Publications by authors named "Claudia M Testa"

24 Publications

  • Page 1 of 1

Association of Essential Tremor With Novel Risk Loci: A Genome-Wide Association Study and Meta-analysis.

JAMA Neurol 2022 02;79(2):185-193

Parkinson's and Movement Disorders Center, Department of Neurology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond.

Importance: Essential tremor (ET) is one of the most common movement disorders, affecting 5% of the general population older than 65 years. Common variants are thought to contribute toward susceptibility to ET, but no variants have been robustly identified.

Objective: To identify common genetic factors associated with risk of ET.

Design, Setting, And Participants: Case-control genome-wide association study. Inverse-variance meta-analysis was used to combine cohorts. Multicenter samples collected from European populations were collected from January 2010 to September 2019 as part of an ongoing study. Included patients were clinically diagnosed with or reported having ET. Control individuals were not diagnosed with or reported to have ET. Of 485 250 individuals, data for 483 054 passed data quality control and were used.

Main Outcomes And Measures: Genotypes of common variants associated with risk of ET.

Results: Of the 483 054 individuals included, there were 7177 with ET (3693 [51.46%] female; mean [SD] age, 62.66 [15.12] years), and 475 877 control individuals (253 785 [53.33%] female; mean [SD] age, 56.40 [17.6] years). Five independent genome-wide significant loci and were identified and were associated with approximately 18% of ET heritability. Functional analyses found significant enrichment in the cerebellar hemisphere, cerebellum, and axonogenesis pathways. Genetic correlation (r), which measures the degree of genetic overlap, revealed significant common variant overlap with Parkinson disease (r, 0.28; P = 2.38 × 10-8) and depression (r, 0.12; P = 9.78 × 10-4). A separate fine-mapping of transcriptome-wide association hits identified genes such as BACE2, LRRN2, DHRS13, and LINC00323 in disease-relevant brain regions, such as the cerebellum.

Conclusions And Relevance: The results of this genome-wide association study suggest that a portion of ET heritability can be explained by common genetic variation and can help identify new common genetic risk factors for ET.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamaneurol.2021.4781DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8728658PMC
February 2022

Anticholinergic Medication Burden in Parkinson's Disease Outpatients.

J Parkinsons Dis 2022 ;12(2):599-606

Department of Neurology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA.

Background: Individuals with Parkinson's disease (PD) may be especially vulnerable to future cognitive decline from anticholinergic medications.

Objective: To characterize anticholinergic medication burden, determine the co-occurrence of anticholinergic and cholinesterase inhibitors, and to assess the correlations among anticholinergic burden scales in PD outpatients.

Methods: We studied 670 PD outpatients enrolled in a clinic registry between 2012 and 2020. Anticholinergic burden was measured with the Anticholinergic Cognitive Burden Scale (ACB), Anticholinergic Drug Scale (ADS), Anticholinergic Risk Scale (ARS), and Drug Burden Index-Anticholinergic component (DBI-Ach). Correlations between scales were assessed with weighted kappa coefficients.

Results: Between 31.5 to 46.3% of PD patients were taking medications with anticholinergic properties. Among the scales applied, the ACB produced the highest prevalence of medications with anticholinergic properties (46.3%). Considering only medications with definite anticholinergic activity (scores of 2 or 3 on ACB, ADS, or ARS), the most common anticholinergic drug classes were antiparkinsonian (8.2%), antipsychotic (6.4%), and urological (3.3%) medications. Cholinesterase inhibitors and medications with anticholinergic properties were co-prescribed to 5.4% of the total cohort. The most highly correlated scales were ACB and ADS (κ= 0.71), ACB and ARS (κ= 0.67), and ADS and ARS (κ= 0.55).

Conclusion: A high proportion of PD patients (20%) were either taking antiparkinsonian, urological, or antipsychotic anticholinergic medications or were co-prescribed anticholinergic medications and cholinesterase inhibitors. By virtue of its detection of a high prevalence of anticholinergic medication usage and its high correlation with other scales, our data support use of the ACB scale to assess anticholinergic burden in PD patients.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3233/JPD-212769DOI Listing
April 2022

Huntington disease: A quarter century of progress since the gene discovery.

J Neurol Sci 2019 01 27;396:52-68. Epub 2018 Sep 27.

Parkinson's Disease Center and Movement Disorders Clinic, Department of Neurology, Baylor College of Medicine, Houston, TX, USA.

Huntington disease (HD) is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disorder characterized by motor, behavioral, and cognitive manifestations. It is caused by an expansion of a trinucleotide repeat in the huntingtin gene (HTT) on chromosome 4. Although disease onset is currently clinically defined by motor signs, the presence of non-motor symptoms prior to motor diagnosis is increasingly recognized. Complex multimodal symptoms adversely affect quality of life and longevity of patients. Thoughtful interdisciplinary symptomatic care can make a major positive impact for patients and families. A variety of symptomatic treatments are currently available, and new symptomatic and potentially disease modifying therapies are being actively developed. Functional and quality of life outcome measures can be used to assess efficacy of clinical interventions. These outcomes along with clinical data and novel longitudinal biomarkers are increasingly utilized in clinical trials, particularly those testing disease-modifying therapeutics. Recent advances in novel therapeutic strategies, including targeting mutant huntingtin (HTT) and the HTT gene, promise another wave of disease-modifying trials in the near future. Better appreciation of heterogeneous clinical phenomenology and immediate tractable treatment goals coupled with advances in new therapeutics heralds a golden age of HD treatment that will positively impact quality of life and longevity of HD patients and inform advances in other inherited and neurodegenerative neurological disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.jns.2018.09.022DOI Listing
January 2019

The Changing Age of Individuals Seeking Presymptomatic Genetic Testing for Huntington Disease.

J Genet Couns 2018 09 20;27(5):1157-1166. Epub 2018 Feb 20.

Parkinson's and Movement Disorders Center, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, USA.

Huntington disease (HD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder. Presymptomatic genetic testing allows at-risk individuals to clarify their risk status. Understanding the characteristics and motivations of individuals seeking HD presymptomatic genetic testing better equips genetic counselors and other healthcare professionals to provide comprehensive and personalized care. The aims of this study were to (1) determine whether the average age when individuals seek presymptomatic HD genetic testing has decreased over time, (2) assess motivations for seeking testing, (3) explore whether there is a relationship between age and motivations, and (4) explore genetic counselors' perceptions of the shift in age. Data from the US HD testing centers (N = 4) were analyzed. A small but statistically significant decrease in age of individuals seeking presymptomatic testing was observed (p = 0.045). HD community members (N = 77) were surveyed regarding presymptomatic testing motivations. Younger individuals were more likely than older individuals to cite "To learn whether or not you would develop HD" and "To make choices about further education or a career" compared to older individuals (p < 0.05). Conversely, older individuals more frequently cited "To give children a better idea of their risk" (p < 0.002). Sixteen percent of genetic counselors surveyed (6/37) perceived a change in age of testing. All of these respondents had provided HD testing for ten or more years and anecdotally believed the age at testing has decreased over time. Study results help providers personalize counseling based on patient's age and serve as a starting point for more research into the relationship between age at testing and motivations for testing.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10897-018-0233-9DOI Listing
September 2018

Consensus Statement on the classification of tremors. from the task force on tremor of the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.

Mov Disord 2018 01 30;33(1):75-87. Epub 2017 Nov 30.

Department of Neurology, Universitätsklinikum Schleswig-Holstein, Kiel Campus, Christian Albrechts University Kiel, Kiel, Germany.

Background: Consensus criteria for classifying tremor disorders were published by the International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society in 1998. Subsequent advances with regard to essential tremor, tremor associated with dystonia, and other monosymptomatic and indeterminate tremors make a significant revision necessary.

Objectives: Convene an international panel of experienced investigators to review the definition and classification of tremor.

Methods: Computerized MEDLINE searches in January 2013 and 2015 were conducted using a combination of text words and MeSH terms: "tremor", "tremor disorders", "essential tremor", "dystonic tremor", and "classification" limited to human studies. Agreement was obtained using consensus development methodology during four in-person meetings, two teleconferences, and numerous manuscript reviews.

Results: Tremor is defined as an involuntary, rhythmic, oscillatory movement of a body part and is classified along two axes: Axis 1-clinical characteristics, including historical features (age at onset, family history, and temporal evolution), tremor characteristics (body distribution, activation condition), associated signs (systemic, neurological), and laboratory tests (electrophysiology, imaging); and Axis 2-etiology (acquired, genetic, or idiopathic). Tremor syndromes, consisting of either isolated tremor or tremor combined with other clinical features, are defined within Axis 1. This classification scheme retains the currently accepted tremor syndromes, including essential tremor, and provides a framework for defining new syndromes.

Conclusions: This approach should be particularly useful in elucidating isolated tremor syndromes and syndromes consisting of tremor and other signs of uncertain significance. Consistently defined Axis 1 syndromes are needed to facilitate the elucidation of specific etiologies in Axis 2. © 2017 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mds.27121DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6530552PMC
January 2018

New symptomatic therapies for Huntington disease.

Handb Clin Neurol 2017 ;144:199-207

Department of Neurology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, VA, United States.

Huntington disease (HD), an inherited neurodegenerative disease, results from a CAG repeat expansion creating mutant huntingtin protein and widespread neuronal damage. Motor symptoms such as chorea are often preceded by cognitive and behavioral changes. Tetrabenazine and deutetrabebenazine are the two drugs approved by the Federal Food and Drug Administrationfor HD symptoms, is an effective therapy for chorea. However, there is still a large need for other symptomatic therapies impacting functional issues, including impaired gait, behavioral, and cognitive symptoms. A number of pharmacologic agents are under investigation. Additionally, other mechanisms are being targeted in motor symptom drug development, including phosphodiesterase 10 enzyme inhibition, dopamine modulation, and inhibition of deacetylation. There is perhaps the greatest unmet need in treating nonmotor effects, such as cognition and change in disease course. PBT2, a metal chaperone, and latrepirdine, a mitochondrial stabilizer, are under investigation specifically for the possibility of cognitive benefit. Unfortunately, there is a lack of HD-specific evidence on effective treatments for behavioral and psychiatric symptoms. Further investigation of nonmedication interventions such as physical therapy is necessary. As our understanding of molecular and cellular mechanisms underlying HD broadens, a new set of mechanistic targets will become the focus of HD symptomatic therapies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/B978-0-12-801893-4.00017-1DOI Listing
March 2018

Safety of Converting From Tetrabenazine to Deutetrabenazine for the Treatment of Chorea.

JAMA Neurol 2017 08;74(8):977-982

Department of Neurology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond.

Importance: Tetrabenazine is efficacious for chorea control; however, tolerability concerns exist. Deutetrabenazine, a novel molecule that reduces chorea, was well tolerated in a double-blind, placebo-controlled study.

Objectives: To evaluate the safety and explore the efficacy of conversion from tetrabenazine to deutetrabenazine in patients with chorea associated with Huntington disease (HD).

Design, Setting, And Participants: In this ongoing, open-label, single-arm study that started on December 21, 2013, 37 patients at 13 Huntington Study Group sites in the United States and Australia who were taking stable doses of tetrabenazine that provided a therapeutic benefit were switched overnight to deutetrabenazine therapy. After week 1, the deutetrabenazine dose was titrated on a weekly basis for optimal chorea control.

Interventions: Deutetrabenazine administration at a dosage thought to provide comparable systemic exposure to the active metabolites of the prior, stable tetrabenazine regimen.

Main Outcomes And Measures: Safety measures included adverse events (AEs), clinical laboratory tests, vital signs, electrocardiograms, and validated scales. Changes in the Unified Huntington's Disease Rating Scale total maximal chorea score and total motor score were efficacy end points.

Results: Of the 53 patients with HD screened for the study, 37 ambulatory patients with manifest HD (mean [SD] age, 52.4 [11.5] years; 22 [59%] male and 15 [41%] female; 36 white [97.3%]) were enrolled. Deutetrabenazine was generally well tolerated, with low rates of neuropsychiatric AEs. Safety scales did not reveal subclinical toxicity with deutetrabenazine treatment. Rates of dose reduction or suspension attributable to AEs were also low. Chorea control, as measured by the total maximal chorea score, was maintained at week 1 and significantly improved at week 8 (mean [SD] change from baseline, 2.1 [3.2]; P < .001).

Conclusions And Relevance: In patients with chorea, overnight conversion to deutetrabenazine therapy provided a favorable safety profile and effectively maintained chorea control.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jamaneurol.2017.1352DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5710322PMC
August 2017

Genome-wide association study in essential tremor identifies three new loci.

Brain 2016 12 20;139(Pt 12):3163-3169. Epub 2016 Oct 20.

15 Neurogenetics, Division of Neurosciences, Center for Applied Medical Research (CIMA), University of Navarra, CIBERNED, Centro de Investigacion Biomedica en Red en Enfermedades Neurodegenerativas, Instituto de Salud Carlos III, Spain.

We conducted a genome-wide association study of essential tremor, a common movement disorder characterized mainly by a postural and kinetic tremor of the upper extremities. Twin and family history studies show a high heritability for essential tremor. The molecular genetic determinants of essential tremor are unknown. We included 2807 patients and 6441 controls of European descent in our two-stage genome-wide association study. The 59 most significantly disease-associated markers of the discovery stage were genotyped in the replication stage. After Bonferroni correction two markers, one (rs10937625) located in the serine/threonine kinase STK32B and one (rs17590046) in the transcriptional coactivator PPARGC1A were associated with essential tremor. Three markers (rs12764057, rs10822974, rs7903491) in the cell-adhesion molecule CTNNA3 were significant in the combined analysis of both stages. The expression of STK32B was increased in the cerebellar cortex of patients and expression quantitative trait loci database mining showed association between the protective minor allele of rs10937625 and reduced expression in cerebellar cortex. We found no expression differences related to disease status or marker genotype for the other two genes. Replication of two lead single nucleotide polymorphisms of previous small genome-wide association studies (rs3794087 in SLC1A2, rs9652490 in LINGO1) did not confirm the association with essential tremor.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/aww242DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5382938PMC
December 2016

Knowledge gaps and research recommendations for essential tremor.

Parkinsonism Relat Disord 2016 12 4;33:27-35. Epub 2016 Oct 4.

Department of Neurology, University Hospital Schleswig Holstein, Kiel, Germany.

Essential tremor (ET) is a common cause of significant disability, but its etiologies and pathogenesis are poorly understood. Research has been hampered by the variable definition of ET and by non-standardized research approaches. The National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke (USA) invited experts in ET and related fields to discuss current knowledge, controversies, and gaps in our understanding of ET and to develop recommendations for future research. Discussion focused on phenomenology and phenotypes, therapies and clinical trials, pathophysiology, pathology, and genetics. Across all areas, the need for collaborative and coordinated research on a multinational level was expressed. Standardized data collection using common data elements for genetic, clinical, neurophysiological, and pathological studies was recommended. Large cohorts of patients should be studied prospectively to collect bio-samples, characterize the natural history of the clinical syndrome including patient-oriented outcomes, investigate potential etiologies of various phenotypes, and identify pathophysiological mechanisms. In particular, cellular and system-level mechanisms of tremor oscillations should be elucidated because they may yield effective therapeutic targets and biomarkers. A neuropathology consortium was recommended to standardize postmortem analysis and further characterize neuropathological observations in the cerebellum and elsewhere. Furthermore, genome-wide association studies on large patient cohorts (>10,000 patients) may allow the identification of common genes contributing to risk, and whole exome or genome sequencing may enable the identification of genetic risk and causal mutations in cohorts and well-characterized families.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.parkreldis.2016.10.002DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5271603PMC
December 2016

Clinical and demographic characteristics related to onset site and spread of cervical dystonia.

Mov Disord 2016 12 18;31(12):1874-1882. Epub 2016 Oct 18.

Department of Neurology, Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, Missouri, USA.

Background: Clinical characteristics of isolated idiopathic cervical dystonia such as onset site and spread to and from additional body regions have been addressed in single-site studies with limited data and incomplete or variable dissociation of focal and segmental subtypes. The objectives of this study were to characterize the clinical characteristics and demographics of isolated idiopathic cervical dystonia in the largest standardized multicenter cohort.

Methods: The Dystonia Coalition, through a consortium of 37 recruiting sites in North America, Europe, and Australia, recruited 1477 participants with focal (60.7%) or segmental (39.3%) cervical dystonia on examination. Clinical and demographic characteristics were evaluated in terms of the body region of dystonia onset and spread.

Results: Site of dystonia onset was: (1) focal neck only (78.5%), (2) focal onset elsewhere with later segmental spread to neck (13.3%), and (3) segmental onset with initial neck involvement (8.2%). Frequency of spread from focal cervical to segmental dystonia (22.8%) was consistent with prior reports, but frequency of segmental onset with initial neck involvement was substantially higher than the 3% previously reported. Cervical dystonia with focal neck onset, more than other subtypes, was associated with spread and tremor of any type. Sensory tricks were less frequent in cervical dystonia with segmental components, and segmental cervical onset occurred at an older age.

Conclusions: Subgroups had modest but significant differences in the clinical characteristics that may represent different clinical entities or pathophysiologic subtypes. These findings are critical for design and implementation of studies to describe, treat, or modify disease progression in idiopathic isolated cervical dystonia. © 2016 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mds.26817DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5154862PMC
December 2016

Effect of Deutetrabenazine on Chorea Among Patients With Huntington Disease: A Randomized Clinical Trial.

JAMA 2016 Jul;316(1):40-50

Boston University Medical Campus, Boston, Massachusetts.

Importance: Deutetrabenazine is a novel molecule containing deuterium, which attenuates CYP2D6 metabolism and increases active metabolite half-lives and may therefore lead to stable systemic exposure while preserving key pharmacological activity.

Objective: To evaluate efficacy and safety of deutetrabenazine treatment to control chorea associated with Huntington disease.

Design, Setting, And Participants: Ninety ambulatory adults diagnosed with manifest Huntington disease and a baseline total maximal chorea score of 8 or higher (range, 0-28; lower score indicates less chorea) were enrolled from August 2013 to August 2014 and randomized to receive deutetrabenazine (n = 45) or placebo (n = 45) in a double-blind fashion at 34 Huntington Study Group sites.

Interventions: Deutetrabenazine or placebo was titrated to optimal dose level over 8 weeks and maintained for 4 weeks, followed by a 1-week washout.

Main Outcomes And Measures: Primary end point was the total maximal chorea score change from baseline (the average of values from the screening and day-0 visits) to maintenance therapy (the average of values from the week 9 and 12 visits) obtained by in-person visits. This study was designed to detect a 2.7-unit treatment difference in scores. The secondary end points, assessed hierarchically, were the proportion of patients who achieved treatment success on the Patient Global Impression of Change (PGIC) and on the Clinical Global Impression of Change (CGIC), the change in 36-Item Short Form- physical functioning subscale score (SF-36), and the change in the Berg Balance Test.

Results: Ninety patients with Huntington disease (mean age, 53.7 years; 40 women [44.4%]) were enrolled. In the deutetrabenazine group, the mean total maximal chorea scores improved from 12.1 (95% CI, 11.2-12.9) to 7.7 (95% CI, 6.5-8.9), whereas in the placebo group, scores improved from 13.2 (95% CI, 12.2-14.3) to 11.3 (95% CI, 10.0-12.5); the mean between-group difference was -2.5 units (95% CI, -3.7 to -1.3) (P < .001). Treatment success, as measured by the PGIC, occurred in 23 patients (51%) in the deutetrabenazine group vs 9 (20%) in the placebo group (P = .002). As measured by the CGIC, treatment success occurred in 19 patients (42%) in the deutetrabenazine group vs 6 (13%) in the placebo group (P = .002). In the deutetrabenazine group, the mean SF-36 physical functioning subscale scores decreased from 47.5 (95% CI, 44.3-50.8) to 47.4 (44.3-50.5), whereas in the placebo group, scores decreased from 43.2 (95% CI, 40.2-46.3) to 39.9 (95% CI, 36.2-43.6), for a treatment benefit of 4.3 (95% CI, 0.4 to 8.3) (P = .03). There was no difference between groups (mean difference of 1.0 unit; 95% CI, -0.3 to 2.3; P = .14), for improvement in the Berg Balance Test, which improved by 2.2 units (95% CI, 1.3-3.1) in the deutetrabenazine group and by 1.3 units (95% CI, 0.4-2.2) in the placebo group. Adverse event rates were similar for deutetrabenazine and placebo, including depression, anxiety, and akathisia.

Conclusions And Relevance: Among patients with chorea associated with Huntington disease, the use of deutetrabenazine compared with placebo resulted in improved motor signs at 12 weeks. Further research is needed to assess the clinical importance of the effect size and to determine longer-term efficacy and safety.

Trial Registration: clinicaltrials.gov Identifier: NCT01795859.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1001/jama.2016.8655DOI Listing
July 2016

Transducer-based evaluation of tremor.

Mov Disord 2016 09 6;31(9):1327-36. Epub 2016 Jun 6.

Department of Neurology, Southern Illinois University School of Medicine, Springfield, Illinois, USA.

The International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society established a task force on tremor that reviewed the use of transducer-based measures in the quantification and characterization of tremor. Studies of accelerometry, electromyography, activity monitoring, gyroscopy, digitizing tablet-based measures, vocal acoustic analysis, and several other transducer-based methods were identified by searching PubMed.gov. The availability, use, acceptability, reliability, validity, and responsiveness were reviewed for each measure using the following criteria: (1) used in the assessment of tremor; (2) used in published studies by people other than the developers; and (3) adequate clinimetric testing. Accelerometry, gyroscopy, electromyography, and digitizing tablet-based measures fulfilled all three criteria. Compared to rating scales, transducers are far more sensitive to changes in tremor amplitude and frequency, but they do not appear to be more capable of detecting a change that exceeds random variability in tremor amplitude (minimum detectable change). The use of transducer-based measures requires careful attention to their limitations and validity in a particular clinical or research setting. © 2016 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mds.26671DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5014626PMC
September 2016

Proposing a Parkinson's disease-specific tremor scale from the MDS-UPDRS.

Mov Disord 2015 Jul 11;30(8):1139-43. Epub 2015 Jun 11.

National Center of Epidemiology and CIBERNED, Institute of Health Carlos III, Madrid, Spain.

Background: This article proposes an International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society (MDS)-UPDRS tremor-based scale and describes its measurement properties, with a view to developing an improved scale for assessing tremor in Parkinson's disease (PD).

Methods: This was a cross-sectional, multicenter study of 435 PD patients. Rasch analysis was performed on the 11 MDS-UPDRS tremor items. Construct validity, precision, and test-retest reliability were also analyzed.

Results: After some modifications, which included removal of an item owing to redundancy, the obtained MDS-UPDRS tremor scale showed moderate reliability, unidimensionality, absence of differential item functioning, satisfactory convergent validity with medication, and better precision than the raw sum score. However, the scale displayed a floor effect and a need for more items measuring lower levels of tremor.

Conclusions: The MDS-UPDRS tremor scale provides linear scores that can be used to assess tremor in PD in a valid, reliable way. The scale might benefit from modifications and studies that analyze its responsiveness.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mds.26271DOI Listing
July 2015

Progressive cognitive deficit, motor impairment and striatal pathology in a transgenic Huntington disease monkey model from infancy to adulthood.

PLoS One 2015 12;10(5):e0122335. Epub 2015 May 12.

Department of Psychology, Emory University School of Medicine, Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America; Division of Developmental and Cognitive Neuroscience, Yerkes National Primate Center, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia, United States of America.

One of the roadblocks to developing effective therapeutics for Huntington disease (HD) is the lack of animal models that develop progressive clinical traits comparable to those seen in patients. Here we report a longitudinal study that encompasses cognitive and motor assessment, and neuroimaging of a group of transgenic HD and control monkeys from infancy to adulthood. Along with progressive cognitive and motor impairment, neuroimaging revealed a progressive reduction in striatal volume. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy at 48 months of age revealed a decrease of N-acetylaspartate (NAA), further suggesting neuronal damage/loss in the striatum. Postmortem neuropathological analyses revealed significant neuronal loss in the striatum. Our results indicate that HD monkeys share similar disease patterns with HD patients, making them potentially suitable as a preclinical HD animal model.
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http://journals.plos.org/plosone/article?id=10.1371/journal.pone.0122335PLOS
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4428630PMC
February 2016

A two years longitudinal study of a transgenic Huntington disease monkey.

BMC Neurosci 2014 Mar 3;15:36. Epub 2014 Mar 3.

Division of Neuropharmacology and Neurologic Diseases, Yerkes National Primate Research Center, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia.

Background: A two-year longitudinal study composed of morphometric MRI measures and cognitive behavioral evaluation was performed on a transgenic Huntington's disease (HD) monkey. rHD1, a transgenic HD monkey expressing exon 1 of the human gene encoding huntingtin (HTT) with 29 CAG repeats regulated by a human polyubiquitin C promoter was used together with four age-matched wild-type control monkeys. This is the first study on a primate model of human HD based on longitudinal clinical measurements.

Results: Changes in striatal and hippocampal volumes in rHD1 were observed with progressive impairment in motor functions and cognitive decline, including deficits in learning stimulus-reward associations, recognition memory and spatial memory. The results demonstrate a progressive cognitive decline and morphometric changes in the striatum and hippocampus in a transgenic HD monkey.

Conclusions: This is the first study on a primate model of human HD based on longitudinal clinical measurements. While this study is based a single HD monkey, an ongoing longitudinal study with additional HD monkeys will be important for the confirmation of our findings. A nonhuman primate model of HD could complement other animal models of HD to better understand the pathogenesis of HD and future development of diagnostics and therapeutics through longitudinal assessment.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/1471-2202-15-36DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC4015530PMC
March 2014

Key issues in essential tremor genetics research: Where are we now and how can we move forward?

Authors:
Claudia M Testa

Tremor Other Hyperkinet Mov (N Y) 2013 22;3. Epub 2013 Jan 22.

Virginia Commonwealth University, Parkinson's and Movement Disorders Center, Richmond Virginia, USA.

Background: Genetics research is an avenue towards understanding essential tremor (ET). Advances have been made in genetic linkage and association: there are three reported ET susceptibility loci, and mixed but growing data on risk associations. However, causal mutations have not been forthcoming. This disappointing lack of progress has opened productive discussions on challenges in ET and specifically ET genetics research, including fundamental assumptions in the field.

Methods: This article reviews the ET genetics literature, results to date, the open questions in ET genetics and the current challenges in addressing them.

Results: SEVERAL INHERENT ET FEATURES COMPLICATE GENETIC LINKAGE AND ASSOCIATION STUDIES: high potential phenocopy rates, inaccurate tremor self-reporting, and ET misdiagnoses are examples. Increasing use of direct examination data for subjects, family members, and controls is one current response. Smaller moves towards expanding ET phenotype research concepts into non-tremor features, clinically disputed ET subsets, and testing phenotype features instead of clinical diagnosis against genetic data are gradually occurring. The field has already moved to considering complex trait mechanisms requiring detection of combinations of rare genetic variants. Hypotheses may move further to consider novel mechanisms of inheritance, such as epigenetics.

Discussion: It is an exciting time in ET genetics as investigators start moving past assumptions underlying both phenotype and genetics experimental contributions, overcoming challenges to collaboration, and engaging the ET community. Multicenter collaborative efforts comprising rich longitudinal prospective phenotype data and neuropathologic analysis combined with the latest in genetics experimental design and technology will be the next wave in the field.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.7916/D8Q23Z0ZDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3582856PMC
July 2013

Seizures in juvenile Huntington's disease: frequency and characterization in a multicenter cohort.

Mov Disord 2012 Dec 2;27(14):1797-800. Epub 2012 Nov 2.

Department of Neurology, Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond, Virginia 23298-0539, USA.

Little is known about the epilepsy that often occurs in the juvenile form of Huntington's disease (HD), but is absent from the adult-onset form. The primary aim of this study was to characterize the seizures in juvenile HD (JHD) subjects with regard to frequency, semiology, defining EEG characteristics, and response to antiepileptic agents. A multicenter, retrospective cohort was identified by database query and/or chart review. Data on age of HD onset, primary HD manifestations, number of CAG repeats, the presence or absence of seizures, seizure type(s), antiepileptic drugs used, subjects' response to antiepileptic drugs (AEDs), and EEG results were assembled, where available. Ninety subjects with genetically confirmed JHD were included. Seizures were present in 38% of subjects and were more likely to occur with younger ages of HD onset. Generalized tonic-clonic seizures were the most common seizure type, followed by tonic, myoclonic, and staring spells. Multiple seizure types commonly occurred within the same individual. Data on EEG findings and AED usage are presented. Seizure risk in JHD increases with younger age of HD onset. Our ability to draw firm conclusions about defining EEG characteristics and response to AEDs was limited by the retrospective nature of the study. Future prospective studies are required.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mds.25237DOI Listing
December 2012

Genetic variants of α-synuclein are not associated with essential tremor.

Mov Disord 2011 Dec 24;26(14):2552-6. Epub 2011 Oct 24.

Department of Neuroscience, Mayo Clinic College of Medicine, Jacksonville, Florida, USA.

Background: Given the overlap between Parkinson's disease and essential tremor, we examined genetic variants in α-synuclein (SNCA) as risk determinants for essential tremor.

Methods: Samples from 661 essential tremor subjects and 1316 control subjects from 4 participating North American sites were included in this study. Parkinson's disease samples (n = 427) were compared against controls. Twenty variants were selected for association analysis within the SNCA locus. Individual logistic regression analyses against essential tremor diagnosis were run for each variant and then combined using meta-analysis.

Results: Our results do not show a significant association between variants in the SNCA locus and risk of essential tremor, whereas the established association of SNCA variants with Parkinson's disease risk was observed.

Conclusions: Whereas genetic factors are likely to play a large role in essential tremor pathogenesis, our results do not support a role for common SNCA genetic variants in risk for essential tremor.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mds.23909DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3677575PMC
December 2011

LINGO1 and LINGO2 variants are associated with essential tremor and Parkinson disease.

Neurogenetics 2010 Oct 6;11(4):401-8. Epub 2010 Apr 6.

Department of Neuroscience, Mayo Clinic, 4500 San Pablo Road, Jacksonville, FL 32224, USA.

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.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10048-010-0241-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3930084PMC
October 2010

Variant in the sequence of the LINGO1 gene confers risk of essential tremor.

Nat Genet 2009 Mar 1;41(3):277-9. Epub 2009 Feb 1.

deCODE genetics, Sturlugata 8, IS-101 Reykjavík, Iceland.

We identified a marker in LINGO1 showing genome-wide significant association (P = 1.2 x 10(-9), odds ratio = 1.55) with essential tremor. LINGO1 has potent, negative regulatory influences on neuronal survival and is also important in regulating both central-nervous-system axon regeneration and oligodendrocyte maturation. Increased axon integrity observed in Lingo1 mouse [corrected] knockout models highlights the potential role of LINGO1 in the pathophysiology of ET [corrected]
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/ng.299DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3740956PMC
March 2009

Mechanism of toxicity of pesticides acting at complex I: relevance to environmental etiologies of Parkinson's disease.

J Neurochem 2007 Mar 4;100(6):1469-79. Epub 2007 Jan 4.

Center for Neurodegenerative Disease, Rollins School of Public Health, Atlanta, Georgia 15213, USA.

Parkinson's disease (PD) has been linked to mitochondrial dysfunction and pesticide exposure. The pesticide rotenone (ROT) inhibits complex I and reproduces features of PD in animal models, suggesting that environmental agents that inhibit complex I may contribute to PD. We have previously demonstrated that ROT toxicity is dependent upon complex I inhibition and that oxidative stress is the primary mechanism of toxicity. In this study, we examined the in vitro toxicity and mechanism of action of several putative complex I inhibitors that are commonly used as pesticides. The rank order of toxicity of pesticides to neuroblastoma cells was pyridaben > rotenone > fenpyroximate > fenazaquin > tebunfenpyrad. A similar order of potency was observed for reduction of ATP levels and competition for (3)H-dihydrorotenone (DHR) binding to complex I, with the exception of pyridaben (PYR). Neuroblastoma cells stably expressing the ROT-insensitive NADH dehydrogenase of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (NDI1) were resistant to these pesticides, demonstrating the requirement of complex I inhibition for toxicity. We further found that PYR was a more potent inhibitor of mitochondrial respiration and caused more oxidative damage than ROT. The oxidative damage could be attenuated by NDI1 or by the antioxidants alpha-tocopherol and coenzyme Q(10). PYR was also highly toxic to midbrain organotypic slices. These data demonstrate that, in addition to ROT, several commercially used pesticides directly inhibit complex I, cause oxidative damage, and suggest that further study is warranted into environmental agents that inhibit complex I for their potential role in PD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/j.1471-4159.2006.04333.xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8669833PMC
March 2007

Rotenone induces oxidative stress and dopaminergic neuron damage in organotypic substantia nigra cultures.

Brain Res Mol Brain Res 2005 Mar 6;134(1):109-18. Epub 2005 Jan 6.

Center for Neurodegenerative Disease, Emory University, Atlanta, GA 30322, USA.

Rotenone, a pesticide and complex I inhibitor, causes nigrostriatal degeneration similar to Parkinson disease pathology in a chronic, systemic, in vivo rodent model [M. Alam, W.J. Schmidt, Rotenone destroys dopaminergic neurons and induces parkinsonian symptoms in rats, Behav. Brain Res. 136 (2002) 317-324; R. Betarbet, T.B. Sherer, G. MacKenzie, M. Garcia-Osuna, A.V. Panov, J.T. Greenamyre, Chronic systemic pesticide exposure reproduces features of Parkinson's disease, Nat. Neurosci. 3 (2000) 1301-1306; S.M. Fleming, C. Zhu, P.O. Fernagut, A. Mehta, C.D. DiCarlo, R.L. Seaman, M.F. Chesselet, Behavioral and immunohistochemical effects of chronic intravenous and subcutaneous infusions of varying doses of rotenone, Exp. Neurol. 187 (2004) 418-429; T.B. Sherer, J.H. Kim, R. Betarbet, J.T. Greenamyre, Subcutaneous rotenone exposure causes highly selective dopaminergic degeneration and alpha-synuclein aggregation, Exp. Neurol. 179 (2003) 9-16.]. To better investigate the role of mitochondria and complex I inhibition in chronic, progressive neurodegenerative disease, we developed methods for long-term culture of rodent postnatal midbrain organotypic slices. Chronic complex I inhibition over weeks by low dose (10-50 nM) rotenone in this system lead to dose- and time-dependent destruction of substantia nigra pars compacta neuron processes, morphologic changes, some neuronal loss, and decreased tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) protein levels. Chronic complex I inhibition also caused oxidative damage to proteins, measured by protein carbonyl levels. This oxidative damage was blocked by the antioxidant alpha-tocopherol (vitamin E). At the same time, alpha-tocopherol also blocked rotenone-induced reductions in TH protein and TH immunohistochemical changes. Thus, oxidative damage is a primary mechanism of mitochondrial toxicity in intact dopaminergic neurons. The organotypic culture system allows close study of this and other interacting mechanisms over a prolonged time period in mature dopaminergic neurons with intact processes, surrounding glia, and synaptic connections.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.molbrainres.2004.11.007DOI Listing
March 2005

Mechanism of toxicity in rotenone models of Parkinson's disease.

J Neurosci 2003 Nov;23(34):10756-64

Center for Neurodegenerative Disease, Emory University, Atlanta, Georgia 30322, USA.

Exposure of rats to the pesticide and complex I inhibitor rotenone reproduces features of Parkinson's disease, including selective nigrostriatal dopaminergic degeneration and alpha-synuclein-positive cytoplasmic inclusions (Betarbet et al., 2000; Sherer et al., 2003). Here, we examined mechanisms of rotenone toxicity using three model systems. In SK-N-MC human neuroblastoma cells, rotenone (10 nm to 1 microm) caused dose-dependent ATP depletion, oxidative damage, and death. To determine the molecular site of action of rotenone, cells were transfected with the rotenone-insensitive single-subunit NADH dehydrogenase of Saccharomyces cerevisiae (NDI1), which incorporates into the mammalian ETC and acts as a "replacement" for endogenous complex I. In response to rotenone, NDI1-transfected cells did not show mitochondrial impairment, oxidative damage, or death, demonstrating that these effects of rotenone were caused by specific interactions at complex I. Although rotenone caused modest ATP depletion, equivalent ATP loss induced by 2-deoxyglucose was without toxicity, arguing that bioenergetic defects were not responsible for cell death. In contrast, reducing oxidative damage with antioxidants, or by NDI1 transfection, blocked cell death. To determine the relevance of rotenone-induced oxidative damage to dopaminergic neuronal death, we used a chronic midbrain slice culture model. In this system, rotenone caused oxidative damage and dopaminergic neuronal loss, effects blocked by alpha-tocopherol. Finally, brains from rotenone-treated animals demonstrated oxidative damage, most notably in midbrain and olfactory bulb, dopaminergic regions affected by Parkinson's disease. These results, using three models of increasing complexity, demonstrate the involvement of oxidative damage in rotenone toxicity and support the evaluation of antioxidant therapies for Parkinson's disease.
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http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6740985PMC
November 2003
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