Longitudinal personality changes among presymptomatic Huntington disease gene carriers

Sandra Close Kirkwood, Eric Siemers, Richard Viken, M. E. Hodes, P. Michael Conneally, Joe C. Christian, Tatiana Foroud

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

55 Scopus citations


Objective: To determine whether longitudinal changes in personality as measured by the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory (MMPI) can be detected among clinically presymptomatic individuals carrying the expanded Huntington disease (HD) allele. Background: Emotional symptoms are considered one of the cardinal features of HD. However, the literature is replete with conflicting reports of psychiatric symptoms in presymptomatic HD gene carriers. Methods: A longitudinal, case-control, double-blind study comparing presymptomatic gene carriers and nongene carriers at risk for HD evaluated with an abbreviated MMPI and a quantified neurologic rating scale examined an average of 3.7 years apart. Results: Presymptomatic gene carriers (PSGC) had a greater increase in abnormality over time for the MMPI scales, cynical hostility (repeated-measures ANOVA, p = 0.04) and irritability (repeated measures ANOVA, p = 0.005), when compared with the nongene carriers (NGC). Among both the PSGCs and NGCs, no significant correlation was found between the number of CAG repeats and the change in MMPI score between visits. Conclusions: This study provides significant evidence for increasing irritability and cynical hostility in presymptomatic gene carriers before the onset of overt clinical symptoms.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)192-197
Number of pages6
JournalNeuropsychiatry, Neuropsychology and Behavioral Neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2002


  • Huntington disease
  • Longitudinal personality changes
  • Presymptomatic gene carriers

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health
  • Psychology(all)

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  • Cite this

    Kirkwood, S. C., Siemers, E., Viken, R., Hodes, M. E., Conneally, P. M., Christian, J. C., & Foroud, T. (2002). Longitudinal personality changes among presymptomatic Huntington disease gene carriers. Neuropsychiatry, Neuropsychology and Behavioral Neurology, 15(3), 192-197.