Dystonia-plus syndromes

Eur J Neurol. 2010 Jul;17 Suppl 1:37-45. doi: 10.1111/j.1468-1331.2010.03049.x.


Dystonia-plus syndromes represent a heterogeneous group of diseases, where dystonia is accompanied by other neurological features and gene mutations can be detected frequently. Symptomatic dystonias and complex neurodegenerative diseases with dystonia as part of the clinical presentation are excluded from this category. At present, the following disorders are categorized as dystonia-plus syndromes: Dopa-responsive dystonia (DRD) is a mostly pediatric-onset, neurometabolic disorder with two different modes of inheritance: in its autosomal-dominant form, heterozygous mutations of GTP-cyclohydrolase I (GCH1, DYT5) cause DRD with reduced penetrance and excellent and lasting response to levodopa. Autosomal-recessive (AR) forms of DRD are caused by homozygous or compound heterozygous mutations of the tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) or the sepiapterin reductase (SPR) gene. In AR-DRD, the phenotype is generally more severe including cognitive deficits and developmental delay. Diagnosis can be confirmed by analysis of CSF pterine metabolites. Alternatively, comprehensive genetic testing yields causative mutations in up to 80% of patients. Myoclonus-dystonia (M-D) is caused by heterozygous mutations of the epsilon-sarcoglycan gene (SGCE). Dystonia is generally only mild to moderate, and 'lightning-like' myoclonic jerks occur rarely at rest and can be triggered by complex motor tasks like writing and drawing. Both features together with an age at onset below 25 years strongly predict SGCE mutation in M-D and differentiate this genetic disease from other 'jerky' dystonias. The combination of dystonia and parkinsonism can only be rarely observed in non-degenerative syndromes. Besides DRD, two additional syndromes have been classified. Rapid-onset dystonia-parkinsonism (RPD, DYT12) is a rare disorder with an abrupt onset of symptoms over minutes to days, prominent bulbar involvement and parkinsonism with a lack of response to levodopa. Patients with this rare phenotype should be screened for mutation in the Na(+)/K(+) ATPase alpha3-subunit (ATP1A3) gene, even if family history is negative. Recently, a novel form of dystonia-parkinsonism (DYT16) has been found to be linked to mutations in the PRKRA gene, whose relation to basal ganglia disorders is yet unknown .

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Age of Onset
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Dystonia / classification
  • Dystonia / complications*
  • Dystonia / genetics*
  • Dystonia / therapy
  • GTP Cyclohydrolase / genetics
  • Genetic Testing
  • Heterozygote
  • Humans
  • Molecular Chaperones / genetics
  • Mutation
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / etiology
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / genetics
  • Sarcoglycans / genetics
  • Sodium-Potassium-Exchanging ATPase
  • Syndrome
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase / deficiency


  • ATP1A3 protein, human
  • Molecular Chaperones
  • Sarcoglycans
  • TOR1A protein, human
  • Tyrosine 3-Monooxygenase
  • GTP Cyclohydrolase
  • Sodium-Potassium-Exchanging ATPase