Insufficient evidence exists to guide the long-term pharmacological management of Huntington’s disease (HD) although most current interventions rely on symptomatic management. The effect of many frontline treatments on potential endpoints for HD clinical trials remains unknown. Our objective was to investigate how therapies widely used to manage HD affect the symptom for which they are prescribed and other endpoints using data from TRACK-HD. We used longitudinal models to estimate effects of medication use on performance on tests of motor, cognitive and neuropsychiatric function using data from 123 TRACK-HD stage 1/2 participants across four study visits. Adjustment for confounding by prior medication use, prior clinical performance, concomitant use of other medications, and baseline variables (sex, disease group, age, CAG, study site, education) enabled a closer-to-causal interpretation of the associations. Adjusting for baseline variables only, medication use was typically associated with worse clinical performance, reflecting greater medication use in more advanced patients. After additional adjustment for longitudinal confounders such “inverse” associations were generally eliminated and in the expected directions: participants taking neuroleptics tended to have better motor performance, improved affect and poorer cognitive performance, and those taking SSRI/SNRIs had less apathy, less affect and better total behaviour scores. However, we uncovered few statistically significant associations. Limitations include sample size and unmeasured confounding. In conclusion, adjustment for confounding by prior measurements largely eliminated associations between medication use and poorer clinical performance from simple analyses. However, there was little convincing evidence of causal effects of medication on clinical performance and larger cohorts or trials are needed.
Background: The clinical presentation of Juvenile Huntington’s Disease (JHD) can be very different from adult-onset HD with little evidence to guide symptomatic management.
Aim: To survey the current use of pharmacological treatments for JHD.
Methods: Patients were identified through the HD Association, Hospital Doctors and the European Huntington’s Disease Network REGISTRY study.
Results: The most commonly prescribed agents were anti-psychotics (24/45), anti-depressants (17/45) and anti-parkinsonian medications (15/45). 5 patients were taking more than 8 medications.
Conclusions: The most commonly prescribed group of medication was the anti-psychotic. Many patients were on multiple therapies, highlighting the need to rationalise medications.
In diffusion tensor imaging (DTI), an improvement in the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) of the fractional anisotropy (FA) maps can be obtained when the number of recorded gradient directions (GD) is increased. Vice versa, elimination of motion-corrupted or noisy GD leads to a more accurate characterization of the diffusion tensor. We previously suggest a slice-wise method for artifact detection in FA maps. This current study applies this approach to a cohort of 18 premanifest Huntington’s disease (pHD) subjects and 23 controls. By 2-D voxelwise statistical comparison of original FA-maps and FA-maps with a reduced number of GD, the effect of eliminating GD that were affected by motion was demonstrated.
We present an evaluation metric that allows to test if the computed FA-maps (with a reduced number of GD) still reflect a “true” FA-map, as defined by simulations in the control sample. Furthermore, we investigated if omitting data volumes affected by motion in the pHD cohort could lead to an increased SNR in the resulting FA-maps.
A high agreement between original FA maps (with all GD) and corrected FA maps (i.e. without GD corrupted by motion) were observed even for numbers of eliminated GD up to 13. Even in one data set in which 46 GD had to be eliminated, the results showed a moderate agreement.
Several candidate modifier genes which, in addition to the pathogenic CAG repeat expansion, influence the age at onset (AO) in Huntington disease (HD) have already been described. The aim of this study was to replicate association of variations in the N-methyl D-aspartate receptor subtype genes GRIN2A and GRIN2B in the “REGISTRY” cohort from the European Huntington Disease Network (EHDN). The analyses did replicate the association reported between the GRIN2A rs2650427 variation and AO in the entire cohort. Yet, when subjects were stratified by AO subtypes, we found nominally significant evidence for an association of the GRIN2A rs1969060 variation and the GRIN2B rs1806201 variation. These findings further implicate the N-methyl D-aspartate receptor subtype genes as loci containing variation associated with AO in HD.
The Functional Rating Scale Taskforce for pre-Huntington Disease (FuRST-pHD) is a multinational, multidisciplinary initiative with the goal of developing a data-driven, comprehensive, psychometrically sound, rating scale for assessing symptoms and functional ability in prodromal and early Huntington disease (HD) gene expansion carriers. The process involves input from numerous sources to identify relevant symptom domains, including HD individuals, caregivers, and experts from a variety of fields, as well as knowledge gained from the analysis of data from ongoing large-scale studies in HD using existing clinical scales. This is an iterative process in which an ongoing series of field tests in prodromal (prHD) and early HD individuals provides the team with data on which to make decisions regarding which questions should undergo further development or testing and which should be excluded. We report here the development and assessment of the first iteration of interview questions aimed to assess functional impact of motor manifestations in prHD and early HD individuals.
Background: People with Huntington’s disease (HD) often require tailored healthcare and support packages that develop as the disease progresses. The Client Service Receipt Inventory (CSRI) gathers retrospective information on service utilization. This study investigated the use of formal services and informal care as measured by the CSRI and explored associations between informal care, disease severity and functional ability as measured by the Unified Huntington’s Disease Rating Scale Total Motor Score (UHDRS-TMS) and functional scales.
Methods: All monitored longitudinal data from annual clinical assessments of UHDRS-TMS and functional assessments and CSRI collected under the auspices of the European Huntington’s Disease Network (EHDN) REGISTRY study between the years 2004 and 2009 were utilised in the analyses. Disease severity was reflected by UHDRS-TMS. Functional ability was measured using the UHDRS functional scales. CSRI data were analysed according to percentage use of individual formal services and total estimated hours per week of informal care. Regression analyses were conducted to identify any associations between disease severity, functional ability and hours of informal care.
Results: 451 HD patients (212 female; 239 male) completed one visit; 105 patients (54 females; 51 males) completed two visits and 47 patients (20 females; 27 males) completed three visits in total over the 5 year period. The mean time between visits was 1.2 years. At visit one, 74% of the participants reported being in receipt of at least one formal hospital-based service in the previous six months, and 89% reported receipt of formal primary and community care services. In contrast, at the third visit, 62% of people had used hospital based services and 94% formal community based services in the previous six months. Fifty % of individuals required some form of informal care in the home at visit 1; this increased to 68% at visits 2 and 3. The mean (SD) estimated weekly total informal care hours at visits 1, 2 and 3 were 32.8 (49.4); 21.6 (53.6) and 21.3 (62.4) respectively. Only the scores on the Functional Assessment Scale (FAS) accounted for the variance in the weekly total informal care hours at each visit.
Conclusions: Although it must be acknowledged that service use is supply driven, most HD patients across Europe surveyed as part of this study were in receipt of formal primary and community care services and to a lesser extent formal hospital based services. There was however a large reliance on informal care in the home. The FAS appear to have predictive value on informal care requirements and may have utility in facilitating pro-active service provision and in particular when managing carer burden in this population.
Background: Huntington’s disease (HD) is a rare triplet repeat (CAG) disorder. Advanced, multi-centre, multi-national research frameworks are needed to study simultaneously multiple complementary aspects of HD. This includes the natural history of HD, its management and the collection of clinical information and biosamples for research.
Methods: We report on cross-sectional data of the first 1766 participants in REGISTRY, the European Huntington’s Disease Network’s (EHDN), multi-lingual, multi-national prospective observational study of HD in Europe. Data collection (demographics, phenotype, genotype, medication, co-morbidities, biosamples) followed a standard protocol.
Results: Phenotype, and the HD genotype, of manifest HD participants across different European regions was similar. Motor onset was most common (48%) with a non-motor onset in more than a third of participants. Motor signs increased, and cognitive abilities and functional capacity declined as the disease burden (CAGn-35.5) X age) increased. A life-time history of behavioural symptoms was common, but the behavioural score was not related to disease burden. One fifth of participants had severe psychiatric problems, e.g. suicidal ideation and attempts, and/or irritability/aggression, with psychosis being less common. Participants on anti-dyskinetic medication had a higher motor and lower cognitive score, were older, and more prone to physical trauma. A higher motor and a lower cognitive score predicted more advanced disease.
Conclusions: The unparalleled collection of clinical data and biomaterials within the EHDN’s REGISTRY can expedite the search for disease modifiers (genetic and environmental) of age at onset and disease progression that could be harnessed for the development of novel treatments.