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The role of genetic factors in idiopathic, late-onset Parkinson's disease (PD) remains unclear, in spite of the recent advances in the genetics of early-onset forms of familial parkinsonism. There is increasing interest in using genetically isolated populations to unravel the genetics of complex diseases such as late-onset PD. We have studied genetic and clinical features of 109 patients with parkinsonism from an area comprising a genetically isolated population in the South-West of the Netherlands. Of the 109 patients with ascertained parkinsonism, 41 patients were diagnosed with PD and could be linked to a common founder 14 generations ago. The distribution of ages at onset of PD in the genetically isolated population was significantly bimodal, showing two peaks (one with a mean at age 67 years and another with a mean at 44 years, the former peak being significantly larger than that in a population-based study, the Rotterdam Study). In other clinical features, the only statistically significant difference between early-onset and late-onset PD was a decreased motor and cognitive function in patients with late-onset PD. Involvement of other PD genes including DJ-1, a gene implicated in a kindred with early-onset parkinsonism from the same genetic isolate, was excluded in other PD patients in the population. The finding of a common ancestor in 41 idiopathic-PD patients along with the exclusion of known PD genes and loci suggests the presence of at least one other, yet unknown, susceptibility gene involved in PD in this population.

Original publication




Journal article


J Neurol

Publication Date





1056 - 1062


Adult, Aged, Female, Humans, Male, Middle Aged, Netherlands, Parkinson Disease, Pedigree, Residence Characteristics, Statistics, Nonparametric