Saccades in presymptomatic and early stages of Huntington disease

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Abstract

Objective:

To evaluate quantitative measures of eye movements as possible biomarkers in prediagnostic and early stages of Huntington disease (HD).

Methods:

The study sample (n = 215) included individuals both at risk and recently diagnosed with HD. All participants completed a uniform clinical evaluation which included administration of the Unified Huntington’s Disease Rating Scale (UHDRS) by a movement disorder neurologist and molecular testing to determine HD gene status. A high resolution, video-based eye tracking system was employed to quantify measures of eye movement (error rates, latencies, SD of latencies, velocities, and accuracies) during a computerized battery of saccadic and steady fixation tasks.

Results:

Prediagnostic HD gene carriers and individuals with early HD demonstrated three types of significant abnormalities while performing memory guided and anti-saccade tasks: increased error rate, increased saccade latency, and increased variability of saccade latency. The eye movement abnormalities increased with advancing motor signs of HD.

Conclusions:

Abnormalities in eye movement measures are a sensitive biomarker in the prediagnostic and early stages of Huntington disease (HD). These measures may be more sensitive to prediagnostic changes in HD than the currently employed neurologic motor assessment.

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