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1.  Novel SPAST deletion and reduced DPY30 expression in a Spastic Paraplegia type 4 kindred 
BMC Medical Genetics  2014;15:39.
Background
The hereditary spastic paraplegias (HSPs) are pleiomorphic disorders of motor pathway and a large number of affected genes have been discovered. Yet, mutations in SPG4/SPAST represent the most frequent molecular etiology in autosomal dominant (AD) patients and sporadic cases. We describe a large, AD-HSP Sardinian family where 5 out of several living members harbored a novel deletion affecting also the 5′UTR of SPAST and resulting in reduced expression of DPY30, the gene located upstream SPAST in a head-to-head manner.
Case presentation
A 54-year-old woman manifested leg stiffness at age 39 and required a cane to walk at age 50. Neurological examination disclosed mild spasticity and weakness in the legs, hyperreflexia in all limbs, and bilateral Babinski sign. She also complained of urinary urgency, but no additional neurological symptoms or signs were detected at examination. The clinical examination of 24 additional relatives disclosed three further affected individuals, two men and one woman. In the four symptomatic patients the initial manifestations were walking abnormalities and leg stiffness with a mean age at onset (SD) of 46.75 (5.44) years (range 39–51). The mean disease duration was 13.2 (13.4) years (range 6–35), and it correlated well with clinical severity (SPRS score) (r = 0.975, p = 0.005). One patient was confined to bed and displayed knee and ankle contractures, another case needed a cane to walk, and two individuals were able to walk without aids. Interestingly, a patient had also had a miscarriage during her first pregnancy.
Gene testing revealed an heterozygous deletion spanning from the 5′-UTR to intron 4 of SPAST in the affected individuals and in one clinically unaffected woman. In three affected patients, the deletion also determined low mRNA levels of SPAST and DPY30, a component of the Set1-like multiprotein histone methyltransferase complex located upstream, head-to-head with SPAST.
Conclusion
Together with data described in a Japanese family, our findings seem to suggest that genes close to spastin might be candidates in modulating the clinical phenotype. This report endorses future research on the role of neighboring genes as potential players in SPG4 disease variability.
doi:10.1186/1471-2350-15-39
PMCID: PMC3974227  PMID: 24690193
SPG4; DPY30; Genetic modifier; Deletion
2.  Variants within the immunoregulatory CBLB gene are associated with Multiple Sclerosis 
Nature genetics  2010;42(6):495-497.
A genome wide association scan of ~6.6 million genotyped or imputed variants in 882 Sardinian Multiple Sclerosis (MS) cases and 872 controls suggested association of CBLB gene variants with disease, which was confirmed in 1,775 cases and 2,005 controls (overall P =1.60 × 10-10). CBLB encodes a negative regulator of adaptive immune responses and mice lacking the orthologue are prone to experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, the animal model of MS.
doi:10.1038/ng.584
PMCID: PMC3786343  PMID: 20453840
3.  C9ORF72 hexanucleotide repeat expansions in the Italian sporadic ALS population 
Neurobiology of Aging  2012;33(8):1848.e15-1848.e20.
It has been recently reported that a large proportion of patients with familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (familial ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD) are associated with a hexanucleotide (GGGGCC) repeat expansion in the first intron of C9ORF72. We have assessed 1,757 Italian sporadic ALS cases, 133 from Sardinia, 101 from Sicily, and 1,523 from mainland Italy. Sixty (3.7%) of 1,624 mainland Italians and Sicilians and 9 (6.8%) of the 133 Sardinian sporadic ALS cases carried the pathogenic repeat expansion. None of the 619 regionally-matched control samples (1,238 chromosomes) carried the expansion. Twenty-five cases (36.2%) had behavioral FTD in addition to ALS. FTD or unspecified dementia was also detected in 19 pedigrees (27.5%) in first-degree relatives of ALS patients. Cases carrying the C9ORF72 hexanucleotide expansion survived one year less than cases who did not carry this mutation. In conclusion, we found that C9ORF72 hexanucloetide repeat expansions represents a sizeable proportion of apparent sporadic ALS in the Italian and Sardinian population, representing by far the commonest mutation in Italy and the second more common in Sardinia.
doi:10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2012.02.011
PMCID: PMC3372681  PMID: 22418734
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; C9ORF72; frontotemporal dementia; survival
4.  Role Preferences of People with Multiple Sclerosis: Image-Revised, Computerized Self-Administered Version of the Control Preference Scale 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(6):e66127.
Background
The Control Preference Scale (CPS) is the most frequently used measure of patients’ preferred roles in treatment decisions. We revised the original CPS and developed a new computerized patient self-administered version (eCPS). We used the eCPS to assess role preferences, and their determinants, in Italian and German people with multiple sclerosis (MS).
Methods
New cartoons were produced, based on MS health professional and patient input/feedback and previous findings, and pilot tested on 26 Italian and German MS patients. eCPS acceptability and reliability (weighted kappa statistic, wK) in comparison to the original tool, was determined in 92 MS patients who received both CPS versions in random order.
Results
The new cartoons were well accepted and easily interpreted by patients, who reported they based their choices mainly on the text and considered the images of secondary importance. eCPS reliability was moderate (wK 0.53, 95% confidence interval [CI] 0.40–0.65) and similar to the test-retest reliability of face-to-face administration assessed in a previous publication (wK 0.65, 95% CI 0.45–0.81). Higher education (odds ratio [OR] 3.74, 95% CI 1.00–14.05) and German nationality (OR 10.30, 95% CI 3.10–34.15) were associated with preference for an active role in the logistic model.
Conclusions
The newly devised eCPS was well received and considered easy to use by MS patients. Reliability was in line with that of the original version. Role preference appears affected by cultural characteristics and (borderline statistical significance) education.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0066127
PMCID: PMC3688863  PMID: 23823627
5.  Decision-Making in Multiple Sclerosis Consultations in Italy: Third Observer and Patient Assessments 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(4):e60721.
Objective
To assess decision-making in multiple sclerosis (MS) from third observer and patient perspectives.
Method
Audio recordings of first-ever consultations with a participating physician (88 outpatients, 10 physicians) at four tertiary MS care clinics in Italy, were rated by a third observer using the Observing Patient Involvement in Shared Decision Making (OPTION) and by patients using the Perceived Involvement in Care Scale (PICS).
Results
Mean patient age was 37.5, 66% were women, 72% had MS, and 28% had possible MS or other disease. Mean PICS subscale scores (range 0 poor, 100 best possible) were 71.9 (SD 24.3) for "physician facilitation" (PICS-F); 74.6 (SD 22.9) for "patient information exchange" (PICS-I); and only 22.5 (SD 16.2) for "patient decision making" (PICS-DM). Mean OPTION total score (0 poor, 100 best possible) was 29.6 (SD 10.3). Poorest OPTION scores were found for items assessing “preferred patient approach to receiving information” and “preferred patient level of involvement.” Highest scores were for “clinician drawing attention to identified problem”, “indicating need for decision making,” and “need to review the decision.” Consultation time, woman physician, patient-physician gender concordance and PICS-F were associated with higher OPTION total score; older physician and second opinion consultation were associated with lower OPTION score.
Conclusions
In line with findings in other settings, our third observer findings indicated limited patient involvement abilities of MS physicians during first consultations. Patient perceptions of physician skills were better than third observers’, although they correlated. Consultations with women physicians, and younger physicians, were associated with higher third observer and patient-based scores. Our findings reveal a need to empower Italian MS physicians with better communication and shared decision-making skills, and show in particular that attention to MS patient preferences for reception of information and involvement in health decisions, need to be improved.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0060721
PMCID: PMC3614559  PMID: 23565270
6.  Risk of Guillain-Barré syndrome after 2010–2011 influenza vaccination 
European Journal of Epidemiology  2013;28(5):433-444.
Influenza vaccination has been implicated in Guillain Barré Syndrome (GBS) although the evidence for this link is controversial. A case–control study was conducted between October 2010 and May 2011 in seven Italian Regions to explore the relation between influenza vaccination and GBS. The study included 176 GBS incident cases aged ≥18 years from 86 neurological centers. Controls were selected among patients admitted for acute conditions to the Emergency Department of the same hospital as cases. Each control was matched to a case by sex, age, Region and admission date. Two different analyses were conducted: a matched case–control analysis and a self-controlled case series analysis (SCCS). Case–control analysis included 140 cases matched to 308 controls. The adjusted matched odds ratio (OR) for GBS occurrence within 6 weeks after influenza vaccination was 3.8 (95 % CI: 1.3, 10.5). A much stronger association with gastrointestinal infections (OR = 23.8; 95 % CI 7.3, 77.6) and influenza-like illness or upper respiratory tract infections (OR = 11.5; 95 % CI 5.6, 23.5) was highlighted. The SCCS analysis included all 176 GBS cases. Influenza vaccination was associated with GBS, with a relative risk of 2.1 (95 % CI 1.1, 3.9). According to these results the attributable risk in adults ranges from two to five GBS cases per 1,000,000 vaccinations.
doi:10.1007/s10654-013-9797-8
PMCID: PMC3672511  PMID: 23543123
Influenza vaccination; Guillain-Barrè Syndrome; Case–control study; Self controlled case series
7.  Clinical characteristics of patients with familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis carrying the pathogenic GGGGCC hexanucleotide repeat expansion of C9ORF72 
Brain  2012;135(3):784-793.
A large hexanucleotide (GGGGCC) repeat expansion in the first intron of C9ORF72, a gene located on chromosome 9p21, has been recently reported to be responsible for ∼40% of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis cases of European ancestry. The aim of the current article was to describe the phenotype of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis cases carrying the expansion by providing a detailed clinical description of affected cases from representative multi-generational kindreds, and by analysing the age of onset, gender ratio and survival in a large cohort of patients with familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. We collected DNA and analysed phenotype data for 141 index Italian familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis cases (21 of Sardinian ancestry) and 41 German index familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis cases. Pathogenic repeat expansions were detected in 45 (37.5%) patients from mainland Italy, 12 (57.1%) patients of Sardinian ancestry and nine (22.0%) of the 41 German index familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis cases. The disease was maternally transmitted in 27 (49.1%) pedigrees and paternally transmitted in 28 (50.9%) pedigrees (P = non-significant). On average, children developed disease 7.0 years earlier than their parents [children: 55.8 years (standard deviation 7.9), parents: 62.8 (standard deviation 10.9); P = 0.003]. Parental phenotype influenced the type of clinical symptoms manifested by the child: of the 13 cases where the affected parent had an amyotrophic lateral sclerosis–frontotemporal dementia or frontotemporal dementia, the affected child also developed amyotrophic lateral sclerosis–frontotemporal dementia in nine cases. When compared with patients carrying mutations of other amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-related genes, those with C9ORF72 expansion had commonly a bulbar onset (42.2% compared with 25.0% among non-C9ORF72 expansion cases, P = 0.03) and cognitive impairment (46.7% compared with 9.1% among non-C9ORF72 expansion cases, P = 0.0001). Median survival from symptom onset among cases carrying C9ORF72 repeat expansion was 3.2 years lower than that of patients carrying TARDBP mutations (5.0 years; 95% confidence interval: 3.6–7.2) and longer than those with FUS mutations (1.9 years; 95% confidence interval: 1.7–2.1). We conclude that C9ORF72 hexanucleotide repeat expansions were the most frequent mutation in our large cohort of patients with familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis of Italian, Sardinian and German ancestry. Together with mutation of SOD1, TARDBP and FUS, mutations of C9ORF72 account for ∼60% of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in Italy. Patients with C9ORF72 hexanucleotide repeat expansions present some phenotypic differences compared with patients with mutations of other genes or with unknown mutations, namely a high incidence of bulbar-onset disease and comorbidity with frontotemporal dementia. Their pedigrees typically display a high frequency of cases with pure frontotemporal dementia, widening the concept of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
doi:10.1093/brain/awr366
PMCID: PMC3286333  PMID: 22366794
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; familial ALS, C9ORF72 gene; phenotype–genotype correlation
8.  Large proportion of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis cases in Sardinia are due to a single founder mutation of the TARDBP gene 
Archives of neurology  2011;68(5):594-598.
Objective
To perform an extensive screening for mutations of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)–related genes in a consecutive cohort of Sardinian patients, a genetic isolate phylogenically distinct from other European populations.
Design
Population-based, prospective cohort study.
Patients
A total of 135 Sardinian patients with ALS and 156 healthy control subjects of Sardinian origin who were age- and sex-matched to patients.
Intervention
Patients underwent mutational analysis for SOD1, FUS, and TARDBP.
Results
Mutational screening of the entire cohort found that 39 patients (28.7%) carried the c.1144G A (p.A382T) missense mutation of the TARDBP gene. Of these, 15 had familial ALS (belonging to 10 distinct pedigrees) and 24 had apparently sporadic ALS. None of the 156 age-, sex-, and ethnicity-matched controls carried the pathogenic variant. Genotype data obtained for 5 ALS cases carrying the p.A382T mutation found that they shared a 94–single-nucleotide polymorphism risk haplotype that spanned 663 Kb across the TARDBP locus on chromosome 1p36.22. Three patients with ALS who carry the p.A382T mutation developed extrapyramidal symptoms several years after their initial presentation with motor weakness.
Conclusions
The TARDBP p.A382T missense mutation accounts for approximately one-third of all ALS cases in this island population. These patients share a large risk haplotype across the TARDBP locus, indicating that they have a common ancestor.
doi:10.1001/archneurol.2010.352
PMCID: PMC3513278  PMID: 21220647
9.  A patient carrying a homozygous p.A382T TARDBP missense mutation shows a syndrome including ALS, extrapyramidal symptoms and FTD 
Neurobiology of aging  2011;32(12):2327.e1-2327.e5.
We have recently published data showing that a founder mutation of the TARDBP gene (p.A382T) accounts for approximately one third of ALS cases on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia (Chiò et al, 2011). In that report, we identified 53 years-old man carrying a homozygous A382T missense mutation of the TARDBP gene with a complex neurological syndrome including ALS, parkinsonian features, motor and vocal tics, and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Due to the uniqueness of this case, here we provide a detailed clinical description, as well as neurophysiological, neuropsychological and neuroimaging data for that case and his extended family.
doi:10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2011.06.009
PMCID: PMC3192246  PMID: 21803454
10.  Variation of the Myelin Oligodendrocyte Glycoprotein gene is not primarily associated with multiple sclerosis in the Sardinian population 
BMC Genetics  2007;8:25.
Background
Multiple sclerosis (MS) is consistently associated with particular HLA-DRB1-DQB1 haplotypes. However, existing evidence suggests that variation at these loci does not entirely explain association of the HLA region with the disease. The MOG locus is a prime positional and functional candidate for such additional predisposing effects but the analysis is complicated by the strong, albeit labyrinthine pattern of linkage disequilibrium in the region. Here we have assessed the association of MOG variation with MS in the Sardinian population to see if it represents an independent contributor to MS predisposition.
Results
After re-sequencing the MOG gene in 21 healthy parents of MS patients we detected 134 variants, 33 of which were novel. A set of 40 informative SNPs was then selected and assessed for disease association together with 1 intragenic microsatellite in an initial data set of 239 MS families. This microsatellite and 11 SNPs were found to be positively associated with MS, using the transmission disequilibrium test, and were followed up in an additional 158 families (total families analysed = 397). While in these 397 families, 8 markers showed significant association with MS, through conditional tests we determined that these MOG variants were not associated with MS independently of the main DRB1-DQB1 disease associations.
Conclusion
These results indicate that variation within the MOG gene is not an important independent determinant of MS-inherited risk in the Sardinian population.
doi:10.1186/1471-2156-8-25
PMCID: PMC1888712  PMID: 17509152

Results 1-10 (10)