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Parkinsonism Relat Disord. 2018 Oct 31. pii: S1353-8020(18)30466-8. doi: 10.1016/j.parkreldis.2018.10.030. [Epub ahead of print]

More unaffected first-degree relatives of essential tremor cases have mild cognitive deficits than age-matched controls.

Author information

1
Department of Neurology, Yale School of Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA.
2
Department of Epidemiology, Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.
3
Department of Neurology, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA; Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.
4
Department of Neurology, Yale School of Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA; Department of Chronic Disease Epidemiology, Yale School of Public Health, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA; Center for Neuroepidemiology and Clinical Neurological Research, Yale School of Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA. Electronic address: elan.louis@yale.edu.

Abstract

BACKGROUND:

In numerous case-control studies, essential tremor (ET) has been associated with cognitive impairment. ET is often familial. However, cognitive impairment has not been studied in family members of ET cases. Endophenotypes are measurable clinical characteristics that may be present in individuals with increased risk for disease; as such, they may be present before disease onset. We administered a global cognitive screen to first-degree relatives of ET cases (FD-ET) and age-matched controls (Co).

METHODS:

We administered the Montreal Cognitive Assessment (MoCA) to 156 FD-ET and 73 Co, none of whom were diagnosed with ET or reported tremor. MoCA <26 was considered suggestive of cognitive impairment.

RESULTS:

FD-ET and Co were similar with respect to age (60.1 ± 8.3 vs. 60.9 ± 7.4 years) and numerous demographic factors. FD-ET and Co also had similar MoCA scores; however, 34 of 156 (21.8%) FD-ET had a MoCA score <26 vs only 5 (6.9%) of 73 Co (p = 0.004). In a univariate logistic regression model, FD-ET were 3.79 times more likely to have a low (<26) MoCA than were Co (odds ratio = 3.79, p = 0.008). In a multivariate logistic regression model, adjusting for age and other covariates, FD-ET were 4.83 times more likely to have a low MoCA than were Co (odds ratio = 4.83, p = 0.003).

CONCLUSION:

More FD-ET had low MoCA scores when compared with Co. These data provide additional support for the scientific notions that (1) cognitive difficulties are a disease-associated feature of ET and (2) there may be a pre-tremor phase of illness in ET.

KEYWORDS:

Cognition; Endophenotype; Epidemiology; Essential tremor; Genetics; Mild cognitive impairment; Pre-motor

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