Clinical aspects of CAG repeat diseases

Brain Pathol. 1997 Jul;7(3):881-900. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3639.1997.tb00892.x.


Seven neurodegenerative disorders are known to be caused by unstable expansions of the trinucleotide CAG within human genes, and more will be discovered in the coming years. These disorders share some clinical similarities, as well as some differences, which are summarized here. These diseases have unusual clinical genetic properties related to the dynamic nature of CAG repeat expansions, including instability of the repeat expansion in meiosis, particularly male meiosis; a strong correlation between onset age and size of the repeat expansion; anticipation (earlier disease onset in succeeding generations); new mutations arising from unstable, mutable alleles with a high-normal CAG repeat number; and reduced penetrance for alleles in the low-affected range. Much more remains to be learned about the molecular biology and clinical pathophysiology of this new class of genetic diseases.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Huntington Disease / genetics
  • Movement Disorders / genetics
  • Muscular Atrophy / genetics
  • Muscular Atrophy, Spinal / genetics
  • Mutation
  • Nerve Degeneration / genetics*
  • Spinocerebellar Degenerations / genetics
  • Trinucleotide Repeats*