Familial aggregation of Parkinson disease: a comparative study of early-onset and late-onset disease

Arch Neurol. 2002 May;59(5):848-50. doi: 10.1001/archneur.59.5.848.


Context: It is unclear whether late-onset Parkinson disease (PD), which is the most typical and most common form of the disease, has a familial component. Evidence for familial aggregation is key to whether research should focus on gene discovery or search for environmental factors.

Objective: To investigate familial aggregation of early-onset and late-onset PD separately.

Methods: Using survival methods, age-specific risk of PD was calculated and compared for 525 parents and siblings of 117 patients with early-onset PD, 1642 parents and siblings of 343 patients with late-onset PD, and 522 parents and siblings of 114 controls. The index patients were ascertained from a movement disorder clinic. Spouses and friends served as controls.

Results: Compared with the relatives of controls, age-specific risk of PD was increased 7.76-fold in the relatives of patients with early-onset disease (P<.001) and 2.95-fold in the relatives of those with late-onset disease (P =.02).

Conclusions: Late-onset PD has a significant familial component. The magnitude of recurrence risk to relatives suggests a genetic etiology, without ruling out the possibility of a coexisting environmental component.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age Distribution
  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Family Health*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nuclear Family
  • Parents
  • Parkinson Disease / genetics*
  • Parkinson Disease / mortality*
  • Sex Distribution
  • Survival Analysis