Inverse relationship between age at onset of Huntington disease and paternal age suggests involvement of genetic imprinting

Academic Article


  • It is well recognized that age at onset of Huntington disease (HD) is strongly influenced by the sex of the affected parent, and this has lead to suggestions that genetic imprinting or maternal specific factors may play a role in the expression of the disease. This study evaluated maternal and paternal ages, birth order, parental age at onset, and sex of the affected parent and grandparent in 1,764 patients in the National HD Roster by using linear-regression techniques which incorporated a weighted least-squares approach to accommodate the correlation among siblings. It was found that paternal age is negatively associated with age at onset of HD, particularly among subjects who inherit the mutant gene from grandfathers. Apparent associations between age at onset and birth order and between age at onset and maternal age were not significant after adjustment for paternal age. The paternal age effect is strongest among juvenile-onset cases and individuals with anticipation of ≥ 10 years, although it is detectable across the entire age-at-onset distribution. The tendency for older fathers, including those not transmitting the HD gene, to have affected offspring with early-onset disease may be consistent with a genetic imprinting mechanism involving DNA methylation. Because paternal age in unaffected fathers is also a significant determinant of age at onset, methylation in this context might involve HD modifier genes or the normal HD allele.
  • Published In

    Author List

  • Farrer LA; Cupples LA; Kiely DK; Conneally PM; Myers RH
  • Start Page

  • 528
  • End Page

  • 535
  • Volume

  • 50
  • Issue

  • 3