Penetrance of marked cognitive impairment in older male carriers of the FMR1 gene premutation.
ABSTRACT Male carriers of the FMR1 premutation are at risk of developing the fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome (FXTAS), a newly recognised and largely under-diagnosed late onset neurodegenerative disorder. Patients affected with FXTAS primarily present with cerebellar ataxia and intention tremor. Cognitive decline has also been associated with the premutation, but the lack of data on its penetrance is a growing concern for clinicians who provide genetic counselling.
The Mattis Dementia Rating Scale (MDRS) was administered in a double blind fashion to 74 men aged 50 years or more recruited from fragile X families (35 premutation carriers and 39 intrafamilial controls) regardless of their clinical manifestation. Based on previous publications, marked cognitive impairment was defined by a score <or=123 on the MDRS.
Both logistic and survival models confirmed that in addition to age and education level, premutation size plays a significant (p<0.01 and p<0.03 for logistic and survival model, respectively) role in cognitive impairment. The estimated penetrance of marked cognitive impairment in our sample (adjusted for the mean age 63.4 years and mean education level 9.7 years) for midsize/large (70-200 CGG) and small (55-69 CGG) premutation alleles was 33.3% (relative risk (RR) 6.5; p = 0.01) and 5.9% (RR 1.15; p = 0.9) respectively. Penetrance in the control group was 5.1%.
Male carriers of midsize to large premutation alleles had a sixfold increased risk of developing cognitive decline and the risk increases with allele size. In addition, it was observed that cognitive impairment may precede motor symptoms. These data provide guidance for genetic counselling although larger samples are required to refine these estimates.
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ABSTRACT: Fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome (FXTAS) is a late-onset movement disorder associated with FMR1 premutation alleles. Asymptomatic premutation (aPM) carriers have preserved cognitive functions, but they present subtle executive deficits. Current efforts are focusing on the identification of specific cognitive markers that can detect aPM carriers at higher risk of developing FXTAS. This study aims at evaluating verbal memory and executive functions as early markers of disease progression while exploring associated brain structure changes using diffusion tensor imaging. We assessed 30 aPM men and 38 intrafamilial controls. The groups perform similarly in the executive domain except for decreased performance in motor planning in aPM carriers. In the memory domain, aPM carriers present a significant decrease in verbal encoding and retrieval. Retrieval is associated with microstructural changes of the white matter (WM) of the left hippocampal fimbria. Encoding is associated with changes in the WM under the right dorsolateral prefrontal cortex, a region implicated in relational memory encoding. These associations were found in the aPM group only and did not show age-related decline. This may be interpreted as a neurodevelopmental effect of the premutation, and longitudinal studies are required to better understand these mechanisms.Neurobiology of aging 02/2014; 35(8). DOI:10.1016/j.neurobiolaging.2014.01.150 · 4.85 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Some individuals with a particular disease-causing mutation or genotype fail to express most if not all features of the disease in question, a phenomenon that is known as 'reduced (or incomplete) penetrance'. Reduced penetrance is not uncommon; indeed, there are many known examples of 'disease-causing mutations' that fail to cause disease in at least a proportion of the individuals who carry them. Reduced penetrance may therefore explain not only why genetic diseases are occasionally transmitted through unaffected parents, but also why healthy individuals can harbour quite large numbers of potentially disadvantageous variants in their genomes without suffering any obvious ill effects. Reduced penetrance can be a function of the specific mutation(s) involved or of allele dosage. It may also result from differential allelic expression, copy number variation or the modulating influence of additional genetic variants in cis or in trans. The penetrance of some pathogenic genotypes is known to be age- and/or sex-dependent. Variable penetrance may also reflect the action of unlinked modifier genes, epigenetic changes or environmental factors. At least in some cases, complete penetrance appears to require the presence of one or more genetic variants at other loci. In this review, we summarize the evidence for reduced penetrance being a widespread phenomenon in human genetics and explore some of the molecular mechanisms that may help to explain this enigmatic characteristic of human inherited disease.Human Genetics 07/2013; 132(10). DOI:10.1007/s00439-013-1331-2 · 4.52 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Executive dysfunction in fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome (FXTAS) has been suggested to mediate other cognitive impairments. In the present study, event-related potentials and neuropsychological testing were combined to investigate the brain mechanisms underlying the executive dysfunction in FXTAS. Thirty-two-channel electroencephalography was recorded during an auditory "oddball" task requiring dual responses. FXTAS patients (N= 41, mean age= 62) displayed prolonged latencies of N1 and P3 and reduced amplitudes of P2 and P3, whereas their N2 measures remained within the normal range, indicating relatively preserved early-stage auditory attention but markedly impaired late-stage attention and working memory updating processes (as indexed by P3). Topographical mapping revealed a typical parietal P3 peak preceded by a prominent fronto-central P3 in normal control subjects (N= 32), whereas FXTAS patients had decreased parietal P3 amplitude and diminished fronto-central positivities with a delayed onset (∼50 ms later than controls, P < 0.002). The P3 abnormalities were associated with lower executive function test (e.g., BDS-2) scores. Smaller P3 amplitudes also correlated with increased CGG repeat length of fragile X mental retardation 1 (FMR1) gene and higher FMR1 mRNA levels. These results indicate that abnormal fronto-parietal attentional network dynamics underlie executive dysfunction, the cardinal feature of cognitive impairment in FXTAS.Cerebral Cortex 08/2012; DOI:10.1093/cercor/bhs251 · 8.31 Impact Factor