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Open Access Commentary

LRRK2 in Parkinson's disease – drawing the curtain of penetrance: a commentary

Rejko Krüger

Author Affiliations

Laboratory of Functional Neurogenomics, Center of Neurology and Hertie-Institute for Clinical Brain Research, University of Tübingen, Germany

BMC Medicine 2008, 6:33  doi:10.1186/1741-7015-6-33

Published: 5 November 2008

Abstract

Parkinson's disease is the most common neurodegenerative movement disorder and affects about 2% of the population over the age of 60 years. In 2004, mutations in the LRRK2 gene were first described and turned out to be the most frequent genetic cause of familial and sporadic Parkinson's disease and may account for up to 40% of patients in distinct populations. Based on these findings, Latourelle and colleagues show that the penetrance of the most common LRRK2 mutation is higher in patients with familial compared with sporadic Parkinson's disease and identified a substantial number of affected relatives of mutation carriers not presenting with a LRRK2 mutation themselves. This commentary discusses the role of genetic and/or environmental susceptibility factors modulating the expressivity of the disease trait, how these factors may contribute to the phenomenon of phenocopies in genetically defined Parkinson's disease pedigrees, and how the findings of Latourelle and colleagues, published this month in BMC Medicine, relate to current concepts of genetic counselling.