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1.  The natural history of multiple system atrophy: a prospective European cohort study 
Lancet Neurology  2013;12(3):264-274.
Summary
Background
Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a fatal and still poorly understood degenerative movement disorder that is characterised by autonomic failure, cerebellar ataxia, and parkinsonism in various combinations. Here we present the final analysis of a prospective multicentre study by the European MSA Study Group to investigate the natural history of MSA.
Methods
Patients with a clinical diagnosis of MSA were recruited and followed up clinically for 2 years. Vital status was ascertained 2 years after study completion. Disease progression was assessed using the unified MSA rating scale (UMSARS), a disease-specific questionnaire that enables the semiquantitative rating of autonomic and motor impairment in patients with MSA. Additional rating methods were applied to grade global disease severity, autonomic symptoms, and quality of life. Survival was calculated using a Kaplan-Meier analysis and predictors were identified in a Cox regression model. Group differences were analysed by parametric tests and non-parametric tests as appropriate. Sample size estimates were calculated using a paired two-group t test.
Findings
141 patients with moderately severe disease fulfilled the consensus criteria for MSA. Mean age at symptom onset was 56·2 (SD 8·4) years. Median survival from symptom onset as determined by Kaplan-Meier analysis was 9·8 years (95% CI 8·1–11·4). The parkinsonian variant of MSA (hazard ratio [HR] 2·08, 95% CI 1·09–3·97; p=0·026) and incomplete bladder emptying (HR 2·10, 1·02–4·30; p=0·044) predicted shorter survival. 24-month progression rates of UMSARS activities of daily living, motor examination, and total scores were 49% (9·4 [SD 5·9]), 74% (12·9 [8·5]), and 57% (21·9 [11·9]), respectively, relative to baseline scores. Autonomic symptom scores progressed throughout the follow-up. Shorter symptom duration at baseline (OR 0·68, 0·5–0·9; p=0·006) and absent levodopa response (OR 3·4, 1·1–10·2; p=0·03) predicted rapid UMSARS progression. Sample size estimation showed that an interventional trial with 258 patients (129 per group) would be able to detect a 30% effect size in 1-year UMSARS motor examination decline rates at 80% power.
Interpretation
Our prospective dataset provides new insights into the evolution of MSA based on a follow-up period that exceeds that of previous studies. It also represents a useful resource for patient counselling and planning of multicentre trials.
Funding
Fifth Framework Programme of the European Union, the Oesterreichische Nationalbank, and the Austrian Science Fund.
doi:10.1016/S1474-4422(12)70327-7
PMCID: PMC3581815  PMID: 23391524
2.  A comparative clinical, pathological, biochemical and genetic study of fused in sarcoma proteinopathies 
Brain  2011;134(9):2548-2564.
Neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease and atypical frontotemporal lobar degeneration are rare diseases characterized by ubiquitin-positive inclusions lacking transactive response DNA-binding protein-43 and tau. Recently, mutations in the fused in sarcoma gene have been shown to cause familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and fused in sarcoma-positive neuronal inclusions have subsequently been demonstrated in neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease and atypical frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitinated inclusions. Here we provide clinical, imaging, morphological findings, as well as genetic and biochemical data in 14 fused in sarcoma proteinopathy cases. In this cohort, the age of onset was variable but included cases of young-onset disease. Patients with atypical frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitinated inclusions all presented with behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia, while the clinical presentation in neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease was more heterogeneous, including cases with motor neuron disease and extrapyramidal syndromes. Neuroimaging revealed atrophy of the frontal and anterior temporal lobes as well as the caudate in the cases with atypical frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitinated inclusions, but was more heterogeneous in the cases with neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease, often being normal to visual inspection early on in the disease. The distribution and severity of fused in sarcoma-positive neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions, neuronal intranuclear inclusions and neurites were recorded and fused in sarcoma was biochemically analysed in both subgroups. Fused in sarcoma-positive neuronal cytoplasmic and intranuclear inclusions were found in the hippocampal granule cell layer in variable numbers. Cortical fused in sarcoma-positive neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions were often ‘Pick body-like’ in neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease, and annular and crescent-shaped inclusions were seen in both conditions. Motor neurons contained variable numbers of compact, granular or skein-like cytoplasmic inclusions in all fused in sarcoma-positive cases in which brainstem and spinal cord motor neurons were available for study (five and four cases, respectively). No fused in sarcoma mutations were found in any cases. Biochemically, two major fused in sarcoma species were found and shown to be more insoluble in the atypical frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitinated inclusions subgroup compared with neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease. There is considerable overlap and also significant differences in fused in sarcoma-positive pathology between the two subgroups, suggesting they may represent a spectrum of the same disease. The co-existence of fused in sarcoma-positive inclusions in both motor neurons and extramotor cerebral structures is a characteristic finding in sporadic fused in sarcoma proteinopathies, indicating a multisystem disorder.
doi:10.1093/brain/awr160
PMCID: PMC3170529  PMID: 21752791
frontotemporal lobar degeneration; FUS; clinical presentation; neuropathology; biochemistry
3.  Huntington CAG repeat size does not modify onset age in familial Parkinson’s disease: The GenePD Study 
The ATP/ADP ratio reflects mitochondrial function and has been reported to be influenced by the size of the Huntington disease gene (HD) repeat. Impaired mitochondrial function has long been implicated in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and therefore, we evaluated the relationship of the HD CAG repeat size to PD onset age in a large sample of familial PD cases. PD affected siblings (n=495) with known onset ages from 248 families, were genotyped for the HD CAG repeat. Genotyping failed in 11 cases leaving 484 for analysis, including 35 LRRK2 carriers. All cases had HD CAG repeats (range 15 to 34) below the clinical range for HD, although 5.2 percent of the sample (n=25) had repeats in the intermediate range (the intermediate range lower limit=27; upper limit=35 repeats), suggesting that the prevalence of intermediate allele carriers in the general population is significant. No relation between the HD CAG repeat size and the age at onset for PD was found in this sample of familial PD.
doi:10.1002/mds.22186
PMCID: PMC2655323  PMID: 18649400
Parkinson’s disease; Huntington’s disease; CAG repeat; onset age; genetics; mitochondria
4.  Replication of association between ELAVL4 and Parkinson disease: the GenePD study 
Human genetics  2008;124(1):95-99.
Genetic variants in embryonic lethal, abnormal vision, Drosophila-like 4 (ELAVL4) have been reported to be associated with onset age of Parkinson disease (PD) or risk for PD affection in Caucasian populations. In the current study we genotyped three single nucleotide polymorphisms in ELAVL4 in a Caucasian study sample consisting of 712 PD patients and 312 unrelated controls from the GenePD study. The minor allele of rs967582 was associated with increased risk of PD (odds ratio = 1.46, nominal P value = 0.011) in the GenePD population. The minor allele of rs967582 was also the risk allele for PD affection or earlier onset age in the previously studied populations. This replication of association with rs967582 in a third cohort further implicates ELAVL4 as a PD susceptibility gene.
doi:10.1007/s00439-008-0526-4
PMCID: PMC2716559  PMID: 18587682
5.  The Gly2019Ser mutation in LRRK2 is not fully penetrant in familial Parkinson's disease: the GenePD study 
BMC Medicine  2008;6:32.
Background
We report age-dependent penetrance estimates for leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2)-related Parkinson's disease (PD) in a large sample of familial PD. The most frequently seen LRRK2 mutation, Gly2019Ser (G2019S), is associated with approximately 5 to 6% of familial PD cases and 1 to 2% of idiopathic cases, making it the most common known genetic cause of PD. Studies of the penetrance of LRRK2 mutations have produced a wide range of estimates, possibly due to differences in study design and recruitment, including in particular differences between samples of familial PD versus sporadic PD.
Methods
A sample, including 903 affected and 58 unaffected members from 509 families ascertained for having two or more PD-affected members, 126 randomly ascertained PD patients and 197 controls, was screened for five different LRRK2 mutations. Penetrance was estimated in families of LRRK2 carriers with consideration of the inherent bias towards increased penetrance in a familial sample.
Results
Thirty-one out of 509 families with multiple cases of PD (6.1%) were found to have 58 LRRK2 mutation carriers (6.4%). Twenty-nine of the 31 families had G2019S mutations while two had R1441C mutations. No mutations were identified among controls or unaffected relatives of PD cases. Nine PD-affected relatives of G2019S carriers did not carry the LRRK2 mutation themselves. At the maximum observed age range of 90 to 94 years, the unbiased estimated penetrance was 67% for G2019S families, compared with a baseline PD risk of 17% seen in the non-LRRK2-related PD families.
Conclusion
Lifetime penetrance of LRRK2 estimated in the unascertained relatives of multiplex PD families is greater than that reported in studies of sporadically ascertained LRRK2 cases, suggesting that inherited susceptibility factors may modify the penetrance of LRRK2 mutations. In addition, the presence of nine PD phenocopies in the LRRK2 families suggests that these susceptibility factors may also increase the risk of non-LRRK2-related PD. No differences in penetrance were found between men and women, suggesting that the factors that influence penetrance for LRRK2 carriers are independent of the factors which increase PD prevalence in men.
doi:10.1186/1741-7015-6-32
PMCID: PMC2596771  PMID: 18986508

Results 1-5 (5)