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Apolipoprotein E (APOE) E4 is the main genetic risk factor for Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Due to the consistent association, there is interest as to whether E4 influences the risk of other neurodegenerative diseases. Further, there is a constant search for other genetic biomarkers contributing to these phenotypes, such as microtubule-associated protein tau (MAPT) haplotypes. Here, participants from the Ontario Neurodegenerative Disease Research Initiative were genotyped to investigate whether the APOE E4 allele or MAPT H1 haplotype are associated with five neurodegenerative diseases: (1) AD and mild cognitive impairment (MCI), (2) amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, (3) frontotemporal dementia (FTD), (4) Parkinson’s disease, and (5) vascular cognitive impairment.
Genotypes were defined for their respective APOE allele and MAPT haplotype calls for each participant, and logistic regression analyses were performed to identify the associations with the presentations of neurodegenerative diseases.
Our work confirmed the association of the E4 allele with a dose-dependent increased presentation of AD, and an association between the E4 allele alone and MCI; however, the other four diseases were not associated with E4. Further, the APOE E2 allele was associated with decreased presentation of both AD and MCI. No associations were identified between MAPT haplotype and the neurodegenerative disease cohorts; but following subtyping of the FTD cohort, the H1 haplotype was significantly associated with progressive supranuclear palsy.
This is the first study to concurrently analyze the association of APOE isoforms and MAPT haplotypes with five neurodegenerative diseases using consistent enrollment criteria and broad phenotypic analysis.
Episodic ataxia type-2 (EA-2) is an autosomal dominant neurological disorder that has been shown to result from mutations in the CACNA1A gene encoding the P/Q-type calcium channel. Affected individuals experience episodes of cerebellar ataxia usually associated with migraine symptoms, interictal nystagmus, mild residual and in some cases a progressive cerebellar incoordination and respond to acetazolamide treatment. We identified a patient with a positive family history for episodic ataxia, who was originally diagnosed with epilepsy and treated with valproic acid. Subsequent examination revealed that the symptoms were consistent with a diagnosis of EA-2. The patient responded positively to a combination of acetazolamide and valproic acid. Molecular genetic analysis of the CACNA1A gene was performed in order to confirm a diagnosis of EA-2.
The CACNA1A gene was evaluated for mutations using single strand conformational polymorphism analysis and direct DNA sequencing. Allele specific oligo hybridization was used to confirm that the mutation was segregating with only affected family members and was not present in the control group.
In this study we identified a new missense mutation in exon 12 of the CACNA1A gene from a patient with EA-2 whose symptoms could be controlled with a combination of acetazolamide and valproic acid. This G to A transition changes a highly conserved glutamic acid residue to a lysine residue in domain II S2 of the P/Q-type calcium channel α1A subunit.
The use of valproic acid in treating patients with EA-2 is not well documented. Here we describe a patient with a novel mutation in the CACNA1A gene who responded positively to a combination of acetazolamide and valproic acid.
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