Gene variants linked to length of survival in Parkinson’s patients

Researchers have established a possible link between gene variations and length of survival in Parkinson’s patients – a possible answer to how long someone lives with Parkinson’s disease.

Researchers say that it may be down to specific gene mutations. Researchers from four institutes in Paris, including the prestigious Paris Brain Institute at the Sorbonne Université, studied the records of 2,037 Parkinson’s disease patients from their first hospital visit and believe the genetic variants may shed light in how fast or slow Parkinson’s disease progresses in cases where a single gene is involved.

Scientists calculated hazard ratios thereby enabling them to compare the survival of patients with a genetic mutation to a control group without a genetic mutation. Patients who had either the LRRK2 or PRKN gene mutations had a longer survival time than patients without a gene mutation (hazard ratio of death = 0.5 and 0.42 respectively). Conversely, those who had the SNCA or GBA mutations had a shorter survival time than those without a mutation (hazard ratio of death = 10.20 and 1.36 respectively).

The study is the first of its kind to compare the survival times of patients carrying these four genes responsible for monogenic forms of Parkinson’s disease.

Parkinson’s disease is a condition in which parts of the brain become progressively damaged over time. There are motor symptoms, including involuntary shaking of parts of the body, slowness of movement, stiffness of muscles, but also non-motor symptoms of the disease such as progressive cognitive decline.2 Around 1.2 million people are living with Parkinson’s Disease in Europe, and this is forecast to double by 2030.3

Monogenic forms of Parkinson’s disease – those caused by a single gene variant – account for approximately 5% of all cases, as most appear to occur sporadically, without any family history.4 A change in the LRRK2 gene is probably the most common genetic variant associated with Parkinson’s disease. People who carry this variant may develop the disease later in life and have a 70% chance of being diagnosed by age 80.5

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