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Keywords:

  • essential tremor;
  • complex inheritance;
  • genetics;
  • linkage analysis

Abstract

A positive family history is present in many patients with essential tremor (ET), but twin studies and segregation analysis have suggested that ET is not entirely a genetic disorder. Two genetic loci have been identified in autosomal dominant (AD) ET and polymorphisms in the DRD3 and HS1-BP3 genes have been proposed as the possible susceptibility factors for ET. There is also evidence for further genetic heterogeneity. We evaluated 4 unrelated large kindreds with ET with an apparent AD mode of transmission. Each kindred spanned at least 3 generations and contained at least 13 living affected subjects who met criteria for definitive ET. None of the pedigrees had evidence for inheritance of ET from both parents. Known genetic ET loci were excluded in these families. We detected a preferential transmission of ET in every kindred and the proportion of affected offspring varied from 75% to 90% (P < 0.05) in the generations with complete ascertainment. Our data indicate that non-Mendelian preferential transmission of an affected allele is a feature in many ET kindreds with multiple affected members and an apparent AD mode of inheritance. ET may have a complex etiology. Additional genetic models need to be considered, including an interaction of susceptibility genes and environmental risk factors. © 2006 Movement Disorder Society