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Genet Test. 1999;3(4):323-8.

Genetic testing for early-onset torsion dystonia (DYT1): introduction of a simple screening method, experiences from testing of a large patient cohort, and ethical aspects.

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Neurology Department, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, USA.


Early-onset, generalized primary torsion dystonia (PTD) is an autosomal dominantly inherited disorder, characterized by involuntary movements and abnormal postures. The majority of cases are caused by a 3-bp deletion in the DYT1 gene on chromosome 9q34 that allows for specific genetic testing. We developed a simple, reliable, and cost-effective, PCR-based screening method for this mutation. Testing results from a cohort of 550 cases, including patients with different forms of dystonia and unclassified movement disorders, revealed that 72.2% of the patients with typical early-onset generalized PTD carried the GAG deletion in the DYT1 gene. Among 300 cases with late-onset focal/segmental dystonia, only 3 patients tested positive for the GAG deletion whereas 12.8% of the patients with an unclassified movement disorder were GAG positive. Our results confirm a genotype/phenotype correlation in early-onset PTD and show that application of strict clinical criteria leads to accurate prediction of carrier status in more than two-thirds of patients with this type of dystonia. Currently, we suggest that testing be recommended in individuals with age of onset of dystonia below 30 years and/or a positive family history of early-onset PTD. Testing is not recommended in patients with onset of symptoms after 30 years or in asymptomatic individuals under the age of 18.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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