Prion protein gene codon 129 modulates clinical course of neurological Wilson disease

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The polymorphism in the human prion protein gene at codon 129 (PRNP 129) determines susceptibility to prion disease, and has been associated with early onset and a more severe course of other neurodegenerative disorders. Here, we tested the hypothesis that PRNP is a disease-modifying gene in clinical Wilson disease with a neurological phenotype. Allele frequencies in patients with clinical Wilson disease were not different from those of a healthy German control population, and PRNP 129 genotypes did not result in different serum copper, serum ceruloplasmin, or copper in 24-h urine concentrations. PRNP 129 methionine homozygosity, however, led to significantly more severe neurological symptoms in elderly patients, particularly tremor, supporting the notion that PRNP 129 homozygosity contributes to neuronal vulnerability.

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