Clinical Phenotype of Adult Fragile X Gray Zone Allele Carriers: a Case Series

Cerebellum. 2016 Oct;15(5):623-31. doi: 10.1007/s12311-016-0809-6.


Considerable research has focused on patients with trinucleotide (CGG) repeat expansions in the fragile X mental retardation 1 (FMR1) gene that fall within either the full mutation (>200 repeats) or premutation range (55-200 repeats). Recent interest in individuals with gray zone expansions (41-54 CGG repeats) has grown due to reported phenotypes that are similar to those observed in premutation carriers, including neurological, molecular, and cognitive signs. The purpose of this manuscript is to describe a series of adults with FMR1 alleles in the gray zone presenting with movement disorders or memory loss. Gray zone carriers ascertained in large FMR1 screening studies were identified and their clinical phenotypes studied. Thirty-one gray zone allele carriers were included, with mean age of symptom onset of 53 years in patients with movement disorders and 57 years in those with memory loss. Four patients were chosen for illustrative case reports and had the following diagnoses: early-onset Parkinson disease (PD), atypical parkinsonism, dementia, and atypical essential tremor. Some gray zone carriers presenting with parkinsonism had typical features, including bradykinesia, rigidity, and a positive response to dopaminergic medication. These patients had a higher prevalence of peripheral neuropathy and psychiatric complaints than would be expected. The patients seen in memory clinics had standard presentations of cognitive impairment with no apparent differences. Further studies are necessary to determine the associations between FMR1 expansions in the gray zone and various phenotypes of neurological dysfunction.

Keywords: Ataxia; Fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome; Movement disorders; Parkinsonism; Trinucleotide repeat expansion.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Multicenter Study
  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Alleles
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein / genetics*
  • Heterozygote*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Memory Disorders / diagnosis
  • Memory Disorders / genetics*
  • Memory Disorders / therapy
  • Middle Aged
  • Movement Disorders / diagnosis
  • Movement Disorders / genetics*
  • Movement Disorders / therapy
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / diagnosis
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / genetics*
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / therapy
  • Phenotype
  • Trinucleotide Repeat Expansion*


  • FMR1 protein, human
  • Fragile X Mental Retardation Protein