Association of Essential Tremor With Novel Risk Loci: A Genome-Wide Association Study and Meta-analysis

JAMA Neurol. 2022 Feb 1;79(2):185-193. doi: 10.1001/jamaneurol.2021.4781.


Importance: Essential tremor (ET) is one of the most common movement disorders, affecting 5% of the general population older than 65 years. Common variants are thought to contribute toward susceptibility to ET, but no variants have been robustly identified.

Objective: To identify common genetic factors associated with risk of ET.

Design, setting, and participants: Case-control genome-wide association study. Inverse-variance meta-analysis was used to combine cohorts. Multicenter samples collected from European populations were collected from January 2010 to September 2019 as part of an ongoing study. Included patients were clinically diagnosed with or reported having ET. Control individuals were not diagnosed with or reported to have ET. Of 485 250 individuals, data for 483 054 passed data quality control and were used.

Main outcomes and measures: Genotypes of common variants associated with risk of ET.

Results: Of the 483 054 individuals included, there were 7177 with ET (3693 [51.46%] female; mean [SD] age, 62.66 [15.12] years), and 475 877 control individuals (253 785 [53.33%] female; mean [SD] age, 56.40 [17.6] years). Five independent genome-wide significant loci and were identified and were associated with approximately 18% of ET heritability. Functional analyses found significant enrichment in the cerebellar hemisphere, cerebellum, and axonogenesis pathways. Genetic correlation (r), which measures the degree of genetic overlap, revealed significant common variant overlap with Parkinson disease (r, 0.28; P = 2.38 × 10-8) and depression (r, 0.12; P = 9.78 × 10-4). A separate fine-mapping of transcriptome-wide association hits identified genes such as BACE2, LRRN2, DHRS13, and LINC00323 in disease-relevant brain regions, such as the cerebellum.

Conclusions and relevance: The results of this genome-wide association study suggest that a portion of ET heritability can be explained by common genetic variation and can help identify new common genetic risk factors for ET.

Publication types

  • Meta-Analysis

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Case-Control Studies
  • Essential Tremor / genetics*
  • Female
  • Genetic Predisposition to Disease / genetics
  • Genetic Variation
  • Genome-Wide Association Study
  • Genotype
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Transcriptome