Specific Gait Changes in Prodromal Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia Type 4: preSPG4 Study

Mov Disord. 2022 Dec;37(12):2417-2426. doi: 10.1002/mds.29199. Epub 2022 Aug 29.


Background: In hereditary spastic paraplegia type 4 (SPG4), subclinical gait changes might occur years before patients realize gait disturbances. The prodromal phase of neurodegenerative disease is of particular interest to halt disease progression by future interventions before impairment has manifested.

Objective: The objective of this study was to identify specific movement abnormalities before the manifestation of gait impairment and quantify disease progression in the prodromal phase.

Methods: Seventy subjects participated in gait assessment, including 30 prodromal SPAST pathogenic variant carriers, 17 patients with mild-to-moderate manifest SPG4, and 23 healthy control subjects. An infrared-camera-based motion capture system assessed gait to analyze features such as range of motion and continuous angle trajectories. Those features were correlated with disease severity as assessed by the Spastic Paraplegia Rating Scale, neurofilament light chain as a fluid biomarker indicating neurodegeneration, and motor-evoked potentials.

Results: Compared with healthy control subjects, we found an altered gait pattern in prodromal pathogenic variant carriers during the swing phase in the segmental angle of the foot (Dunn's post hoc test, q = 3.1) and heel ground clearance (q = 2.8). Furthermore, range of motion of segmental angle was reduced for the foot (q = 3.3). These changes occurred in prodromal pathogenic variant carriers without quantified leg spasticity in clinical examination. Gait features correlated with neurofilament light chain levels, central motor conduction times of motor-evoked potentials, and Spastic Paraplegia Rating Scale score.

Conclusions: Gait analysis can quantify changes in prodromal and mild-to-moderate manifest SPG4 patients. Thus, gait features constitute promising motor biomarkers characterizing the subclinical progression of spastic gait and might help to evaluate interventions in early disease stages. © 2022 The Authors. Movement Disorders published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.

Keywords: SPG4; gait analysis; hereditary spastic paraplegia; motor biomarker; prodromal.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Disease Progression
  • Gait / physiology
  • Humans
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases*
  • Paraplegia
  • Spastic Paraplegia, Hereditary* / diagnosis
  • Spastin


  • SPAST protein, human
  • Spastin

Supplementary concepts

  • Spastic Paraplegia Type 4