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Published online: 2024-05-31

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Reflexive and voluntary saccadic eye movements as biomarker of Huntington’s Disease

Natalia Grabska1, Magdalena Wójcik-Pędziwiatr12, Jarosław Sławek34, Witold Sołtan4, Justyna Gawryluk5, Marcin Rudziński6, Andrzej Szczudlik6, Monika Rudzińska-Bar1

Abstract

Introduction. Subtle abnormalities in the preclinical stage of Huntington’s Disease (HD) can be detected using saccadic eye movement assessment reflecting disease progression. This study was aimed to evaluate abnormalities in saccade parameters in asymptomatic carriers and symptomatic HD patients at various stages of HD.

Material and methods.
The study enrolled 104 participants, including 14 asymptomatic carriers of HTT mutations, 44 symptomatic HD patients, and 46 control subjects. HD severity was measured using the Unified Huntington’s Disease Rating Scale Total Motor Score (UHDRS–TMS) and Total Functional Capacity Scale (TFC). The evaluation of rapid eye movements (reflexive saccades, anti-saccades, memory-guided saccades) was carried out using ‘Saccadometer Research’.

Results. Measures of reflexive and volitional saccades did not differ between the asymptomatic carriers and controls. Significant latency prolongation and increased physiological variability of latency times, as well as higher error rates among HD patients, were found in all saccade tasks (p < 0.001) compared to the controls. Abnormalities in saccade parameters were more pronounced in the advanced stages of the disease. Latency of saccades and error rate of volitional saccades correlated with the UHDRS–TMS and TFC scores.

Conclusions.
The saccade parameters in asymptomatic HD carriers with a long time to disease development were similar to those in the control group. Saccade abnormalities appeared in symptomatic patients at the beginning of the disease, and correlated with HD severity.

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Neurologia i Neurochirurgia Polska