Fragile X premutation carriers do not have typical fragile X syndrome (FXS) although late-onset progressive action tremor and gait disorder with CNS atrophy was recently reported in male carriers. We compared tremor, gait disorder and parkinsonian signs in FXS premutation subjects (age 50 or more) and a similar control population, using a standardized videotaping protocol. Videotapes were rated using standard scales for tremor (CRST), ataxia (ICARS), and parkinsonian signs (UPDRS) by an investigator blinded to premutation status. Compared to all other groups pooled (n = 30), the male premutation carrier group (n = 7) had significantly higher scores on the CRST (p = 0.0008), ICARS (p = 0.001), and UPDRS (p = 0.0094). On the CRST, rest, postural and kinetic tremor scores were all higher in the male carriers. The elevated total UPDRS and ICARS scores mainly resulted from markedly higher scores for tremor and limb ataxia, respectively. The female carrier (n = 14) and control groups (n = 8) did not differ on any measure. The FMR1 premutation is associated with increased levels of CGG repeat-containing FMR1 mRNA, which may predispose to these symptoms by interfering with nuclear mechanisms. Given the relatively high population frequency of the FMR1 premutation, this mutation may be a significant cause of late-onset "idiopathic" progressive tremor.
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