfacing role of axonal guidance mechanisms in neurodegenerative disorders but, at the same time, highlight the difficulties encountered in the study of rare variants identified by next-generation sequencing in diseases with autosomal dominant or complex patterns of inheritance.
PMCID: PMC3823607  PMID: 24244438
8.  NOTCH3 Variants and Risk of Ischemic Stroke 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(9):e75035.
Mutations within the NOTCH3 gene cause cerebral autosomal dominant arteriopathy with subcortical infarcts and leukoencephalopathy (CADASIL). CADASIL mutations appear to be restricted to the first twenty-four exons, resulting in the gain or loss of a cysteine amino acid. The role of other exonic NOTCH3 variation not involving cysteine residues and mutations in exons 25-33 in ischemic stroke remains unresolved.
All 33 exons of NOTCH3 were sequenced in 269 Caucasian probands from the Siblings With Ischemic Stroke Study (SWISS), a 70-center North American affected sibling pair study and 95 healthy Caucasian control subjects. Variants identified by sequencing in the SWISS probands were then tested for association with ischemic stroke using US Caucasian controls collected at the Mayo Clinic (n=654), and further assessed in a Caucasian (n=802) and African American (n=298) patient-control series collected through the Ischemic Stroke Genetics Study (ISGS).
Sequencing of the 269 SWISS probands identified one (0.4%) with small vessel type stroke carrying a known CADASIL mutation (p.R558C; Exon 11). Of the 19 common NOTCH3 variants identified, the only variant significantly associated with ischemic stroke after multiple testing adjustment was p.R1560P (rs78501403; Exon 25) in the combined SWISS and ISGS Caucasian series (Odds Ratio [OR] 0.50, P=0.0022) where presence of the minor allele was protective against ischemic stroke. Although only significant prior to adjustment for multiple testing, p.T101T (rs3815188; Exon 3) was associated with an increased risk of small-vessel stroke (OR: 1.56, P=0.008) and p.P380P (rs61749020; Exon 7) was associated with decreased risk of large-vessel stroke (OR: 0.35, P=0.047) in Caucasians. No significant associations were observed in the small African American series.
Cysteine-affecting NOTCH3 mutations are rare in patients with typical ischemic stroke, however our observation that common NOTCH3 variants may be associated with risk of ischemic stroke warrants further study.
PMCID: PMC3781028  PMID: 24086431
9.  MRI characteristics and scoring in HDLS due to CSF1R gene mutations 
Neurology  2012;79(6):566-574.
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.
PMCID: PMC3413763  PMID: 22843259
10.  Prevalence and Burden of Gait Disorders in Elderly Men and Women Aged 60–97 Years: A Population-Based Study 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e69627.
Although gait disorders are common in the elderly, the prevalence and overall burden of these disorders in the general community is not well defined.
In a cross-sectional investigation of the population-based Bruneck Study cohort, 488 community-residing elderly aged 60–97 years underwent a thorough neurological assessment including a standardized gait evaluation. Gait disorders were classified according to an accepted scheme and their associations to falls, neuropsychological measures, and quality of life were explored.
Overall, 32.2% (95% confidence interval [CI] 28.2%–36.4%) of participants presented with impaired gait. Prevalence increased with age (p<0.001), but 38.3% (95%CI 30.1%–47.3%) of the subjects aged 80 years or older still had a normally preserved gait. A total of 24.0% (95%CI 20.4%–28.0%) manifested neurological gait disorders, 17.4% (14.3%–21.0%) non-neurological gait problems, and 9.2% (6.9%–12.1%) a combination of both. While there was no association of neurological gait disorders with gender, non-neurological gait disorders were more frequent in women (p = 0.012). Within the group of neurological gait disorders 69.2% (95%CI 60.3%–76.9%) had a single distinct entity and 30.8% (23.1%–39.7%) had multiple neurological causes for gait impairment. Gait disorders had a significant negative impact on quantitative gait measures, but only neurological gait disorders were associated with recurrent falls (odds ratio 3.3; 95%CI 1.4–7.5; p = 0.005 for single and 7.1; 2.7–18.7; p<0.001 for multiple neurological gait disorders). Finally, we detected a significant association of gait disorders, in particular neurological gait disorders, with depressed mood, cognitive dysfunction, and compromised quality of life.
Gait disorders are common in the general elderly population and are associated with reduced mobility. Neurological gait disorders in particular are associated with recurrent falls, lower cognitive function, depressed mood, and diminished quality of life.
PMCID: PMC3722115  PMID: 23894511
11.  GTP Cyclohydrolase I and Tyrosine Hydroxylase Gene Mutations in Familial and Sporadic Dopa-Responsive Dystonia Patients 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e65215.
Dopa-responsive dystonia (DRD) is a rare inherited dystonia that responds very well to levodopa treatment. Genetic mutations of GTP cyclohydrolase I (GCH1) or tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) are disease-causing mutations in DRD. To evaluate the genotype-phenotype correlations and diagnostic values of GCH1 and TH mutation screening in DRD patients, we carried out a combined study of familial and sporadic cases in Chinese Han subjects. We collected 23 subjects, 8 patients with DRD, 5 unaffected family members, and 10 sporadic cases. We used PCR to sequence all exons and splicing sites of the GCH1 and TH genes. Three novel heterozygous GCH1 mutations (Tyr75Cys, Ala98Val, and Ile135Thr) were identified in three DRD pedigrees. We failed to identify any GCH1 or TH mutation in two affected sisters. Three symptom-free male GCH1 mutation carriers were found in two DRD pedigrees. For those DRD siblings that shared the same GCH1 mutation, symptoms and age of onset varied. In 10 sporadic cases, only two heterozygous TH mutations (Ser19Cys and Gly397Arg) were found in two subjects with unknown pathogenicity. No GCH1 and TH mutation was found in 40 unrelated normal Han Chinese controls. GCH1 mutation is the main etiology of familial DRD. Three novel GCH1 mutations were identified in this study. Genetic heterogeneity and incomplete penetrance were quite common in DRD patients, especially in sporadic cases. Genetic screening may help establish the diagnosis of DRD; however, a negative GCH1 and TH mutation test would not exclude the diagnosis.
PMCID: PMC3675154  PMID: 23762320
12.  An evaluation of the impact of MAPT, SNCA and APOE on the burden of Alzheimer and Lewy body pathology 
The study investigates the effects of genetic factors on the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Lewy body (LB) diseases, including Parkinson’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies. A multicenter autopsy series (762 brain samples) with AD, LB or vascular pathology was examined. We assessed the effects of the tau gene (MAPT) H1 haplotype, the H1-specific SNP rs242557, APOE and the α-synuclein gene (SNCA) 3′UTR SNP rs356165 on the burden of AD and LB pathology. We counted neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) in four brain regions, senile plaques (SPs) in five and LBs in four. We also documented Braak NFT stage, brain weight and presence of vascular pathology. MAPT H1 associated with lower counts of NFTs in the middle frontal (P<0.001) and inferior parietal (P=0.005) cortices, and also with lower counts of SPs in the motor cortex (P=0.001). Associations of MAPT H1 with increased LB counts in the middle frontal cortex (P=0.011) and inferior parietal cortex (P=0.033) were observed but were not significant after multiple testing adjustment. The APOE ε4 allele was strongly associated with overall Alzheimer type pathology (all P≤0.001). SNCA rs356165 and the MAPT H1-specific SNP rs242557 did not associate with AD or LB pathology. This study shows for the first time that MAPT H1 is associated with reduced Alzheimer type pathology, which could have important implications for the understanding of disease mechanisms and their genetic determinants.
PMCID: PMC3623699  PMID: 22291217
MAPT; SNCA; APOE; Alzheimer pathology; Lewy body
13.  A Proposal for a Comprehensive Grading of Parkinson's Disease Severity Combining Motor and Non-Motor Assessments: Meeting an Unmet Need 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e57221.
Non-motor symptoms are present in Parkinson's disease (PD) and a key determinant of quality of life. The Non-motor Symptoms Scale (NMSS) is a validated scale that allows quantifying frequency and severity (burden) of NMS. We report a proposal for using NMSS scores to determine levels of NMS burden (NMSB) and to complete PD patient classification.
This was an observational, cross-sectional international study of 935 consecutive patients. Using a distribution of NMSS scores by quartiles, a classification based on levels from 0 (no NMSB at all) to 4 (very severe NMSB) was obtained and its relation with Hoehn and Yahr (HY) staging, motor and health-related quality of life scales was analyzed. Concordance between NMSB levels and grouping based on clinician's global impression of severity, using categorical regression, was determined. Disability and HRQoL predictors were identified by multiple regression models.
The distribution of motor and QoL scales scores by HY and NMSB levels was significantly discriminative. The difference in the classification of cases for both methods, HY and NMSB, was significant (gamma = 0.45; ASE = 0.032). Concordance between NMSB and global severity-based levels from categorical regression was 91.8%, (kappaw = 0.97). NMS score was predictor of disability and QoL.
Current clinical practice does not address a need for inclusion of non-motor scores in routine assessment of PD in spite of the overwhelming influence of NMS on disability and quality of life. Our data overcome the problems of “pure motor assessment” and we propose a combined approach with addition of NMSB levels to standard motor assessments.
PMCID: PMC3584126  PMID: 23468940
14.  C9ORF72 Repeat Expansion in Australian and Spanish Frontotemporal Dementia Patients 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56899.
A hexanucleotide repeat expansion in C9ORF72 has been established as a common cause of frontotemporal dementia (FTD). However, the minimum repeat number necessary for disease pathogenesis is not known. The aims of our study were to determine the frequency of the C9ORF72 repeat expansion in two FTD patient collections (one Australian and one Spanish, combined n = 190), to examine C9ORF72 expansion allele length in a subset of FTD patients, and to examine C9ORF72 allele length in ‘non-expansion’ patients (those with <30 repeats). The C9ORF72 repeat expansion was detected in 5–17% of patients (21–41% of familial FTD patients). For one family, the expansion was present in the proband but absent in the mother, who was diagnosed with dementia at age 68. No association was found between C9ORF72 non-expanded allele length and age of onset and in the Spanish sample mean allele length was shorter in cases than in controls. Southern blotting analysis revealed that one of the nine ‘expansion-positive’ patients examined, who had neuropathologically confirmed frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TDP-43 pathology, harboured an ‘intermediate’ allele with a mean size of only ∼65 repeats. Our study indicates that the C9ORF72 repeat expansion accounts for a significant proportion of Australian and Spanish FTD cases. However, C9ORF72 allele length does not influence the age at onset of ‘non-expansion’ FTD patients in the series examined. Expansion of the C9ORF72 allele to as little as ∼65 repeats may be sufficient to cause disease.
PMCID: PMC3577667  PMID: 23437264
15.  Association between GRN rs5848 Polymorphism and Parkinson′s Disease in Taiwanese Population 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(1):e54448.
A single nucleotide polymorphism GRN rs5848 (3′UTR+78 C>T) was reported to alter the risk for frontotemporal lobar degeneration. Herein, we investigated the effect of GRN rs5848 on the risk of Parkinson’s disease (PD) by genotyping 573 Taiwanese patients with PD and 490 age-matched control subjects. Compared to subjects with CC genotype, those with TT genotype had a 1.58-fold increased risk of PD (95% CI: 1.77∼2.34, P = 0.021). PD patients demonstrate a higher frequency of T allele (37.2%) than controls (32.2%; odds ratio [OR] = 1.24, 95% CI: 1.04∼1.49, P = 0.017). This susceptibility was particularly observed in female subjects, in which TT genotype had a 2.16-fold increased risk of PD as compared with controls(95% CI: 1.24∼3.78, P = 0.006). The frequency of T allele (39.3%) in female PD patients was higher than in female control subjects (31.1%; OR = 1.43, CI: 1.11∼1.87, P = 0.007). No association was observed between GRN rs5848 and susceptibility in male subjects. These findings show that the GRN rs5848 TT genotype and T allele are risk factors for female Taiwanese patients with PD.
PMCID: PMC3546937  PMID: 23342160
16.  α-Synuclein Levels in Blood Plasma from LRRK2 Mutation Carriers 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(12):e52312.
The diagnosis of Parkinson’s disease (PD) remains primarily a clinical issue, based mainly on phenotypic patterns. The identification of biomarkers capable of permitting the preclinical detection of PD is critically needed. α-Synuclein is a key protein in PD, with missense and multiplication mutations in the gene encoding α-synuclein (SNCA) having been reported in familial cases of PD, and accumulation of the protein identified in Lewy bodies (LBs) and Lewy neurites (LNs) in affected brain regions. With the objective of validating the use of α-synuclein as a clinical or progressive biomarker in an accessible tissue, we used an enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA) to measure α-synuclein levels in the peripheral blood plasma of idiopathic PD and LRRK2 mutation carrier patients and compared our findings with healthy control subjects. Compared to healthy controls, we found a significant decrease in plasma total α-synuclein levels in idiopathic PD (iPD) patients (n = 134, p = 0.010). However, the reduction was less significant in patients who were LRRK2 mutation carriers (n = 32, p = 0.133). This lack of significance could be due to the small number of individuals employed in this group. No predictive value of total α-synuclein in the diagnosis of PD was found in a receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curve analysis. Although this is a pilot study requiring corroboration on a larger cohort of patients, our results highlight the possible use of plasma α-synuclein as a biomarker for PD.
PMCID: PMC3531490  PMID: 23300640
17.  Mutations in the colony stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF1R) cause hereditary diffuse leukoencephalopathy with spheroids 
Nature Genetics  2011;44(2):200-205.
Hereditary diffuse leukoencephalopathy with spheroids (HDLS) is an autosomal dominantly inherited central nervous system white matter disease with variable clinical presentations including personality and behavioral changes, dementia, depression, parkinsonism, seizures, and others1,2. We combined genome-wide linkage analysis with exome sequencing and identified 14 different mutations affecting the tyrosine kinase domain of the colony stimulating factor receptor 1 (encoded by CSF1R) in 14 families affected by HDLS. In one kindred, the de novo occurrence of the mutation was confirmed. Follow-up sequencing analyses identified an additional CSF1R mutation in a patient clinically diagnosed with corticobasal syndrome (CBS). In vitro, CSF-1 stimulation resulted in the rapid autophosphorylation of selected tyrosine-residues in the kinase domain of wild-type but not mutant CSF1R, suggesting that HDLS may result from a partial loss of CSF1R function. Since CSF1R is a critical mediator of microglial proliferation and differentiation in the brain, our findings suggest an important role for microglial dysfunction in HDLS pathogenesis.
PMCID: PMC3267847  PMID: 22197934
18.  H1-MAPT and the Risk for Familial Essential Tremor 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e41581.
The most frequent MAPT H1 haplotype is associated with the risk for developing progressive supranuclear palsy and other neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease. A recent report suggests that the MAPT H1 is associated with the risk for developing essential tremor. We wanted to confirm this association in a different population. We analyzed the distribution of allelic and genotype frequencies of rs1052553, which is an H1/H2 SNP, in 200 subjects with familial ET and 291 healthy controls. rs1052553 genotype and allelic frequencies did not differ significantly between subjects with ET and controls and were unrelated with the age at onset of tremor or gender, and with the presence of head, voice, chin, and tongue tremor. Our study suggests that the MAPT H1 rs1052553 is not associated with the risk for developing familial ET in the Spanish population.
PMCID: PMC3402423  PMID: 22911817
19.  LRRK2 A419V Is Not Associated with Parkinson's Disease in Different Chinese Populations 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(7):e36123.
It has been suggested that a common LRRK2 polymorphic variant (A419V (rs34594498 C >T)) may be a risk factor among Asians (especially in Taiwan). In this study, we examined this variant in a larger and independent Taiwan cohort. We found the frequency of the variant (A419V) to be very rare in our Taiwan PD and controls (?0.6%). Further studies were conducted in two other Chinese populations (Singapore and China), comprising of a total of 3004 subjects including 1517 PD patients and 1487 control subjects. However, our multi-center Chinese study revealed that the frequency of the variant was rare (?0.4%) and was not associated with risk of PD, suggesting that the variant is not a major risk factor for PD among Chinese, at least in our study population.
PMCID: PMC3393727  PMID: 22807999
20.  A Deleterious Mutation in DNAJC6 Encoding the Neuronal-Specific Clathrin-Uncoating Co-Chaperone Auxilin, Is Associated with Juvenile Parkinsonism 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e36458.
Parkinson disease is caused by neuronal loss in the substantia nigra which manifests by abnormality of movement, muscle tone, and postural stability. Several genes have been implicated in the pathogenesis of Parkinson disease, but the underlying molecular basis is still unknown for ∼70% of the patients. Using homozygosity mapping and whole exome sequencing we identified a deleterious mutation in DNAJC6 in two patients with juvenile Parkinsonism. The mutation was associated with abnormal transcripts and marked reduced DNAJC6 mRNA level. DNAJC6 encodes the HSP40 Auxilin, a protein which is selectively expressed in neurons and confers specificity to the ATPase activity of its partner Hcs70 in clathrin uncoating. In Auxilin null mice it was previously shown that the abnormally increased retention of assembled clathrin on vesicles and in empty cages leads to impaired synaptic vesicle recycling and perturbed clathrin mediated endocytosis. Endocytosis function, studied by transferring uptake, was normal in fibroblasts from our patients, likely because of the presence of another J-domain containing partner which co-chaperones Hsc70-mediated uncoating activity in non-neuronal cells. The present report underscores the importance of the endocytic/lysosomal pathway in the pathogenesis of Parkinson disease and other forms of Parkinsonism.
PMCID: PMC3341348  PMID: 22563501
21.  Concordant Signaling Pathways Produced by Pesticide Exposure in Mice Correspond to Pathways Identified in Human Parkinson's Disease 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(5):e36191.
Parkinson's disease (PD) is a neurodegenerative disease in which the etiology of 90 percent of the patients is unknown. Pesticide exposure is a major risk factor for PD, and paraquat (PQ), pyridaben (PY) and maneb (MN) are amongst the most widely used pesticides. We studied mRNA expression using transcriptome sequencing (RNA-Seq) in the ventral midbrain (VMB) and striatum (STR) of PQ, PY and paraquat+maneb (MNPQ) treated mice, followed by pathway analysis. We found concordance of signaling pathways between the three pesticide models in both the VMB and STR as well as concordance in these two brain areas. The concordant signaling pathways with relevance to PD pathogenesis were e.g. axonal guidance signaling, Wnt/β-catenin signaling, as well as pathways not previously linked to PD, e.g. basal cell carcinoma, human embryonic stem cell pluripotency and role of macrophages, fibroblasts and endothelial cells in rheumatoid arthritis. Human PD pathways previously identified by expression analysis, concordant with VMB pathways identified in our study were axonal guidance signaling, Wnt/β-catenin signaling, IL-6 signaling, ephrin receptor signaling, TGF-β signaling, PPAR signaling and G-protein coupled receptor signaling. Human PD pathways concordant with the STR pathways in our study were Wnt/β-catenin signaling, axonal guidance signaling and G-protein coupled receptor signaling. Peroxisome proliferator activated receptor delta (Ppard) and G-Protein Coupled Receptors (GPCRs) were common genes in VMB and STR identified by network analysis. In conclusion, the pesticides PQ, PY and MNPQ elicit common signaling pathways in the VMB and STR in mice, which are concordant with known signaling pathways identified in human PD, suggesting that these pathways contribute to the pathogenesis of idiopathic PD. The analysis of these networks and pathways may therefore lead to improved understanding of disease pathogenesis, and potential novel therapeutic targets.
PMCID: PMC3341364  PMID: 22563483
22.  Effects of Dopamine on Sensitivity to Social Bias in Parkinson's Disease 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(3):e32889.
Patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) sometimes develop impulsive compulsive behaviours (ICBs) due to their dopaminergic medication. We compared 26 impulsive and 27 non-impulsive patients with PD, both on and off medication, on a task that examined emotion bias in decision making. No group differences were detected, but patients on medication were less biased by emotions than patients off medication and the strongest effects were seen in patients with ICBs. PD patients with ICBs on medication also showed more learning from negative feedback and less from positive feedback, whereas off medication they showed the opposite effect.
PMCID: PMC3298454  PMID: 22427905
23.  Abnormal Reorganization of Functional Cortical Small-World Networks in Focal Hand Dystonia 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(12):e28682.
We investigated the large-scale functional cortical connectivity network in focal hand dystonia (FHD) patients using graph theoretic measures to assess efficiency. High-resolution EEGs were recorded in 15 FHD patients and 15 healthy volunteers at rest and during a simple sequential finger tapping task. Mutual information (MI) values of wavelet coefficients were estimated to create an association matrix between EEG electrodes, and to produce a series of adjacency matrices or graphs, G, by thresholding with network cost. Efficiency measures of small-world networks were assessed. As a result, we found that FHD patients have economical small-world properties in their brain functional networks in the alpha and beta bands. During a motor task, in the beta band network, FHD patients have decreased efficiency of small-world networks, whereas healthy volunteers increase efficiency. Reduced efficient beta band network in FHD patients during the task was consistently observed in global efficiency, cost-efficiency, and maximum cost-efficiency. This suggests that the beta band functional cortical network of FHD patients is reorganized even during a task that does not induce dystonic symptoms, representing a loss of long-range communication and abnormal functional integration in large-scale brain functional cortical networks. Moreover, negative correlations between efficiency measures and duration of disease were found, indicating that the longer duration of disease, the less efficient the beta band network in FHD patients. In regional efficiency analysis, FHD patients at rest have high regional efficiency at supplementary motor cortex (SMA) compared with healthy volunteers; however, it is diminished during the motor task, possibly reflecting abnormal inhibition in FHD patients. The present study provides the first evidence with graph theory for abnormal reconfiguration of brain functional networks in FHD during motor task.
PMCID: PMC3236757  PMID: 22174867
24.  Novel Pathogenic Lrrk2 p.Asn1437His substitution in familial Parkinson’s disease 
Genealogical investigation of a large Norwegian family (F04) with autosomal dominant parkinsonism has identified 18 affected family members over four generations. Genetic studies have revealed a novel pathogenic LRRK2 mutation c.4309 C>A (p.Asn1437His) that co-segregates with disease manifestation (LOD=3.15, θ=0). Affected carriers have an early age at onset (48 ± 7.7 SD years) and are clinically asymmetric and levodopa-responsive. The variant was absent in 623 Norwegian control subjects. Further screening of patients from the same population identified one additional affected carrier (1/692) with familial parkinsonism who shares the same haplotype. The mutation is located within the Roc domain of the protein and enhances GTP-binding and kinase activity, further implicating these activities as the mechanisms that underlie LRRK2-linked parkinsonism.
PMCID: PMC2970614  PMID: 20669305
LRRK2; Parkinson’s disease; genetic; kinase
25.  Glucocerebrosidase mutations are not a common risk factor for Parkinson disease in North Africa 
Neuroscience letters  2009;477(2):57-60.
Mutations in the Glucocerebrosidase gene (GBA) have recently been associated with an increased risk of Parkinson disease (PD). GBA mutations have been observed to be particularly prevalent in the Ashkenazi Jewish population. Interestingly, this population also has a high incidence of the Lrrk2 p.G2019S mutation which is similar in North African Arab-Berber populations. Herein, our sequencing of the GBA gene, in 33 North African Arab-Berber familial parkinsonism probands, identified two novel mutations in three individuals (p.K-26R and p.K186R). Segregation analysis of these two variants did not support a pathogenic role. Genotyping of p.K-26R, p.K186R and the common p.N370S in an ethnically matched series consisting of 395 patients with PD and 372 control subjects did not show a statistically significant association (P>0.05). The p.N370S mutation was only identified in 1 sporadic patient with PD and 3 control subjects indicating that the frequency of this mutation in the North African Arab-Berber population is much lower than that observed in Ashkenazi Jews, and therefore arose in the latter after expansion of the Lrrk2 p.G2019S variant in North Africa.
PMCID: PMC2970621  PMID: 19945510
Parkinson disease; Gaucher disease; genetics

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