Article Text

Download PDFPDF
H07 The Familiality Of Psychiatric Symptoms In Huntington’s Disease
  1. J De Souza1,2,
  2. K Gordon-Smith2,3,
  3. L Jones2,
  4. H Rickards1,2
  1. 1Department of Neuropsychiatry, Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Foundation Trust, National Centre for Mental Health, The Barberry, Birmingham, UK
  2. 2Department of Psychiatry,School of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Birmingham, Birmingham, UK
  3. 3Institute of Psychological Medicine and Clinical Neurosciences, Cardiff University School of Medicine, Cardiff, UK


Background Psychiatric symptoms are more prevalent in Huntington’s disease (HD) than in the general population; however, the reasons for this overrepresentation are unknown. Previous small-scale studies demonstrating clustering of particular psychiatric phenotypes in some HD families suggest that familial (genetic and/or environmental) factors may play a role.

Aim To determine whether psychiatric syndromes and symptoms aggregate in families affected with HD by conducting a systematic, standardised assessment in a large sample of sibling pairs with HD.

Method Fifty-three sibling pairs (86 individuals from 40 families) who were all gene positive for HD underwent a lifetime psychiatric history assessment using the Schedules for Clinical Assessment in Neuropsychiatry (SCAN) and a modified version of the Problem Behaviours Assessment for Huntington’s disease (PBA-HD).

Results Moderate and significant within-pair associations were found for: i) lifetime DSM-IV diagnosis of any depressive disorder (n = 50, κ=0.444, p = 0.002); ii) lifetime severity of depression (the depression sub-scale score of the Bipolar Affective Disorder Dimensional Scale) (n = 50, ICC=0.36, p = 0.005); and, iii) lifetime history of aggression and irritability (n = 52, κ=0.418, p = 0.003; n = 52, κ=0.341, p = 0.013 respectively).

Conclusion The clustering of depressive disorder, irritability and aggression in some HD families indicates the importance of familial factors (perhaps biological) in the aetiology of these psychiatric syndromes/symptoms in HD.

  • Huntington’s disease
  • psychiatric symptoms
  • familiality

Statistics from

Request Permissions

If you wish to reuse any or all of this article please use the link below which will take you to the Copyright Clearance Center’s RightsLink service. You will be able to get a quick price and instant permission to reuse the content in many different ways.