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Cortical myoclonus in childhood and juvenile onset Huntington's disease

Elsevier Ltd
DOI: 10.1016/j.parkreldis.2012.03.011
  • Juvenile Huntington Disease
  • Myoclonus
  • Progressive Myoclonus Epilepsy
  • Coherence Analysis
  • Medicine


Abstract Objective Huntington's disease (HD) appearing before the age of 20 years gives rise to a distinct phenotype with respect to the classical adult-onset disease. Here we describe three patients with childhood or juvenile HD onset presenting with action myoclonus. Methods We performed jerk-locked back-averaging (JLBA), EEG-EMG coherence and phase analysis, long-loop reflexes (LLRs) and somatosensory evoked potentials (SSEPs). In one patient, we also performed transcranial magnetic stimulation (TMS) using single and paired pulses. Results In all patients, the EMG features revealed movement activated quasi-rhythmic repetitive jerks; the JLBA and EEG-EMG spectral and coherence profiles indicated a cortical generator of the myoclonus. All patients had enhanced LLRs during muscle contraction, while none showed giant SSEPs. The evaluation of intracortical inhibition by means of TMS revealed reduced inhibition at short and long interstimulus intervals. Conclusions The rhythmic course of the action myoclonus and the characteristics of the LLRs suggest that myoclonus is due to a reverberant circuit involving the motor cortex, possibly because of an imbalance between excitatory and inhibitory cortical neuronal systems. Significance Our findings suggest a similar cortical dysfunction in childhood and juvenile onset HD, which probably results from a specific circuitry impairment.

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