Neurological effects of glucocerebrosidase gene mutations
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The association between Gaucher disease (GD) and Parkinson disease (PD) has been described for almost two decades. In the biallelic state (homozygous or compound heterozygous) mutations in the glucocerebrosidase gene (GBA) may cause GD, in which glucosylceramide, the sphingolipid substrate of the glucocerebrosidase enzyme (GCase), accumulates in visceral organs leading to a number of clinical phenotypes. In the biallelic or heterozygous state, GBA mutations increase the risk for PD. Mutations of the GBA allele are the most significant genetic risk factor for idiopathic PD, found in 5%-20% of idiopathic PD cases depending on ethnicity. The neurological consequences of GBA mutations are reviewed and the proposition that GBA mutations result in a disparate but connected range of clinically and pathologically related neurological features is discussed. The literature relating to the clinical, biochemical and genetic basis of GBA PD, type 1 GD and neuronopathic GD is considered highlighting commonalities and distinctions between them. The evidence for a unifying disease mechanism is considered.
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