Psychiatric disorders, myoclonus dystonia and SGCE: an international study

Kathryn J Peall, Joke M Dijk, Rachel Saunders-Pullman, Yasmine E M Dreissen, Ilke van Loon, Danielle Cath, Manju A Kurian, Michael J Owen, Elisabeth M J Foncke, Huw R Morris, Thomas Gasser, Susan Bressman, Friedrich Asmus, Marina A J Tijssen

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


OBJECTIVE: Myoclonus-dystonia (M-D) is a hyperkinetic movement disorder, typically alcohol-responsive upper body myoclonus and dystonia. The majority of autosomal dominant familial cases are caused by epsilon-sarcoglycan gene (SGCE) mutations. Previous publications have observed increased rates of psychiatric disorders amongst SGCE mutation-positive populations. We analyzed the psychiatric data from four international centers, forming the largest cohort to date, to further determine the extent and type of psychiatric disorders in M-D.

METHODS: Psychiatric data from SGCE mutation-positive M-D cohorts, collected by movement disorder specialists in the Netherlands, United Kingdom, United States, and Germany, were analyzed. These data were collected using standardized, systematic questionnaires allowing classification of symptoms according to Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders, fourth edition (DSM-IV) criteria. Based on motor findings and SGCE mutation analysis, participants were classified into one of three groups: manifesting carriers, nonmanifesting carriers and noncarriers.

RESULTS: Data from 307 participants were evaluated (140 males, 167 females, mean age at examination: 42.5 years). Two-thirds of motor affected mutation carriers (n = 132) had ≥1 psychiatric diagnosis, specific, and social phobias being most common followed by alcohol dependence and obsessive-compulsive disorder (OCD). Compared to familial controls, affected mutation carriers had significantly elevated overall rates of psychiatric disorders (P < 0.001). The most significant differences were observed with alcohol dependence (P < 0.001), OCD (P < 0.001), social and specific phobias (P < 0.001).

INTERPRETATION: M-D due to SGCE mutations is associated with specific psychiatric disorders, most commonly OCD, anxiety-related disorders, and alcohol dependence. These suggest either a potential pleiotropic function for SGCE within the central nervous system or a secondary effect of the motor disorder.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)4-11
Number of pages8
JournalAnnals of Clinical and Translational Neurology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2016


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