J Med Genet 44:44-50 doi:10.1136/jmg.2006.045153
  • Original article

Replication of twelve association studies for Huntington’s disease residual age of onset in large Venezuelan kindreds

  1. J M Andresen1,
  2. J Gayán2,
  3. S S Cherny3,
  4. D Brocklebank2,
  5. G Alkorta-Aranburu1,
  6. E A Addis1,
  7. The US-Venezuela Collaborative Research Group,
  8. L R Cardon2,
  9. D E Housman1,
  10. N S Wexler4
  1. 1Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Cambridge, Massachusetts, USA
  2. 2Wellcome Trust Centre for Human Genetics, University of Oxford, Oxford, UK
  3. 3Department of Psychiatry and Genome Research Centre, Li Ka Shing Faculty of Medicine, University of Hong Kong, Hong Kong
  4. 4Columbia University, New York, New York, USA
  1. Correspondence to:
 Dr J M Andresen
 Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 77 Massachusetts Avenue, Cambridge, MA 02139, USA; jma{at}
  • Received 29 June 2006
  • Accepted 1 September 2006
  • Revised 26 August 2006
  • Published Online First 3 October 2006


Background: The major determinant of age of onset in Huntington’s disease is the length of the causative triplet CAG repeat. Significant variance remains, however, in residual age of onset even after repeat length is factored out. Many genetic polymorphisms have previously shown evidence of association with age of onset of Huntington’s disease in several different populations.

Objective: To replicate these genetic association tests in 443 affected people from a large set of kindreds from Venezuela.

Methods: Previously tested polymorphisms were analysed in the HD gene itself (HD), the GluR6 kainate glutamate receptor (GRIK2), apolipoprotein E (APOE), the transcriptional coactivator CA150 (TCERG1), the ubiquitin carboxy-terminal hydrolase L1 (UCHL1), p53 (TP53), caspase-activated DNase (DFFB), and the NR2A and NR2B glutamate receptor subunits (GRIN2A, GRIN2B).

Results: The GRIN2A single-nucleotide polymorphism explains a small but considerable amount of additional variance in residual age of onset in our sample. The TCERG1 microsatellite shows a trend towards association but does not reach statistical significance, perhaps because of the uninformative nature of the polymorphism caused by extreme allele frequencies. We did not replicate the genetic association of any of the other genes.

Conclusions:GRIN2A and TCERG1 may show true association with residual age of onset for Huntington’s disease. The most surprising negative result is for the GRIK2 (TAA)n polymorphism, which has previously shown association with age of onset in four independent populations with Huntington’s disease. The lack of association in the Venezuelan kindreds may be due to the extremely low frequency of the key (TAA)16 allele in this population.


  • Published Online First 13 September 2006

  • Funding: The study was supported by grants from the NINDS, NIH, WM Kneck Foundation and Hereditary Foundation.

  • Competing interests: None.