Publications by authors named "Sylvia Boesch"

110 Publications

Biallelic AOPEP Loss-of-Function Variants Cause Progressive Dystonia with Prominent Limb Involvement.

Mov Disord 2021 Oct 1. Epub 2021 Oct 1.

Department of Neurology, Medical University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.

Background: Monogenic causes of isolated dystonia are heterogeneous. Assembling cohorts of affected individuals sufficiently large to establish new gene-disease relationships can be challenging.

Objective: We sought to expand the catalogue of monogenic etiologies for isolated dystonia.

Methods: After the discovery of a candidate variant in a multicenter exome-sequenced cohort of affected individuals with dystonia, we queried online platforms and genomic data repositories worldwide to identify subjects with matching genotypic profiles.

Results: Seven different biallelic loss-of-function variants in AOPEP were detected in five probands from four unrelated families with strongly overlapping phenotypes. In one proband, we observed a homozygous nonsense variant (c.1477C>T [p.Arg493*]). A second proband harbored compound heterozygous nonsense variants (c.763C>T [p.Arg255*]; c.777G>A [p.Trp259*]), whereas a third proband possessed a frameshift variant (c.696_697delAG [p.Ala234Serfs*5]) in trans with a splice-disrupting alteration (c.2041-1G>A). Two probands (siblings) from a fourth family shared compound heterozygous frameshift alleles (c.1215delT [p.Val406Cysfs*14]; c.1744delA [p.Met582Cysfs*6]). All variants were rare and expected to result in truncated proteins devoid of functionally important amino acid sequence. AOPEP, widely expressed in developing and adult human brain, encodes a zinc-dependent aminopeptidase, a member of a class of proteolytic enzymes implicated in synaptogenesis and neural maintenance. The probands presented with disabling progressive dystonia predominantly affecting upper and lower extremities, with variable involvement of craniocervical muscles. Dystonia was unaccompanied by any additional symptoms in three families, whereas the fourth family presented co-occurring late-onset parkinsonism.

Conclusions: Our findings suggest a likely causative role of predicted inactivating biallelic AOPEP variants in cases of autosomal recessive dystonia. Additional studies are warranted to understand the pathophysiology associated with loss-of-function variation in AOPEP. © 2021 The Authors. Movement Disorders published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mds.28804DOI Listing
October 2021

Blood DNA methylation provides an accurate biomarker of KMT2B-related dystonia and predicts onset.

Brain 2021 Sep 30. Epub 2021 Sep 30.

Institute of Neurogenomics (ING), Helmholtz Zentrum München, German Research Center for Environmental Health, 85764 Neuherberg, Germany.

Dystonia is a prevalent, heterogeneous movement disorder characterized by involuntarily abnormal postures. Biomarkers of dystonia are notoriously lacking. Here, a biomarker is reported for histone lysine methyltransferase (KMT2B)-deficient dystonia, a leading subtype among the individually rare monogenic dystonias. It was derived by applying a support vector machine to an episignature of 113 DNA CpG sites which, in blood cells, showed significant epigenome-wide association with KMT2B deficiency and at least 1x log-fold change of methylation. This classifier was accurate both when tested on the general population and on samples with various other deficiencies of the epigenetic machinery, thus allowing for definitive evaluation of variants of uncertain significance and identifying patients who may profit from deep brain stimulation, a highly successful treatment in KMT2B-deficient dystonia. Methylation was increased in KMT2B deficiency at all 113 CpG sites. The coefficients of variation of the normalized methylation levels at these sites also perfectly classified the samples with KMT2B-deficient dystonia. Moreover, the mean of the normalized methylation levels correlated well with the age at onset of dystonia (p = 0.003) - being lower in samples with late or incomplete penetrance-thus serving as a predictor of disease onset and severity. Similarly, it may also function in monitoring the recently envisioned treatment of KMT2B deficiency by inhibition of DNA methylation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awab360DOI Listing
September 2021

Female sexual dysfunction in multiple system atrophy: a prospective cohort study.

Clin Auton Res 2021 Sep 7. Epub 2021 Sep 7.

Department of Neurology, Medical University of Innsbruck, Anichstrasse 35, 6020, Innsbruck, Austria.

Purpose: The diagnosis of probable multiple system atrophy relies on the presence of severe cardiovascular or urogenital autonomic failure. Erectile dysfunction is required to fulfil the latter criterion in men, whereas no corresponding item is established for women. In this study, we aimed to investigate sexual dysfunction in women with multiple system atrophy.

Methods: We administered the Female Sexual Function Index questionnaire and interviewed women with multiple system atrophy and age-matched controls regarding the presence of "genital hyposensitivity."

Results: We recruited 25 women with multiple system atrophy and 42 controls. Female Sexual Function Index scores in sexually active women with multiple system atrophy were significantly lower (multiple system atrophy = 10; 15.4, 95% CI [10.1, 22.1], controls = 37; 26.1 [24.1, 28.1], p = 0.0004). The lowest scores concerned the domains of desire, arousal and lubrication. Genital hyposensitivity was reported by 56% of the patients with multiple system atrophy and 9% controls (p < 0.0001).

Conclusions: Sexual dysfunction is highly prevalent in women with multiple system atrophy. Screening for disturbances in specific sexual domains should be implemented in the clinical evaluation of women with suggestive motor symptoms.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10286-021-00825-2DOI Listing
September 2021

Brain Structure and Degeneration Staging in Friedreich Ataxia: Magnetic Resonance Imaging Volumetrics from the ENIGMA-Ataxia Working Group.

Ann Neurol 2021 Oct 17;90(4):570-583. Epub 2021 Sep 17.

NSRO Department, University of Naples Federico II, Naples, Italy.

Objective: Friedreich ataxia (FRDA) is an inherited neurological disease defined by progressive movement incoordination. We undertook a comprehensive characterization of the spatial profile and progressive evolution of structural brain abnormalities in people with FRDA.

Methods: A coordinated international analysis of regional brain volume using magnetic resonance imaging data charted the whole-brain profile, interindividual variability, and temporal staging of structural brain differences in 248 individuals with FRDA and 262 healthy controls.

Results: The brainstem, dentate nucleus region, and superior and inferior cerebellar peduncles showed the greatest reductions in volume relative to controls (Cohen d = 1.5-2.6). Cerebellar gray matter alterations were most pronounced in lobules I-VI (d = 0.8), whereas cerebral differences occurred most prominently in precentral gyri (d = 0.6) and corticospinal tracts (d = 1.4). Earlier onset age predicted less volume in the motor cerebellum (r  = 0.35) and peduncles (r  = 0.36). Disease duration and severity correlated with volume deficits in the dentate nucleus region, brainstem, and superior/inferior cerebellar peduncles (r  = -0.49); subgrouping showed these to be robust and early features of FRDA, and strong candidates for further biomarker validation. Cerebral white matter abnormalities, particularly in corticospinal pathways, emerge as intermediate disease features. Cerebellar and cerebral gray matter loss, principally targeting motor and sensory systems, preferentially manifests later in the disease course.

Interpretation: FRDA is defined by an evolving spatial profile of neuroanatomical changes beyond primary pathology in the cerebellum and spinal cord, in line with its progressive clinical course. The design, interpretation, and generalization of research studies and clinical trials must consider neuroanatomical staging and associated interindividual variability in brain measures. ANN NEUROL 2021;90:570-583.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ana.26200DOI Listing
October 2021

Dystonia as a prominent presenting feature in developmental and epileptic encephalopathies: A case series.

Parkinsonism Relat Disord 2021 Sep 11;90:73-78. Epub 2021 Aug 11.

Institute of Neurogenomics, Helmholtz Zentrum München, Munich, Germany; Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany; School of Medicine, Institute of Human Genetics. Electronic address:

Introduction: Although there has been increasing recognition of the occurrence of non-epileptic involuntary movements in developmental and epileptic encephalopathies (DEEs), the spectrum of dystonic presentations associated with these conditions remains poorly described. We sought to expand the catalogue of dystonia-predominant phenotypes in monogenic DEEs, building on the recently introduced concept of an epilepsy-movement disorder spectrum.

Methods: Cases were identified from a whole-exome-sequenced cohort of 45 pediatric index patients with complex dystonia (67% sequenced as parent-child trios). Review of molecular findings in DEE-associated genes was performed. For five individuals with identified DEE-causing variants, detailed information about presenting phenotypic features and the natural history of disease was obtained.

Results: De-novo pathogenic and likely pathogenic missense variants in GABRA1, GABBR2, GNAO1, and FOXG1 gave rise to infantile-onset persistent and paroxysmal dystonic manifestations, beginning in the limb or truncal musculature and progressing gradually to a generalized state. Coexisting, less prominent movement-disorder symptoms were observed and included myoclonic, ballistic, and stereotypic abnormal movements as well as choreoathetosis. Dystonia dominated over epileptic neurodevelopmental comorbidities in all four subjects and represented the primary indication for molecular genetic analysis. We also report the unusual case of an adult female patient with dystonia, tremor, and mild learning disability who was found to harbor a pathogenic frameshift variant in MECP2.

Conclusions: Dystonia can be a leading clinical manifestation in different DEEs. A monogenic basis of disease should be considered on the association of dystonia and developmental delay-epilepsy presentations, justifying a molecular screening for variants in DEE-associated genes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.parkreldis.2021.08.007DOI Listing
September 2021

The rare and the common: An Austrian DRPLA family harboring the European haplotype.

Parkinsonism Relat Disord 2021 06 12;87:119-121. Epub 2021 May 12.

Center for Rare Neurological Movement Disorders, Department of Neurology, Medical University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.

Dentatorubral-pallidoluysian atrophy (DRPLA) is a CAG trinucleotide repeat expansion disorder with an autosomal-dominant mode of inheritance and very low prevalence in Europe. We herein report the clinical characteristics of the first Austrian DRPLA family. Genetic analysis revealed the presence of a common European haplotype, suggesting a founder mutation in Europe.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.parkreldis.2021.04.024DOI Listing
June 2021

Scoring Algorithm-Based Genomic Testing in Dystonia: A Prospective Validation Study.

Mov Disord 2021 08 5;36(8):1959-1964. Epub 2021 May 5.

Klinik für Neurologie, Asklepios Fachklinikum Stadtroda, Stadtroda, Germany.

Background: Despite the established value of genomic testing strategies, practice guidelines for their use do not exist in many indications.

Objectives: We sought to validate a recently introduced scoring algorithm for dystonia, predicting the diagnostic utility of whole-exome sequencing (WES) based on individual phenotypic aspects (age-at-onset, body distribution, presenting comorbidity).

Methods: We prospectively enrolled a set of 209 dystonia-affected families and obtained summary scores (0-5 points) according to the algorithm. Singleton (N = 146), duo (N = 11), and trio (N = 52) WES data were generated to identify genetic diagnoses.

Results: Diagnostic yield was highest (51%) among individuals with a summary score of 5, corresponding to a manifestation of early-onset segmental or generalized dystonia with coexisting non-movement disorder-related neurological symptoms. Sensitivity and specificity at the previously suggested threshold for implementation of WES (3 points) was 96% and 52%, with area under the curve of 0.81.

Conclusions: The algorithm is a useful predictive tool and could be integrated into dystonia routine diagnostic protocols. © 2021 The Authors. Movement Disorders published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of International Parkinson Movement Disorder Society.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mds.28614DOI Listing
August 2021

Progression characteristics of the European Friedreich's Ataxia Consortium for Translational Studies (EFACTS): a 4-year cohort study.

Lancet Neurol 2021 05 23;20(5):362-372. Epub 2021 Mar 23.

Department of Neurology, RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany; JARA-BRAIN Institute Molecular Neuroscience and Neuroimaging, Forschungszentrum Jülich and RWTH Aachen University, Aachen, Germany.

Background: The European Friedreich's Ataxia Consortium for Translational Studies (EFACTS) investigates the natural history of Friedreich's ataxia. We aimed to assess progression characteristics and to identify patient groups with differential progression rates based on longitudinal 4-year data to inform upcoming clinical trials in Friedreich's ataxia.

Methods: EFACTS is a prospective, observational cohort study based on an ongoing and open-ended registry. Patients with genetically confirmed Friedreich's ataxia were seen annually at 11 clinical centres in seven European countries (Austria, Belgium, France, Germany, Italy, Spain, and the UK). Data from baseline to 4-year follow-up were included in the current analysis. Our primary endpoints were the Scale for the Assessment and Rating of Ataxia (SARA) and the activities of daily living (ADL). Linear mixed-effect models were used to analyse annual disease progression for the entire cohort and subgroups defined by age of onset and ambulatory abilities. Power calculations were done for potential trial designs. This study is registered with ClinicalTrials.gov, NCT02069509.

Findings: Between Sept 15, 2010, and Nov 20, 2018, of 914 individuals assessed for eligibility, 602 patients were included. Of these, 552 (92%) patients contributed data with at least one follow-up visit. Annual progression rate for SARA was 0·82 points (SE 0·05) in the overall cohort, and higher in patients who were ambulatory (1·12 [0·07]) than non-ambulatory (0·50 [0·07]). ADL worsened by 0·93 (SE 0·05) points per year in the entire cohort, with similar progression rates in patients who were ambulatory (0·94 [0·07]) and non-ambulatory (0·91 [0·08]). Although both SARA and ADL showed slightly greater worsening in patients with typical onset (symptom onset at ≤24 years) than those with late onset (symptom onset ≥25 years), differences in progression slopes were not significant. For a 2-year parallel-group trial, 230 (115 per group) patients would be required to detect a 50% reduction in SARA progression at 80% power: 118 (59 per group) if only individuals who are ambulatory are included. With ADL as the primary outcome, 190 (95 per group) patients with Friedreich's ataxia would be needed, and fewer patients would be required if only individuals with early-onset are included.

Interpretation: Our findings for stage-dependent progression rates have important implications for clinicians and researchers, as they provide reliable outcome measures to monitor disease progression, and enable tailored sample size calculation to guide upcoming clinical trial designs in Friedreich's ataxia.

Funding: European Commission, Voyager Therapeutics, and EuroAtaxia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1474-4422(21)00027-2DOI Listing
May 2021

From Genotype to Phenotype: Expanding the Clinical Spectrum of Variants in the Era of Next Generation Sequencing.

Front Neurol 2021 2;12:639994. Epub 2021 Mar 2.

Center for Rare Movement Disorders Innsbruck, Department of Neurology, Medical University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.

Ion channel dysfunction is a key pathological substrate of episodic neurological disorders. A classical gene associated to paroxysmal movement disorders is , which codes for the pore-forming subunit of the neuronal calcium channel P/Q. Non-polyglutamine variants underlie familial hemiplegic ataxia type 1 (FHM1) and episodic ataxia type 2 (EA2). Classical paroxysmal manifestations of FHM1 are migraine attacks preceded by motor aura consisting of hemiparesis, aphasia, and disturbances of consciousness until coma. Patients with EA2 suffer of recurrent episodes of vertigo, unbalance, diplopia, and vomiting. Beyond these typical presentations, several reports highlighted manifold clinical features associated with P/Q channelopathies, from chronic progressive cerebellar ataxia to epilepsy and psychiatric disturbances. These manifestations may often outlast the burden of classical episodic symptoms leading to pitfalls in the diagnostic work-up. Lately, the spreading of next generation sequencing techniques linked variants to an even broader phenotypic spectrum including early developmental delay, autism spectrum disorders, epileptic encephalopathy, and early onset paroxysmal dystonia. The age-dependency represents a striking new aspect of these phenotypes und highlights a pivotal role for P/Q channels in the development of the central nervous system in a defined time window. While several reviews addressed the clinical presentation and treatment of FHM1 and EA2, an overview of the newly described age-dependent manifestations is lacking. In this Mini-Review we present a clinical update, delineate genotype-phenotype correlations as well as summarize evidence on the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying the expanded phenotype associated with variants.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fneur.2021.639994DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7960780PMC
March 2021

Clinically relevant copy-number variants in exome sequencing data of patients with dystonia.

Parkinsonism Relat Disord 2021 03 12;84:129-134. Epub 2021 Feb 12.

Lehrstuhl für Sozialpädiatrie, Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany; Kbo-Kinderzentrum München, Munich, Germany.

Introduction: Next-generation sequencing is now used on a routine basis for molecular testing but studies on copy-number variant (CNV) detection from next-generation sequencing data are underrepresented. Utilizing an existing whole-exome sequencing (WES) dataset, we sought to investigate the contribution of rare CNVs to the genetic causality of dystonia.

Methods: The CNV read-depth analysis tool ExomeDepth was applied to the exome sequences of 953 unrelated patients with dystonia (600 with isolated dystonia and 353 with combined dystonia; 33% with additional neurological involvement). We prioritized rare CNVs that affected known disease genes and/or were known to be associated with defined microdeletion/microduplication syndromes. Pathogenicity assessment of CNVs was based on recently published standards of the American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics and the Clinical Genome Resource.

Results: We identified pathogenic or likely pathogenic CNVs in 14 of 953 patients (1.5%). Of the 14 different CNVs, 12 were deletions and 2 were duplications, ranging in predicted size from 124bp to 17 Mb. Within the deletion intervals, BRPF1, CHD8, DJ1, EFTUD2, FGF14, GCH1, PANK2, SGCE, UBE3A, VPS16, WARS2, and WDR45 were determined as the most clinically relevant genes. The duplications involved chromosomal regions 6q21-q22 and 15q11-q13. CNV analysis increased the diagnostic yield in the total cohort from 18.4% to 19.8%, as compared to the assessment of single-nucleotide variants and small insertions and deletions alone.

Conclusions: WES-based CNV analysis in dystonia is feasible, increases the diagnostic yield, and should be combined with the assessment of single-nucleotide variants and small insertions and deletions.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.parkreldis.2021.02.013DOI Listing
March 2021

The electrophysiological footprint of CACNA1A disorders.

J Neurol 2021 Jul 5;268(7):2493-2505. Epub 2021 Feb 5.

Center for Rare Movement Disorders Innsbruck, Department of Neurology, Medical University of Innsbruck, Anichstrasse 35, 6020, Innsbruck, Austria.

Objectives: CACNA1A variants underlie three neurological disorders: familial hemiplegic migraine type 1 (FHM1), episodic ataxia type 2 (EA2) and spinocerebellar ataxia type 6 (SCA6). EEG is applied to study their episodic manifestations, but findings in the intervals did not gain attention up to date.

Methods: We analyzed repeated EEG recordings performed between 1994 and 2019 in a large cohort of genetically confirmed CACNA1A patients. EEG findings were compared with those of CACNA1A-negative phenocopies. A review of the related literature was performed.

Results: 85 EEG recordings from 38 patients (19 EA2, 14 FHM1, 5 SCA6) were analyzed. Baseline EEG was abnormal in 55% of cases (12 EA2, 9 FHM1). The most common finding was a lateralized intermittent slowing, mainly affecting the temporal region. Slowing was more pronounced after a recent attack but was consistently detected in the majority of patients also during the follow-up. Interictal epileptic discharges (IEDs) were detected in eight patients (7 EA2,1 FHM1). EEG abnormalities and especially IEDs were significantly associated with younger age at examination (16 ± 9 vs 43 ± 21 years in those without epileptic changes, p = 0.003) and with earlier onset of disease (1 (1-2) vs 12 (5-45) years, p = 0.0009). EEG findings in CACNA1A-negative phenocopies (n = 15) were largely unremarkable (p = 0.03 in the comparison with CACNA1A patients).

Conclusions: EEG abnormalities between attacks are highly prevalent in episodic CACNA1A disorders and especially associated with younger age at examination and earlier disease onset. Our findings underpin an age-dependent effect of CACNA1A variants, with a more severe impairment when P/Q channel dysfunction manifests early in life.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00415-021-10415-xDOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8217028PMC
July 2021

Impaired Inhibitory Control of Saccadic Eye Movements in Cervical Dystonia: An Eye-Tracking Study.

Mov Disord 2021 05 8;36(5):1246-1250. Epub 2021 Jan 8.

Department of Neurology, Medical University Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.

Background: The pathophysiology of cervical dystonia is still unclear. Recent evidence points toward a network disorder affecting several brain areas. The objective of this study was to assess the saccadic inhibition as a marker of corticostriatal function in cervical dystonia.

Methods: We recruited 31 cervical dystonia patients and 17 matched healthy controls. Subjects performed an overlap prosaccade, an antisaccade, and a countermanding task on an eye tracker to assess automatic visual response and response inhibition.

Results: Cervical dystonia patients made more premature saccades (P = 0.041) in the overlap prosaccade task and more directional errors in the antisaccade task (P = 0.011) and had a higher rate of failed inhibition in the countermanding task (P = 0.001).

Conclusions: The results suggest altered saccadic inhibition in cervical dystonia, possibly as a consequence of dysfunctional corticostriatal networks. Further studies are warranted to confirm whether these abnormalities are affected by the available therapies and whether this type of impairment is found in other focal dystonias. © 2021 The Authors. Movement Disorders published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mds.28486DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8247854PMC
May 2021

Monogenic variants in dystonia: an exome-wide sequencing study.

Lancet Neurol 2020 11;19(11):908-918

Klinik und Poliklinik für Neurologie, Klinikum rechts der Isar, Technical University of Munich, Munich, Germany.

Background: Dystonia is a clinically and genetically heterogeneous condition that occurs in isolation (isolated dystonia), in combination with other movement disorders (combined dystonia), or in the context of multisymptomatic phenotypes (isolated or combined dystonia with other neurological involvement). However, our understanding of its aetiology is still incomplete. We aimed to elucidate the monogenic causes for the major clinical categories of dystonia.

Methods: For this exome-wide sequencing study, study participants were identified at 33 movement-disorder and neuropaediatric specialty centres in Austria, Czech Republic, France, Germany, Poland, Slovakia, and Switzerland. Each individual with dystonia was diagnosed in accordance with the dystonia consensus definition. Index cases were eligible for this study if they had no previous genetic diagnosis and no indication of an acquired cause of their illness. The second criterion was not applied to a subset of participants with a working clinical diagnosis of dystonic cerebral palsy. Genomic DNA was extracted from blood of participants and whole-exome sequenced. To find causative variants in known disorder-associated genes, all variants were filtered, and unreported variants were classified according to American College of Medical Genetics and Genomics guidelines. All considered variants were reviewed in expert round-table sessions to validate their clinical significance. Variants that survived filtering and interpretation procedures were defined as diagnostic variants. In the cases that went undiagnosed, candidate dystonia-causing genes were prioritised in a stepwise workflow.

Findings: We sequenced the exomes of 764 individuals with dystonia and 346 healthy parents who were recruited between June 1, 2015, and July 31, 2019. We identified causative or probable causative variants in 135 (19%) of 728 families, involving 78 distinct monogenic disorders. We observed a larger proportion of individuals with diagnostic variants in those with dystonia (either isolated or combined) with coexisting non-movement disorder-related neurological symptoms (100 [45%] of 222; excepting cases with evidence of perinatal brain injury) than in those with combined (19 [19%] of 98) or isolated (16 [4%] of 388) dystonia. Across all categories of dystonia, 104 (65%) of the 160 detected variants affected genes which are associated with neurodevelopmental disorders. We found diagnostic variants in 11 genes not previously linked to dystonia, and propose a predictive clinical score that could guide the implementation of exome sequencing in routine diagnostics. In cases without perinatal sentinel events, genomic alterations contributed substantively to the diagnosis of dystonic cerebral palsy. In 15 families, we delineated 12 candidate genes. These include IMPDH2, encoding a key purine biosynthetic enzyme, for which robust evidence existed for its involvement in a neurodevelopmental disorder with dystonia. We identified six variants in IMPDH2, collected from four independent cohorts, that were predicted to be deleterious de-novo variants and expected to result in deregulation of purine metabolism.

Interpretation: In this study, we have determined the role of monogenic variants across the range of dystonic disorders, providing guidance for the introduction of personalised care strategies and fostering follow-up pathophysiological explorations.

Funding: Else Kröner-Fresenius-Stiftung, Technische Universität München, Helmholtz Zentrum München, Medizinische Universität Innsbruck, Charles University in Prague, Czech Ministry of Education, the Slovak Grant and Development Agency, the Slovak Research and Grant Agency.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1474-4422(20)30312-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC8246240PMC
November 2020

Safety and Efficacy of Omaveloxolone in Friedreich Ataxia (MOXIe Study).

Ann Neurol 2021 02 5;89(2):212-225. Epub 2020 Nov 5.

Reata Pharmaceuticals, Dallas, TX, USA.

Objective: Friedreich ataxia (FA) is a progressive genetic neurodegenerative disorder with no approved treatment. Omaveloxolone, an Nrf2 activator, improves mitochondrial function, restores redox balance, and reduces inflammation in models of FA. We investigated the safety and efficacy of omaveloxolone in patients with FA.

Methods: We conducted an international, double-blind, randomized, placebo-controlled, parallel-group, registrational phase 2 trial at 11 institutions in the United States, Europe, and Australia (NCT02255435, EudraCT2015-002762-23). Eligible patients, 16 to 40 years of age with genetically confirmed FA and baseline modified Friedreich's Ataxia Rating Scale (mFARS) scores between 20 and 80, were randomized 1:1 to placebo or 150mg per day of omaveloxolone. The primary outcome was change from baseline in the mFARS score in those treated with omaveloxolone compared with those on placebo at 48 weeks.

Results: One hundred fifty-five patients were screened, and 103 were randomly assigned to receive omaveloxolone (n = 51) or placebo (n = 52), with 40 omaveloxolone patients and 42 placebo patients analyzed in the full analysis set. Changes from baseline in mFARS scores in omaveloxolone (-1.55 ± 0.69) and placebo (0.85 ± 0.64) patients showed a difference between treatment groups of -2.40 ± 0.96 (p = 0.014). Transient reversible increases in aminotransferase levels were observed with omaveloxolone without increases in total bilirubin or other signs of liver injury. Headache, nausea, and fatigue were also more common among patients receiving omaveloxolone.

Interpretation: In the MOXIe trial, omaveloxolone significantly improved neurological function compared to placebo and was generally safe and well tolerated. It represents a potential therapeutic agent in FA. ANN NEUROL 2021;89:212-225.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ana.25934DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7894504PMC
February 2021

Paroxysmal and non-paroxysmal dystonia in 3 patients with biallelic ECHS1 variants: Expanding the neurological spectrum and therapeutic approaches.

Eur J Med Genet 2020 Nov 26;63(11):104046. Epub 2020 Aug 26.

Institute of Medical Genetics and Applied Genomics, University of Tübingen, Tübingen, Germany; Institute of Human Genetics, Technische Universität München, Munich, Germany; Centre for Rare Diseases, University of Tuebingen, Tübingen, Germany.

Background: ECHS1 encodes the mitochondrial short chain enoyl CoA hydratase 1 (SCEH). Biallelic ECHS1 variants have been associated with Leigh-like presentations and milder phenotypes with paroxysmal exercise-induced dystonia.

Patients/methods: We used exome sequencing to investigate molecular bases of paroxysmal and non-paroxysmal dystonia in three patients and performed functional studies in fibroblasts. Disease presentation and response upon dietary interventions were documented.

Results: We identified compound heterozygous ECHS1 missense variants in all individuals; all of them harbouring an c.518C > T (p.Ala173Val) variant. SCEH activity was impaired in patients' fibroblasts, respiratory chain-, and pyruvate-dehydrogenase-complex activities were normal in one individual. Patient 1 presented from the age of 2.5 years on with paroxysmal opisthotonic posturing. Patient 2 had a first metabolic crisis at the age 20 months developing recurrent exercise-induced dystonic episodes. Disease history of patient 3 was unremarkable for neurological findings until he first presented at the age of 20 years with persistent dystonia. Ketogenic diet had beneficial effects in patient 1. Neither ketogenic nor low protein diets led to milder symptoms in patient 2. Patient 3 benefits from low protein diet with improvement of his torticollis.

Conclusions: In line with literature, our findings corroborate that the pathogenic ECHS1 variant c.518C > T (p.Ala173Val) is associated with milder phenotypes characterized by paroxysmal and non-paroxysmal dystonia. Because of the potentially treatable defect, especially in milder affected patients, it is important to consider SCEH deficiency not only in patients with Leigh-like syndrome but also in patients with paroxysmal dystonia and normal neurological findings between episodes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.ejmg.2020.104046DOI Listing
November 2020

Familial writer's cramp: a clinical clue for inherited coenzyme Q deficiency.

Neurogenetics 2021 03 24;22(1):81-86. Epub 2020 Aug 24.

Center for Rare Neurological Diseases, Department of Neurology, Medical University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.

The spectrum of coenzyme Q (CoQ) deficiency syndromes comprises a variety of disorders, including a form of autosomal recessive cerebellar ataxia (ARCA2) caused by mutations in the AarF domain-containing kinase 3 gene (ADCK3). Due to the potential response to CoQ supplementation, a timely diagnosis is crucial. Herein, we describe two siblings with a novel homozygous ADCK3 variant and an unusual presentation consisting of isolated writer's cramp with adult-onset. Cerebellar ataxia developed later in the disease course and remained stable during the follow-up. This report highlights that ARCA2 should be considered in the differential diagnosis of familial writer's cramp.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10048-020-00624-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7997836PMC
March 2021

Loss-of-Function Variants in HOPS Complex Genes VPS16 and VPS41 Cause Early Onset Dystonia Associated with Lysosomal Abnormalities.

Ann Neurol 2020 11 21;88(5):867-877. Epub 2020 Sep 21.

Ken and Ruth Davee Department of Neurology, Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine, Chicago, IL, USA.

Objectives: The majority of people with suspected genetic dystonia remain undiagnosed after maximal investigation, implying that a number of causative genes have not yet been recognized. We aimed to investigate this paucity of diagnoses.

Methods: We undertook weighted burden analysis of whole-exome sequencing (WES) data from 138 individuals with unresolved generalized dystonia of suspected genetic etiology, followed by additional case-finding from international databases, first for the gene implicated by the burden analysis (VPS16), and then for other functionally related genes. Electron microscopy was performed on patient-derived cells.

Results: Analysis revealed a significant burden for VPS16 (Fisher's exact test p value, 6.9 × 10 ). VPS16 encodes a subunit of the homotypic fusion and vacuole protein sorting (HOPS) complex, which plays a key role in autophagosome-lysosome fusion. A total of 18 individuals harboring heterozygous loss-of-function VPS16 variants, and one with a microdeletion, were identified. These individuals experienced early onset progressive dystonia with predominant cervical, bulbar, orofacial, and upper limb involvement. Some patients had a more complex phenotype with additional neuropsychiatric and/or developmental comorbidities. We also identified biallelic loss-of-function variants in VPS41, another HOPS-complex encoding gene, in an individual with infantile-onset generalized dystonia. Electron microscopy of patient-derived lymphocytes and fibroblasts from both patients with VPS16 and VPS41 showed vacuolar abnormalities suggestive of impaired lysosomal function.

Interpretation: Our study strongly supports a role for HOPS complex dysfunction in the pathogenesis of dystonia, although variants in different subunits display different phenotypic and inheritance characteristics. ANN NEUROL 2020;88:867-877.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ana.25879DOI Listing
November 2020

Onset features and time to diagnosis in Friedreich's Ataxia.

Orphanet J Rare Dis 2020 08 3;15(1):198. Epub 2020 Aug 3.

Department of Neurology, Medical University of Innsbruck, Anichstrasse 35, 6020, Innsbruck, Austria.

Background: In rare disorders diagnosis may be delayed due to limited awareness and unspecific presenting symptoms. Herein, we address the issue of diagnostic delay in Friedreich's Ataxia (FRDA), a genetic disorder usually caused by homozygous GAA-repeat expansions.

Methods: Six hundred eleven genetically confirmed FRDA patients were recruited within a multicentric natural history study conducted by the EFACTS (European FRDA Consortium for Translational Studies, ClinicalTrials.gov -Identifier NCT02069509). Age at first symptoms as well as age at first suspicion of FRDA by a physician were collected retrospectively at the baseline visit.

Results: In 554 of cases (90.7%), disease presented with gait or coordination disturbances. In the others (n = 57, 9.3%), non-neurological features such as scoliosis or cardiomyopathy predated ataxia. Before the discovery of the causal mutation in 1996, median time to diagnosis was 4(IQR = 2-9) years and it improved significantly after the introduction of genetic testing (2(IQR = 1-5) years, p < 0.001). Still, after 1996, time to diagnosis was longer in patients with a) non-neurological presentation (mean 6.7, 95%CI [5.5,7.9] vs 4.5, [4.2,5] years in those with neurological presentation, p = 0.001) as well as in b) patients with late-onset (3(IQR = 1-7) vs 2(IQR = 1-5) years compared to typical onset < 25 years of age, p = 0.03). Age at onset significantly correlated with the length of the shorter GAA repeat (GAA1) in case of neurological onset (r = - 0,6; p < 0,0001), but not in patients with non-neurological presentation (r = - 0,1; p = 0,4). Across 54 siblings' pairs, differences in age at onset did not correlate with differences in GAA-repeat length (r = - 0,14, p = 0,3).

Conclusions: In the genetic era, presentation with non-neurological features or in the adulthood still leads to a significant diagnostic delay in FRDA. Well-known correlations between GAA1 repeat length and disease milestones are not valid in case of atypical presentations or positive family history.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s13023-020-01475-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7397644PMC
August 2020

Toward quantitative neuroimaging biomarkers for Friedreich's ataxia at 7 Tesla: Susceptibility mapping, diffusion imaging, R and R relaxometry.

J Neurosci Res 2020 11 30;98(11):2219-2231. Epub 2020 Jul 30.

Department of Neuroradiology, Medical University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.

Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA) is a rare genetic disorder leading to degenerative processes. So far, no effective treatment has been found. Therefore, it is important to assist the development of medication with imaging biomarkers reflecting disease status and progress. Ten FRDA patients (mean age 37 ± 14 years; four female) and 10 age- and sex-matched controls were included. Acquisition of magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) data for quantitative susceptibility mapping, R , R relaxometry and diffusion imaging was performed at 7 Tesla. Results of volume of interest (VOI)-based analyses of the quantitative data were compared with a voxel-based morphometry (VBM) evaluation. Differences between patients and controls were assessed using the analysis of covariance (ANCOVA; p < 0.01) with age and sex as covariates, effect size of group differences, and correlations with disease characteristics with Spearman correlation coefficient. For the VBM analysis, a statistical threshold of 0.001 for uncorrected and 0.05 for corrected p-values was used. Statistically significant differences between FRDA patients and controls were found in five out of twelve investigated structures, and statistically significant correlations with disease characteristics were revealed. Moreover, VBM revealed significant white matter atrophy within regions of the brainstem, and the cerebellum. These regions overlapped partially with brain regions for which significant differences between healthy controls and patients were found in the VOI-based quantitative MRI evaluation. It was shown that two independent analyses provided overlapping results. Moreover, positive results on correlations with disease characteristics were found, indicating that these quantitative MRI parameters could provide more detailed information and assist the search for effective treatments.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/jnr.24701DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7590084PMC
November 2020

Intronic pentanucleotide expansion in the replication factor 1 gene () is a major cause of adult-onset ataxia.

Neurol Genet 2020 Jun 20;6(3):e436. Epub 2020 May 20.

Medical University Innsbruck (S.M.B.); and Struthers Parkinson's Center (M.A.N.).

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/NXG.0000000000000436DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7251511PMC
June 2020

FIG4 mutations leading to parkinsonism and a phenotypical continuum between CMT4J and Yunis Varón syndrome.

Parkinsonism Relat Disord 2020 05 28;74:6-11. Epub 2020 Mar 28.

Department of Neurology and Hertie Institute for Clinical Brain Research and Center of Neurology, University of Tübingen, Hoppe-Seyler-Str. 3, 72076, Tübingen, Germany; German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), 72076, Tübingen, Germany.

Background: Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 4J (CMT4J) originates from mutations in the FIG4 gene and leads to distal muscle weakness. Two null alleles of FIG4 cause Yunis Varón syndrome with severe central nervous system involvement, cleidocranial dysmorphism, absent thumbs and halluces and early death.

Objectives: To analyse the phenotypic spectrum of FIG4-related disease and explore effects of residual FIG4 protein.

Methods: Phenotyping of five new patients with FIG4-related disease. Western Blot analyses of FIG4 from patient fibroblasts.

Results: Next generation sequencing revealed compound heterozygous variants in FIG4 in five patients. All five patients presented with peripheral neuropathy, various degree of dysmorphism and a central nervous system involvement comprising Parkinsonism in 3/5 patients, cerebellar ataxia (1/5), spasticity of lower limbs (1/5), epilepsy (1/5) and/or cognitive deficits (2/5). Onset varied between the first and the seventh decade. There was no residual FIG4 protein detectable in fibroblasts of the four analysed patients.

Conclusion: This study extends the phenotypic spectrum of FIG4-related disease to Parkinsonism as a feature and demonstrates new phenotypes on a continuum between CMT4J and Yunis Varón syndrome.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.parkreldis.2020.03.021DOI Listing
May 2020

Cardiovascular autonomic testing in the work-up of cerebellar ataxia: insight from an observational single center study.

J Neurol 2020 Apr 31;267(4):1097-1102. Epub 2019 Dec 31.

Department of Neurology, Innsbruck Medical University, Innsbruck, Austria.

Background: Cerebellar ataxias are a heterogeneous group of disorders of both genetic and non-genetic origin. In sporadic cases, two entities are recognized: multiple system atrophy of cerebellar type (MSA-C) and SAOA (sporadic adult-onset ataxia). The presence of severe cardiovascular autonomic failure reliably distinguishes MSA-C from other ataxias, but it may appear only late in the disease course.

Objective: To evaluate the diagnostic yield of cardiovascular autonomic function tests in the work-up of cerebellar ataxia.

Methods: We applied a cardiovascular autonomic tests battery in consecutive patients with neurodegenerative cerebellar ataxia and matched healthy controls. We recorded the presence of both orthostatic hypotension (OH) and blood pressure falls non-fulfilling the criteria of OH (non-OH BP). Sporadic cases were followed-up for an eventual conversion to MSA-C.

Results: Forty-two patients were recruited, 19 of whom with sporadic disease (2 probable MSA-C, 6 possible MSA-C, 11 SAOA). Sporadic and hereditary cases showed no difference concerning ataxia severity at baseline. At head-up tilt, non-OH BP falls were detected in nine patients, but not in controls. This finding was significantly more frequent in sporadic cases (p = 0.006) and was detected in five out of seven patients that during follow-up converted to possible/probable MSA-C. Findings at standing test were normal in four out of nine cases with non-OH BP falls at head-up tilt.

Conclusions: A complete cardiovascular autonomic battery with head-up tilt can detect early signs of BP dysregulation which may be missed at bed-side tests, thus warranting its application in the first line work-up of cerebellar ataxias.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00415-019-09684-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7109187PMC
April 2020

Protocol of a randomized, double-blind, placebo-controlled, parallel-group, multicentre study of the efficacy and safety of nicotinamide in patients with Friedreich ataxia (NICOFA).

Neurol Res Pract 2019 15;1:33. Epub 2019 Oct 15.

Department of Neurology, RWTH Aachen University, Pauwelsstraße 30, 52074 Aachen, Germany.

Introduction: Currently, no treatment that delays with the progression of Friedreich ataxia is available. In the majority of patients Friedreich ataxia is caused by homozygous pathological expansion of GAA repeats in the first intron of the FXN gene. Nicotinamide acts as a histone deacetylase inhibitor. Dose escalation studies have shown, that short term treatment with dosages of up to 4 g/day increase the expression of FXN mRNA and frataxin protein up to the levels of asymptomatic heterozygous gene carriers. The long-term effects and the effects on clinical endpoints, activities of daily living and quality of life are unknown.

Methods: The aim of the NICOFA study is to investigate the efficacy and safety of nicotinamide for the treatment of Friedreich ataxia over 24 months. An open-label dose adjustment wash-in period with nicotinamide (phase A: weeks 1-4) to the individually highest tolerated dose of 2-4 g nicotinamide/day will be followed by a 2 (nicotinamide group): 1 (placebo group) randomization (phase B: weeks 5-104). In the nicotinamide group, patients will continue with their individually highest tolerated dose between 2 and 4 g/d per os once daily and the placebo group patients will be receiving matching placebo. Safety assessments will consist of monitoring and recording of all adverse events and serious adverse events, regular monitoring of haematology, blood chemistry and urine values, regular measurement of vital signs and the performance of physical examinations including cardiological signs. The primary outcome is the change in the Scale for the Assessment and Rating of Ataxia (SARA) over time as compared with placebo in patients with Friedreich ataxia based on the linear mixed effect model (LMEM) model. Secondary endpoints are measures of quality of life, functional motor and cognitive measures, clinician's and patient's global impression-change scales as well as the up-regulation of the frataxin protein level, safety and survival/death.

Perspective: The NICOFA study represents one of the first attempts to assess the clinical efficacy of an epigenetic therapeutic intervention for this disease and will provide evidence of possible disease modifying effects of nicotinamide treatment in patients with Friedreich ataxia.

Trial Registration: EudraCT-No.: 2017-002163-17, ClinicalTrials.gov NCT03761511.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s42466-019-0038-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7650055PMC
October 2019

SSBP1 mutations cause mtDNA depletion underlying a complex optic atrophy disorder.

J Clin Invest 2020 01;130(1):108-125

Pathology Unit, Department of Laboratories, Bambino Gesù Children's Hospital, Rome, Italy.

Inherited optic neuropathies include complex phenotypes, mostly driven by mitochondrial dysfunction. We report an optic atrophy spectrum disorder, including retinal macular dystrophy and kidney insufficiency leading to transplantation, associated with mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) depletion without accumulation of multiple deletions. By whole-exome sequencing, we identified mutations affecting the mitochondrial single-strand binding protein (SSBP1) in 4 families with dominant and 1 with recessive inheritance. We show that SSBP1 mutations in patient-derived fibroblasts variably affect the amount of SSBP1 protein and alter multimer formation, but not the binding to ssDNA. SSBP1 mutations impaired mtDNA, nucleoids, and 7S-DNA amounts as well as mtDNA replication, affecting replisome machinery. The variable mtDNA depletion in cells was reflected in severity of mitochondrial dysfunction, including respiratory efficiency, OXPHOS subunits, and complex amount and assembly. mtDNA depletion and cytochrome c oxidase-negative cells were found ex vivo in biopsies of affected tissues, such as kidney and skeletal muscle. Reduced efficiency of mtDNA replication was also reproduced in vitro, confirming the pathogenic mechanism. Furthermore, ssbp1 suppression in zebrafish induced signs of nephropathy and reduced optic nerve size, the latter phenotype complemented by WT mRNA but not by SSBP1 mutant transcripts. This previously unrecognized disease of mtDNA maintenance implicates SSBP1 mutations as a cause of human pathology.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1172/JCI128514DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6934201PMC
January 2020

Prediction of Survival With Long-Term Disease Progression in Most Common Spinocerebellar Ataxia.

Mov Disord 2019 08 18;34(8):1220-1227. Epub 2019 Jun 18.

Department of Neurology, Medical University, Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.

Background: Spinocerebellar ataxias are rare dominantly inherited neurodegenerative diseases that lead to severe disability and premature death.

Objective: To quantify the impact of disease progression measured by the Scale for the Assessment and Rating of Ataxia on survival, and to identify different profiles of disease progression and survival.

Methods: Four hundred sixty-two spinocerebellar ataxia patients from the EUROSCA prospective cohort study, suffering from spinocerebellar ataxia type 1, spinocerebellar ataxia type 2, spinocerebellar ataxia type 3, and spinocerebellar ataxia type 6, and who had at least two measurements of Scale for the Assessment and Rating of Ataxia score, were analyzed. Outcomes were change over time in Scale for the Assessment and Rating of Ataxia score and time to death. Joint model was used to analyze disease progression and survival.

Results: Disease progression was the strongest predictor for death in all genotypes: An increase of 1 standard deviation in total Scale for the Assessment and Rating of Ataxia score increased the risk of death by 1.28 times (95% confidence interval: 1.18-1.38) for patients with spinocerebellar ataxia type 1; 1.19 times (1.12-1.26) for spinocerebellar ataxia type 2; 1.30 times (1.19-1.42) for spinocerebellar ataxia type 3; and 1.26 times (1.11-1.43) for spinocerebellar ataxia type 6. Three subgroups of disease progression and survival were identified for patients with spinocerebellar ataxia type 1: "severe" (n = 13; 12%), "intermediate" (n = 31; 29%), and "moderate" (n = 62; 58%). Patients in the severe group were more severely affected at baseline with higher Scale for the Assessment and Rating of Ataxia scores and frequency of nonataxia signs compared to those in the other groups.

Conclusion: Rapid ataxia progression is associated with poor survival of the most common spinocerebellar ataxia. Theses current results have implications for the design of future interventional studies of spinocerebellar ataxia. © 2019 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mds.27739DOI Listing
August 2019

Erythropoietin and Friedreich Ataxia: Time for a Reappraisal?

Front Neurosci 2019 24;13:386. Epub 2019 Apr 24.

Department of Neurology, Medical University of Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.

Friedreich ataxia (FRDA) is a rare neurological disorder due to deficiency of the mitochondrial protein frataxin. Frataxin deficiency results in impaired mitochondrial function and iron deposition in affected tissues. Erythropoietin (EPO) is a cytokine which was mostly known as a key regulator of erythropoiesis until cumulative evidence showed additional neurotrophic and neuroprotective properties. These features offered the rationale for advancement of EPO in clinical trials in different neurological disorders in the past years, including FRDA. Several mechanisms of action of EPO may be beneficial in FRDA. First of all, EPO exposure results in frataxin upregulation and . By promoting erythropoiesis, EPO influences iron metabolism and induces shifts in iron pool which may ameliorate conditions of free iron excess and iron accumulation. Furthermore, EPO signaling is crucial for mitochondrial gene activation and mitochondrial biogenesis. Up to date nine clinical trials investigated the effects of EPO and derivatives in FRDA. The majority of these studies had a proof-of-concept design. Considering the natural history of FRDA, all of them were too short in duration and not powered for clinical changes. However, these studies addressed significant issues in the treatment with EPO, such as (1) the challenge of the dose finding, (2) stability of frataxin up-regulation, (3) continuous versus intermittent stimulation with EPO/regimen, or (4) tissue changes after EPO exposure in humans (muscle biopsy, brain imaging). Despite several clinical trials in the past, no treatment is available for the treatment of FRDA. Current lines of research focus on gene therapy, frataxin replacement strategies and on regulation of key metabolic checkpoints such as NrF2. Due to potential crosstalk with all these mechanisms, interventions on the EPO pathway still represent a valuable research field. The recent development of small EPO mimetics which maintain cytoprotective properties without erythropoietic action may open a new era in EPO research for the treatment of FRDA.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.3389/fnins.2019.00386DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6491891PMC
April 2019

Morphometric MRI profiles of multiple system atrophy variants and implications for differential diagnosis.

Mov Disord 2019 07 28;34(7):1041-1048. Epub 2019 Mar 28.

Department of Neurology, Medical University Innsbruck, Innsbruck, Austria.

Background: Manual width measurements of the middle cerebellar peduncle on MRI were shown to improve the accuracy of an imaging-guided diagnosis of multiple system atrophy (MSA). Recently, automated volume segmentation algorithms were able to reliably differentiate patients with Parkinson's disease (PD) and the parkinsonian variant of MSA. The objective of the current study was to integrate probabilistic information of the middle cerebellar peduncle into an existing MRI atlas for automated subcortical segmentation and to evaluate the diagnostic properties of the novel atlas for the differential diagnosis of MSA (parkinsonian and cerebellar variant) versus PD.

Methods: Three Tesla MRI scans of 48 healthy individuals were used to establish an automated whole-brain segmentation procedure that includes the volumes of the putamen, cerebellar gray and white matter, and the middle cerebellar peduncles. Classification accuracy of segmented volumes were tested in early-stage MSA patients (18 MSA-parkinsonism, 13 MSA-cerebellar) and 19 PD patients using a C4.5 classifier.

Results: Putaminal and infratentorial atrophy were present in 77.8% and 61.1% of MSA-parkinsonian patients, respectively. Four of 18 MSA-parkinsonian patients (22.2%) had infratentorial atrophy without evidence of putaminal atrophy. Infratentorial atrophy was present in all MSA-cerebellar patients, with concomitant putaminal atrophy in 46.2% of these cases. The diagnostic algorithm using putaminal and infratentorial volumetric information correctly classified all PD patients and 96.8% of MSA patients.

Conclusions: The middle cerebellar peduncle was successfully integrated into a subcortical segmentation atlas, and its excellent diagnostic accuracy outperformed existing volumetric MRI processing strategies in differentiating MSA patients with variable atrophy patterns from PD patients. © 2019 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mds.27669DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6767501PMC
July 2019

Patient-reported outcomes in Friedreich's ataxia after withdrawal from idebenone.

Acta Neurol Scand 2019 Jun 8;139(6):533-539. Epub 2019 Apr 8.

Department of Molecular Neuroscience, Ataxia Centre, UCL Institute of Neurology, Queen Square, London, UK.

Objectives: Friedreich's ataxia is the most common inherited ataxia, and pathogenesis is known to involve mitochondrial oxidative stress. Idebenone is a potent antioxidant which has already been evaluated in several clinical trials in FRDA, with reports of symptomatic benefit but inconclusive objective results. Following patient consultation on design, we have completed a treatment-withdrawal study to establish whether patients could correctly determine their treatment allocation to placebo or idebenone. Our aim was to capture subjective experiences of symptoms such as fatigue, which can be difficult to measure with questionnaires or semi-quantitative scales, particularly in chronic, slowly progressive conditions.

Materials And Methods: Patients taking idebenone for at least 12 months as part of the open-label MICONOS Extension Study were randomized to receive either placebo or idebenone continuation for 2-month treatment cycles. The primary endpoint was patient assessment of treatment assignment.

Results: A total of 29 patients were randomized, forming the idebenone group (n = 16) and the placebo group (n = 13). No significant differences were detected between the idebenone and placebo groups on assessment of treatment assignment or early study withdrawal. A small but significant difference in ataxia rating scale scores was detected between treatment groups when considering ambulatory patients only.

Conclusions: This study provides no data to suggest that FRDA patients could correctly determine their treatment assignment over a 2-month period. We hope that this study design will help inform future trials so that patients' experiences of symptoms are more reliably measured.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1111/ane.13088DOI Listing
June 2019

Safety, pharmacodynamics, and potential benefit of omaveloxolone in Friedreich ataxia.

Ann Clin Transl Neurol 2019 01 10;6(1):15-26. Epub 2018 Nov 10.

Reata Pharmaceuticals 2801 Gateway Drive Suite 150 Irving Texas 75063.

Objective: Previous studies have demonstrated that suppression of Nrf2 in Friedreich ataxia tissues contributes to excess oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, and reduced ATP production. Omaveloxolone, an Nrf2 activator and NF-kB suppressor, targets dysfunctional inflammatory, metabolic, and bioenergetic pathways. The dose-ranging portion of this Phase 2 study assessed the safety, pharmacodynamics, and potential benefit of omaveloxolone in Friedreich ataxia patients (NCT02255435).

Methods: Sixty-nine Friedreich ataxia patients were randomized 3:1 to either omaveloxolone or placebo administered once daily for 12 weeks. Patients were randomized in cohorts of eight patients, at dose levels of 2.5-300 mg/day.

Results: Omaveloxolone was well tolerated, and adverse events were generally mild. Optimal pharmacodynamic changes (noted by changes in ferritin and GGT) were observed at doses of 80 and 160 mg/day. No significant changes were observed in the primary outcome, peak work load in maximal exercise testing (0.9 ± 2.9 W, placebo corrected). At the 160 mg/day dose, omaveloxolone improved the secondary outcome of the mFARS by 3.8 points versus baseline (=0.0001) and by 2.3 points versus placebo (=0.06). Omaveloxolone produced greater improvements in mFARS in patients that did not have musculoskeletal foot deformity (pes cavus). In patients without this foot deformity, omaveloxolone improved mFARS by 6.0 points from baseline (<0.0001) and by 4.4 points versus placebo (=0.01) at the 160 mg/day.

Interpretation: Treatment of Friedreich ataxia patients with omaveloxolone at the optimal dose level of 160 mg/day appears to improve neurological function. Therefore, omaveloxolone treatment is being examined in greater detail at 150 mg/day for Friedreich ataxia.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/acn3.660DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6331199PMC
January 2019

SYNE1-ataxia: Novel genotypic and phenotypic findings.

Parkinsonism Relat Disord 2019 05 11;62:210-214. Epub 2018 Dec 11.

Department of Neurology, Innsbruck Medical University, Anichstraße 35, AT6020, Innsbruck, Austria.

Introduction: SYNE1 encodes nesprin-1, a scaffold protein which is involved in the binding between cytoskeleton, nuclear envelope and other subcellular compartments. In 2007, recessive truncating SYNE1 mutations have been linked to a genetic form of pure cerebellar ataxia with adult onset and mild phenotype. Subsequent reports described a number of patients with SYNE1-ataxia and widespread neurological involvement including features of motor neuron disease. Recently, heterozygote missense SYNE1 mutations have been associated with muscular disorders, such as Emery-Dreifuss muscular dystrophy, arthrogryposis multiplex congenita and dilated cardiomyopathy.

Methods: Herein we describe novel genotypic and phenotypic findings in an independent cohort of 5 patients with SYNE1-ataxia referring to the Department of Neurology of the Innsbruck Medical University and performed a review of the related literature.

Results: We report 3 novel mutations and describe for the first time myocardial involvement in a patient with a complicated spastic-ataxic phenotype and C-terminal mutation. In the literature, mutations associated with additional motor neuron signs spanned over the entire gene, but patients with a particularly severe phenotype and premature death bore C-terminal mutations.

Conclusion: Our findings support a genotype-phenotype correlation in SYNE1-ataxia and suggest the need for a systematic cardiologic evaluation in the setting of complicated spastic-ataxia phenotypes.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.parkreldis.2018.12.007DOI Listing
May 2019
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