October 21, 2015
1 min read

Psychiatric manifestations of Huntington's disease occur more often than previously thought

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Psychiatric manifestations occur more frequently than previously thought in the Huntington’s disease prodrome, according to study findings in the American Journal of Psychiatry.

“Psychiatric symptoms are a significant aspect of Huntington’s disease, an inherited neurodegenerative illness. The presentation of these symptoms is highly variable, and their course does not fully correlate with motor or cognitive disease progression,” Eric A. Epping, MD, PhD, of Carver College of Medicine, University of Iowa, Iowa City, and colleagues wrote.

To better understand the development and longitudinal course of psychiatric manifestations of Huntington’s disease, researchers assessed longitudinal measures of psychiatric symptoms from the Symptom Checklist-90-Revised for 1,007 individuals with the Huntington’s disease mutation and for 298 controls. Researchers also assessed 1,235 companions from the Neurobiological Predictors of Huntington’s disease study.

Of 24 psychiatric measures, 19 were significantly higher at baseline and showed significant longitudinal increases among individuals with the Huntington’s disease mutation compared with controls.

Differences were greatest when comparing symptom reports from companions with self-reports, particularly among individuals closest to motor diagnosis.

“The results reported here provide initial information regarding psychiatric symptoms that occur in individuals who will develop Huntington’s disease and the importance of obtaining assessments from companions,” Epping and colleagues wrote. “This is critical to consider in future studies that assess behavioral manifestations and psychiatric symptoms, including those that investigate their underlying pathophysiology in Huntington’s disease and in therapeutic trials, as well as clinical assessment and management of persons who will develop Huntington’s disease.” – by Amanda Oldt

Disclosure: Epping reports serving as a consultant for Lundbeck. Please see the full study for a list of all authors’ relevant financial disclosures.