Prodromal Markers of Upper Limb Deficits in FMR1 Premutation Carriers and Quantitative Outcome Measures for Future Clinical Trials in Fragile X-associated Tremor/Ataxia Syndrome

Mov Disord Clin Pract. 2020 Aug 29;7(7):810-819. doi: 10.1002/mdc3.13045. eCollection 2020 Oct.


Background: Fragile X-associated Tremor/Ataxia Syndrome (FXTAS) is a rare, late-onset neurodegenerative disorder characterized by tremor and cerebellar gait ataxia, affecting premutation carriers (PMC) of CGG expansions (range, 55-200) in the fragile X mental retardation 1 (FMR1) gene. Discovery of early predictors for FXTAS and quantitative characterization of motor deficits are critical for identifying disease onset, monitoring disease progression, and determining efficacy of interventions.

Methods: A total of 39 PMC with FXTAS, 20 PMC without FXTAS, and 27 healthy controls performed a series of upper extremity (UE) motor tasks assessing tremor, bradykinesia, and rapid alternating movements that were quantified using an inertial-based sensor system (Kinesia One; Great Lakes NeuroTechnologies, Cleveland, OH, USA). Sub-scores from the clinician-rated FXTAS Rating Scale were correlated with the severity scores generated by the sensor system to determine its validity in FXTAS.

Results: PMC with FXTAS had significantly worse postural and kinetic tremor compared with PMC without FXTAS (P = 0.02, 0.03) and controls (P = 0.001, 0.0001), respectively, and slower finger tap (P = 0.001), hand movement (P = 0.0001), and rapid alternating movement speed (P = 0.003) and amplitude (P = 0.04) than controls. PMC without FXTAS had significantly worse right finger tap (P = 0.004), hand movement (P = 0.01), and rapid alternating movement speed (P = 0.003) and amplitude (P = 0.02) than controls. FXTAS Rating Scale subscores significantly correlated with all tremorography scores except for finger taps and left rapid alternating movement.

Conclusions: These findings support the use of inertial sensor quantification systems as promising measures for preclinical FXTAS symptom detection in PMC, characterization of the natural history of FXTAS, assessment of medication responses, and outcome assessment in clinical trials.

Keywords: Fragile X‐associated tremor/ataxia syndrome (FXTAS), FMR1 premutation carriers, tremor, bradykinesia, inertial sensor based tremorography.