The Impact of Family History on the Clinical Features of Huntington's Disease

Gabe Kringlen*, Lisa Kinsley, Sharon Aufox, Gerald Rouleau, Danny Bega

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

4 Scopus citations


Background: Huntington's disease (HD) is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disorder. In most cases the disease is inherited from a parent, although a considerable number of affected persons have no reported family history of the disease. While CAG repeat length is negatively correlated with age of symptom onset, variability exists suggesting that other variables may influence symptom onset. Objectives: The objective of this study is to determine whether awareness of a family history of HD has an impact on symptom onset and disease manifestations. Methods: Data were obtained from Enroll-HD to compare subjects with a family history of HD to subjects without on various key clinical outcomes. In addition, multiple regressions were performed to investigate the impact of family history on the age at onset of depression and motor symptoms. Results: 4,285 mutation positive subjects were included in the analysis, of which 4.81% had a negative family history. Controlling for CAG repeat length, a positive family history predicted an onset of depression 11.438 years earlier and an onset of motor symptoms 6.681 years earlier when compared to having a negative family history. Subjects with a positive family history were more likely to report behavioral manifestations as the initial major symptom of HD (38.6% vs. 29.6%, p=0.023), and were more likely to report previous suicidal ideation/attempts (26.2% vs. 20.3%, p=0.046). Conclusions: A positive family history of HD appears to be associated with an earlier onset of depression and overall disease manifestations. Implications regarding the role of genetic versus environmental contributions to symptom onset in HD are discussed.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)327-335
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Huntington's Disease
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2017


  • Age at onset
  • Huntington's disease
  • depression
  • family history
  • motor symptoms

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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