Only a few case reports and case series dealing with oral and dental health care are available in literature until now. The aim of the present pilot study was to determine the status of dental health in comparison to matched controls and to heighten the neurologists’ and dentists’ awareness of the oral aspects of the disease.
42 Huntington’s disease (HD) participants were scored according to the Unified Huntington’s Disease Rating Scale. The dental status was assessed by using the well established score for decayed, missing, and filled teeth (DMFT) and the dental plaque score (Silness-Loe plaque index).
Compared to controls HD participants showed significantly more decayed teeth and more plaques in both plaque indices. A higher motor impairment and a lower functional status of the patients lead to a worsening in dental status.
Possible reasons for our findings are discussed. Apart from local oral complications general complications may also occur. Thus, as a consequence, we would encourage patients, caregivers, neurologists, and the dentists to ensure regular preventive dental examinations and dental treatments of individuals with Huntington’s disease even in the premanifest stage of this disease.
Huntington's disease (HD) is characterized by a progressive course of disease until death 15–20 years after the first symptoms occur and is caused by a mutation with expanded CAG repeats in the huntingtin (htt) protein. Mutant htt (mhtt) in the striatum is assumed to be the main reason for neurodegeneration. Knowledge about pathophysiology has rapidly improved discussing influences of excitotoxicity, mitochondrial damage, free radicals, and inflammatory mechanisms. Both innate and adaptive immune systems may play an important role in HD. Activation of microglia with expression of proinflammatory cytokines, impaired migration of macrophages, and deposition of complement factors in the striatum indicate an activation of the innate immune system. As part of the adaptive immune system, dendritic cells (DCs) prime T-cell responses secreting inflammatory mediators. In HD, DCs may contain mhtt which brings the adaptive immune system into the focus of interest. These data underline an increasing interest in the peripheral immune system for pathomechanisms of HD. It is still unclear if neuroinflammation is a reactive process or if there is an active influence on disease progression. Further understanding the influence of inflammation in HD using mouse models may open various avenues for promising therapeutic approaches aiming at slowing disease progression or forestalling onset of disease.
In several neurodegenerative diseases, like Huntington's disease (HD), treatments are still lacking. To determine whether a treatment is effective, sensitive disease progression biomarkers are especially needed for the premanifest phase, since this allows the evaluation of neuroprotective treatments preventing, or delaying disease manifestation. On the basis of a longitudinal study we present a biomarker that was derived by integrating behavioural and neurophysiological data reflecting cognitive processes of action control. The measure identified is sensitive enough to track disease progression over a period of only 6 month. Changes tracked were predictive for a number of clinically relevant parameters and the sensitivity of the measure was higher than that of currently used parameters to track prodromal disease progression. The study provides a biomarker, which could change practice of progression diagnostics in a major basal ganglia disease and which may help to evaluate potential neuroprotective treatments in future clinical trials.
Polymerase-γ (POLG) is a major human disease gene and may account for up to 25% of all mitochondrial diseases in the UK and in Italy. To date, >150 different pathogenic mutations have been described in POLG. Some mutations behave as both dominant and recessive alleles, but an autosomal recessive inheritance pattern is much more common. The most frequently detected pathogenic POLG mutation in the Caucasian population is c.1399G>A leading to a p.Ala467Thr missense mutation in the linker domain of the protein. Although many patients are homozygous for this mutation, clinical presentation is highly variable, ranging from childhood-onset Alpers-Huttenlocher syndrome to adult-onset sensory ataxic neuropathy dysarthria and ophthalmoparesis. The reasons for this are not clear, but familial clustering of phenotypes suggests that modifying factors may influence the clinical manifestation. In this study, we collected clinical, histological and biochemical data from 68 patients carrying the homozygous p.Ala467Thr mutation from eight diagnostic centres in Europe and the USA. We performed DNA analysis in 44 of these patients to search for a genetic modifier within POLG and flanking regions potentially involved in the regulation of gene expression, and extended our analysis to other genes affecting mitochondrial DNA maintenance (POLG2, PEO1 and ANT1). The clinical presentation included almost the entire phenotypic spectrum of all known POLG mutations. Interestingly, the clinical presentation was similar in siblings, implying a genetic basis for the phenotypic variability amongst homozygotes. However, the p.Ala467Thr allele was present on a shared haplotype in each affected individual, and there was no correlation between the clinical presentation and genetic variants in any of the analysed nuclear genes. Patients with mitochondrial DNA haplogroup U developed epilepsy significantly less frequently than patients with any other mitochondrial DNA haplotype. Epilepsy was reported significantly more frequently in females than in males, and also showed an association with one of the chromosomal markers defining the POLG haplotype. In conclusion, our clinical results show that the homozygous p.Ala467Thr POLG mutation does not cause discrete phenotypes, as previously suggested, but rather there is a continuum of clinical symptoms. Our results suggest that the mitochondrial DNA background plays an important role in modifying the disease phenotype but nuclear modifiers, epigenetic and environmental factors may also influence the severity of disease.
mitochondrial diseases; neuromuscular disorders; genetics; phenotype; molecular biology
Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain could be a powerful tool for discovering early biomarkers in clinically presymptomatic carriers of the Huntington's disease gene mutation (preHD). The aim of this study was to investigate the sensitivity of resting-state perfusion MRI in preHD and to identify neural changes, which could serve as biomarkers for future clinical trials. Differences in regional cerebral blood flow (rCBF) in 18 preHD and 18 controls were assessed with a novel MRI method based on perfusion images obtained with continuous arterial spin labeling. High-resolution structural data were collected to test for changes of brain volume. Compared with controls, preHD individuals showed decreased rCBF in medial and lateral prefrontal regions and increased rCBF in the precuneus. PreHD near to symptom onset additionally showed decreased rCBF in the putamen and increased rCBF in the hippocampus. Network analyses revealed an abnormal lateral prefrontal pattern in preHD far and near to motor onset. These data suggest early changes of frontostriatal baseline perfusion in preHD independent of substantial reductions of gray matter volume. This study also shows the feasibility of detecting neural changes in preHD with a robust MRI technique that would be suitable for longitudinal multisite application.
arterial spin labeling; cerebral blood flow; Huntington's disease; prefrontal cortex; magnetic resonance imaging; striatum
Background: Several factors, such as dysphagia, an increased motor activity, increased metabolic rate and a hypermetabolic state have been discussed as contributing to weight loss even at the early stages of Huntington’s Disease (HD). Aim of this pilot study was to investigate gastric emptying as a possible reason for weight loss in HD.
Methods: 11 HD participants at early stages of the disease and matched controls were investigated by using the well-established and non-invasive 13C-octanoate breath test. The “Gastroparesis Cardinal Symptom Index” and the “Short-Form Leeds Dyspepsia Questionnaire” were used for clinical evaluation of gastroparesis or dyspepsia.
Results: When compared to standard values given in literature and controls all HD patients had normal breath test results. There was no evidence of gastroparesis or dyspepsia. There was a correlation of breath test results with the cognitive and functional performance of HD participants.
Conclusion: According to our data, there is no evidence of impaired gastric emptying in early HD. We can not exclude that gastric emptying contributes to weight loss at more advanced stages of the disease.
Mitochondrial dysfunction due to respiratory chain impairment is a key feature in pathogenesis of Friedreich ataxia. Friedreich ataxia affects the nervous system, heart and pancreas.
We assessed hepatic mitochondrial function by 13C-methionine-breath-test in 16 Friedreich ataxia patients and matched healthy controls.
Patients exhaled significantly smaller amounts of 13CO2 over 90 minutes. Maximal exhaled percentage dose of 13CO2 recovery was reduced compared to controls.
13C-methionine-breath-test indicates subclinical hepatic mitochondrial dysfunction in Friedreich ataxia but did not correlate with GAA repeat lengths, disease duration or disease severity.
13C-methionine; breath test; Friedreich; Ataxia; neurodegeneration
Several candidate modifier genes which, in addition to the pathogenic CAG repeat expansion, influence the age at onset (AO) in Huntington disease (HD) have already been described. The aim of this study was to replicate association of variations in the N-methyl D-aspartate receptor subtype genes GRIN2A and GRIN2B in the “REGISTRY” cohort from the European Huntington Disease Network (EHDN). The analyses did replicate the association reported between the GRIN2A rs2650427 variation and AO in the entire cohort. Yet, when subjects were stratified by AO subtypes, we found nominally significant evidence for an association of the GRIN2A rs1969060 variation and the GRIN2B rs1806201 variation. These findings further implicate the N-methyl D-aspartate receptor subtype genes as loci containing variation associated with AO in HD.
Background: There is increasing evidence for functional interactions of the auditory and the motor system in music perception. Based on that we hypothesized that altered music perception in patients with a movement disorder, here Huntington’s disease (HD), compared to controls should be present. Additionally, there should be also a relation between areas associated with the assessment of musical rhythms and measures of movement deterioration in patients.
Methods: Manifest (HD) and premanifest HD (pHD), as well as healthy controls underwent an examination with auditory functional MRI (fMRI) with presentation of music and syllables as stimuli. Additionally, motor performance was assessed in tasks with different complexity and related to fMRI-data.
Results: There was a significant interaction of type of stimuli (music, syllables) and group (HD, phD, controls). During music processing when compared to blocks with syllables only, HDs revealed hyperactivations, especially in cerebellar structures,. In contrast, these structures were stronger activated during syllable presentation in pHD´s and controls, when compared to HD and music processing. Increased cerebellar activations during music processing in HDs were related to more severe voluntary and involuntary movement dysfunction. No correlations were observed with activations after syllable presentation. Generally, no relations were found in pHDs.
Conclusion: The results suggest modulation of auditory music processing in a movement disorder, which seems to relate to severity of movement deterioration.
Huntington disease (HD) is an inherited neurodegenerative disease caused by an abnormal expansion of a CAG repeat in the huntingtin HTT (HD) gene. The primary genetic determinant of the age at onset (AO) is the length of the HTT CAG repeat; however, the remaining genetic contribution to the AO of HD has largely not been elucidated. Recent studies showed that impaired functioning of the peroxisome proliferator-activated receptor gamma coactivator 1a (PGC-1alpha) contributes to mitochondrial dysfunction and appears to play an important role in HD pathogenesis. Further genetic evidence for involvement of PGC-1alpha in HD pathogenesis was generated by the findings that sequence variations in the PPARGC1A gene encoding PGC-1alpha exert modifying effects on the AO in HD. In this study, we hypothesised that polymorphisms in PGC-1alpha downstream targets might also contribute to the variation in the AO.
In over 400 German HD patients, polymorphisms in the nuclear respiratory factor 1 gene, NRF-1, and the mitochondrial transcription factor A, encoded by TFAM showed nominally significant association with AO of HD. When combining these results with the previously described modifiers rs7665116 in PPARGC1A and C7028T in the cytochrome c oxidase subunit I (CO1, mt haplogroup H) in a multivariable model, a substantial proportion of the variation in AO can be explained by the joint effect of significant modifiers and their interactions, respectively.
These results underscore that impairment of mitochondrial function plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of HD and that upstream transcriptional activators of PGC-1alpha may be useful targets in the treatment of HD.
Transcranial sonography (TCS) has become a new diagnostic tool in the evaluation of extrapyramidal disorders. Studies of TCS report alterations of the mesencephalic raphe in patients with depression. The aim of this study was to evaluate TCS findings in patients with Huntington disease in correlation with their neurologic and psychiatric status.
We recruited patients with genetically confirmed Huntington disease. The neurological and psychiatric status of participants was assessed by independent physicians. Echogenicities were investigated according to examination protocol for extrapyramidal disorders using a Siemens Sonoline Elegra system. The sonography examiner was blinded for clinical data.
We included 39 patients in our study; 21 patients (53.8%) showed symptoms of depression at the time of evaluation and, of those, 15 (71.4%) had hypoechogenic raphe structures. Thirty patients (76.9%) had a history of depressive episodes, 19 (63.3%) of them with hypoechogenic raphe structures. All 9 patients without a history of depressive episodes showed normal echogenicity of raphe structures (sensitivity 63.3%, specificity 100%). Twelve (70.6%) of the 17 patients with Huntington disease who showed psychiatric disturbances prior to the occurrence of motor symptoms exhibited pathological raphe echogenicity (sensitivity 70.6%, specificity 68.2%).
Most of the patients were taking antichoreatic medication, which particularly influences neurologic status. Thus, a meaningful interpretation of the correlation between TCS findings and neurologic features was limited.
As a novel finding, a relation between mesencephalic raphe echogenicity and depressive state could be identified in patients with Huntington disease. An alteration of the serotonergic brain stem raphe might be involved in the pathogenesis of depression in these patients.
Huntington's disease (HD) is an autosomal dominantly inherited progressive neurodegenerative disease. The exact sequel of events finally resulting in neurodegeneration is only partially understood and there is no established protective treatment so far. Some lines of evidence speak for the contribution of oxidative stress to neuronal tissue damage. The fumaric acid ester dimethylfumarate (DMF) is a new disease modifying therapy currently in phase III studies for relapsing-remitting multiple sclerosis. DMF potentially exerts neuroprotective effects via induction of the transcription factor “nuclear factor E2-related factor 2” (Nrf2) and detoxification pathways. Thus, we investigated here the therapeutic efficacy of DMF in R6/2 and YAC128 HD transgenic mice which mimic many aspects of HD and are characterized by an enhanced generation of free radicals in neurons. Treatment with DMF significantly prevented weight loss in R6/2 mice between postnatal days 80–90. At the same time, DMF treatment led to an attenuated motor impairment as measured by the clasping score. Average survival in the DMF group was 100.5 days vs. 94.0 days in the placebo group. In the histological analysis on day 80, DMF treatment resulted in a significant preservation of morphologically intact neurons in the striatum as well as in the motor cortex. DMF treatment resulted in an increased Nrf2 immunoreactivity in neuronal subpopulations, but not in astrocytes. These beneficial effects were corroborated in YAC128 mice which, after one year of DMF treatment, also displayed reduced dyskinesia as well as a preservation of neurons. In conclusion, DMF may exert beneficial effects in mouse models of HD. Given its excellent side effect profile, further studies with DMF as new therapeutic approach in HD and other neurodegenerative diseases are warranted.
Instrumental measurement of simple motion sequences reflects impairment in patients with Huntington's disease (HD). The objectives were to study the progress of symptoms of HD and tapping results in 42 patients with HD, without symptomatic drug treatment over 3 years. Assessment moments were at baseline, and at years 1, 2 and 3. Unified Huntington's Disease Rating Scale (UHDRS) total score and UHDRS arm score significantly increased. Motor test outcomes considerably worsened. Instrumental test results significantly correlated with both UHDRS scores at each assessment. Assessment of simple movement sequences is an additional simple method to follow impairment in patients with HD in addition to clinical rating.
Although there is a strong correlation between CAG repeat length and age at onset (AO) of motor symptoms, individual Huntington disease (HD) patients may differ dramatically in onset age and disease manifestations despite similar CAG repeat lengths. This has led to a search for genetic factors that influence AO. In order to identify such a genetic modifier, we analysed polymorphisms in the PGC-1alpha gene. Recent data indicate inhibition of PGC-1alpha function by mutant Htt supporting a link between transcriptional deregulation and mitochondrial dysfunction in HD. In > 400 HD patients, a polymorphism located within intron 2, a potential recombination hot spot, explains a small, but statistically significant, amount of the variability in AO. Our data suggest that PGC-1alpha has modifying effects on the pathogenic process in HD.
“Timing” processes are mediated via a disturbed neuronal network including the basal ganglia. Brain structures important for “timing” are also discussed to be critical for the deterioration of movements in Huntington's disease (HD). Changes in “timing processes” are found in HD, but no study has varied the degree of motor demands in timing functions in parallel in HD. It may be hypothesized that timing functions may be deteriorated to a different extent in motor and non-motor timing, because in motor timing the underlying brain structures may be more demanding than in non-motor timing.
We assessed timing in two different experiments: a time-estimation (TE) and a time-discrimination (TD) task. The demand on motor functions is high in the TE-task and low in the TD-task. Furthermore, general motor ability was assessed at different complexity levels. A presymptomatic (pHD), a symptomatic (HD) and a control group were investigated. We found a decline in timing functions when demands on the motor system were high (TE-task), in HD and even in pHD, compared to controls. In non-motor timing (TD task) and in the assessment of general motor ability, performance in the pHD-group was comparable to the controls and better than in the symptomatic group. Performance in both timing tasks was related to the duration until the estimated age of onset in pHDs.
The study shows a selective deterioration of time-estimation processes in symptomatic and even presymptomatic Huntington's disease. Time-discrimination processes were not affected in both patient groups. The relation of timing performance to the duration until the estimated age of onset in pHD is of clinical importance.
Huntington's disease (HD) is a genetic disorder expressed by a degeneration of the basal ganglia inter alia accompanied with dopaminergic alterations. These dopaminergic alterations are related to genetic factors i.e., CAG-repeat expansion. The error (related) negativity (Ne/ERN), a cognitive event-related potential related to performance monitoring, is generated in the anterior cingulate cortex (ACC) and supposed to depend on the dopaminergic system. The Ne is reduced in Parkinson's Disease (PD). Due to a dopaminergic deficit in HD, a reduction of the Ne is also likely. Furthermore it is assumed that movement dysfunction emerges as a consequence of dysfunctional error-feedback processing. Since dopaminergic alterations are related to the CAG-repeat, a Ne reduction may furthermore also be related to the genetic disease load.
We assessed the error negativity (Ne) in a speeded reaction task under consideration of the underlying genetic abnormalities. HD patients showed a specific reduction in the Ne, which suggests impaired error processing in these patients. Furthermore, the Ne was closely related to CAG-repeat expansion.
The reduction of the Ne is likely to be an effect of the dopaminergic pathology. The result resembles findings in Parkinson's Disease. As such the Ne might be a measure for the integrity of striatal dopaminergic output function. The relation to the CAG-repeat expansion indicates that the Ne could serve as a gene-associated “cognitive” biomarker in HD.
Recent evidence suggests that brain-derived neurotrophic factor (BDNF) is an attractive candidate for modifying age at onset (AO) in Huntington disease (HD). In particular, the functional Val66Met polymorphism appeared to exert a significant effect. Here we evaluate BDNF variability with respect to AO of HD using markers that represent the entire locus.
Five selected tagging polymorphisms were genotyped across a 65 kb region comprising the BDNF gene in a well established cohort of 250 unrelated German HD patients.
Addition of BDNF genotype variations or one of the marker haplotypes to the effect of CAG repeat lengths did not affect the variance of the AO.
We were unable to verify a recently reported association between the functional Val66Met polymorphism in the BDNF gene and AO in HD. From our findings, we conclude that neither sequence variations in nor near the gene contribute significantly to the variance of AO.
Chorea in Huntington's Disease (HD) is usually treated with antidopaminergic neuroleptics like haloperidol, olanzapine and tiaprid or dopamine depleting drugs like tetrabenazine. Some patients with hyperkinesia, however, react to treatment with antidopaminergic drugs by developing extrapyramidal side effects. In earlier studies valproic acid showed no beneficial effect on involuntary choreatic movements. Myoclonus is rare in HD and is often overseen or misdiagnosed as chorea.
In this report, we present eight patients whose main symptom is myoclonic hyperkinesia. All patients were treated with valproic acid and scored by using the Unified Huntington's Disease Rating Scale (UHDRS) motor score before and after treatment. In addition to this, two patients agreed to be videotaped.
In seven patients myoclonus and, therefore the UHDRS motor score improved in a dose dependent manner. In three of these patients antidopaminergic medication could be reduced.
In the rare subgroup of HD patients suffering from myoclonic hyperkinesia, valproic acid is a possible alternative treatment.
Huntington disease (HD) is a fully penetrant, autosomal dominantly inherited disorder associated with abnormal expansions of a stretch of perfect CAG repeats in the 5' part of the IT15 gene. The number of repeat units is highly predictive for the age at onset (AO) of the disorder. But AO is only modestly correlated with repeat length when intermediate HD expansions are considered. Recently, suggestive association has been reported between a single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP; rs1801131, also known as A1298C) in the methyltetrahydrofolate reductase (MTHFR) gene and AO of HD. 5,10-MTHFR is a key enzyme in the folate metabolism, diverting metabolites toward methylation reactions or nucleotide synthesis. Using part of a previously established study cohort plus additional patients and appropriate statistical methods, we reinvestigated two polymorphisms in the MTHFR gene, C677T and A1298C, as well as their association with AO in 167 HD patients.
There was no statistically significant impact on AO for HD patients, neither of MTHFR SNPs nor of the combinations thereof.
Contrary to previously described evidence the A1298C polymorphism in the MTHFR gene does not appear to modulate AO of HD patients.
TP53 is an attractive candidate for modifying age of onset (AO) in Huntington disease (HD): The amino-terminus of the mutated huntingtin (htt) exon 1 translation product has functional properties which may affect critically the TP53 pathway in HD neurons. The pathogenic domain of mutant htt interacts with nuclear transcription factors, and it potentially modulates TP53-induced transcriptional events. A single nucleotide polymorphism (SNP) resulting in the R72P exchange in TP53 protein might modulate the variation in AO. In addition, also the R196K replacement in human caspase activated DNase (hCAD) may theoretically affect the AO.
We have genotyped the polymorphisms R72P and R196K in a well established cohort of 167 unrelated HD patients.
The expanded CAG repeat explained 30.8% of the variance in AO. Adding the genotypes of the SNPs investigated did not affect the variance of the AO variance explained.
In this replication study, no association was found explaining a significant amount of the variability in AO of HD thus contradicting a recent report.
Perineuriomas have been defined as tumorous lesions of the peripheral nerves which derive from perineurial cell proliferation and may be associated with abnormalities on chromosome 22.
Three years after a painful cubital vein procaine injection, a 33 year-old man developed a median nerve lesion, initially diagnosed as carpal tunnel syndrome. Symptoms progressed despite appropriate surgery. Clinical and electrophysiological re-evaluation revealed a fusiform mass at the distal upper arm, confirmed by MRI. Immunohistochemical studies classified the tumor as a mixed perineurioma and neuroma.
Perineurioma mixed with neuroma may potentially caused by the previous trauma or cytotoxic effects of procaine.
Huntington's disease (HD) is a fully penetrant, autosomal dominantly inherited disorder associated with abnormal expansions of a stretch of perfect CAG repeats in the 5' part of the IT15 gene. The number of repeat units is highly predictive for the age at onset (AO) of the disorder. But AO is only modestly correlated with repeat length when intermediate HD expansions are considered. Circumstantial evidence suggests that additional features of the HD course are based on genetic traits. Therefore, it may be possible to investigate the genetic background of HD, i.e. to map the loci underlying the development and progression of the disease. Recently an association of Glutathione S-Transferase Ω 1 (GSTO1) and possibly of GSTO2 with AO was demonstrated for, both, Alzheimer's (AD) and Parkinson's disease (PD).
We have genotyped the polymorphisms rs4925 GSTO1 and rs2297235 GSTO2 in 232 patients with HD and 228 controls.
After genotyping GSTO1 and GSTO2 polymorphisms, firstly there was no statistically significant difference in AO for HD patients, as well as secondly for HD patients vs. controls concerning, both, genotype and allele frequencies, respectively.
The GSTO1 and GSTO2 genes flanked by the investigated polymorphisms are not comprised in a primary candidate region influencing AO in HD.