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Psychiatry Res. 2012 Dec 30;200(2-3):813-8. doi: 10.1016/j.psychres.2012.03.041. Epub 2012 Apr 25.

Irritability in Huntington's disease.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Leiden University Medical Centre, The Netherlands.


Irritability is a frequent neuropsychiatric symptom in patients with Huntington's disease (HD). The Irritability Scale (IS) and the irritability factor of the Problem Behaviours Assessment (PBA) was used to assess irritability among 130 HD mutation carriers and 43 verified non-carriers. The IS was tested using receiver operating characteristic analysis against different cut-offs of the PBA irritability factor. A robust IS cut-off score of ≥14 points was found indicating that 45 (35%) of the 130 mutation carriers were irritable vs. 4 (9%) of the 43 non-carriers (P=0.001). The level of agreement between self-report and informant-report IS was of moderate strength (intraclass correlation=0.61). Using univariate and multivariate regression analyses, independent correlates of irritability were being married/living together (P=0.02), CAG repeat length (P=0.01), and use of benzodiazepines (P=0.008). Using the same model with the informant's irritability score, use of benzodiazepines was the only significant independent correlate of irritability (P=0.005). Irritability is a prominent symptom of HD and can be reliably assessed with the IS using a cut-off score ≥14 points. Although it is unclear whether benzodiazepine use causes irritability, or irritability leads to the prescription of benzodiazepines, clinical evaluation with respect to the use of benzodiazepines in HD warrants attention.

Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.

[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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