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A Gil-Salcedo et al, 2024. Modifiable factors associated with Huntington's disease progression in presymptomatic participants, Ann Clin Transl Neurol.

Modifiable factors associated with Huntington's disease progression in presymptomatic participants

A Gil-Salcedo
Ann Clin Transl Neurol
June 24, 2024


Huntington's disease (HD) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive motor, cognitive, and psychiatric symptoms. Our aim here was to identify factors that can be modified to slow disease progression even before the first symptoms appear.

We included 2636 presymptomatic individuals (comparison with family controls) drawn from the prospective observational cohort Enroll-HD, with more than 35 CAG repeats and at least two assessments of disease progression measured with the composite Huntington's disease rating Scale (cUHDRS). The association between sociodemographic factors, health behaviors, health history, and cUHDRS trajectory was assessed with a mixed-effects random forest using partial dependence plots and Shapley additive explanation method.

Participants were followed by an average of 3.4 (SD = 1.97) years. We confirmed the negative impact of age and a high number of CAG repeats. We found that a high level of education, a body mass index (BMI) <23 kg/m2 before the age of 40 and >23 kg/m2 thereafter, alcohol consumption of <15 units per week, current coffee consumption and no smoking were linked to slow disease progression, as did no previous exposure to antidepressants or anxiolytic, no psychiatric history or comorbidities, and being female. Other comorbidities or marital status showed no major association with HD evolution.

Reducing modifiable risk factors for HD is one way to support the presymptomatic population. A high level of education, low-to-moderate alcohol consumption, no smoking, and BMI control are likely to slow disease progression in this population.

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