Cerebellar volume mediates the relationship between FMR1 mRNA levels and voluntary step initiation in males with the premutation

Darren R. Hocking*, Rachael C. Birch, Quang M. Bui, Jasmine C. Menant, Stephen R. Lord, Nellie Georgiou-Karistianis, David E. Godler, Wei Wen, Anna Hackett, Carolyn Rogers, Julian N. Trollor

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

8 Citations (Scopus)


Recent evidence indicates that adults with a premutation (PM: 55–199 CGG repeats) expansion in the fragile X mental retardation 1 (FMR1) gene show postural control deficits that may reflect disruption to cerebellar motor regions. Less is known about the influence of reduced cerebellar volume and structural changes, and increase in CGG repeat and FMR1 mRNA levels on the attentional demands of step initiation in PM males. We investigated the effects of a concurrent cognitive task on choice stepping reaction time (CSRT) and explored the associations between CSRT performance, cerebellar volume, CGG size, and FMR1 mRNA levels in blood in PM males. We examined 19 PM males (ages 28–75) and 23 matched controls (CGG <44; ages 26–77), who performed a verbal fluency task during CSRT performance and single-task stepping without a secondary cognitive task. Our results provide preliminary evidence that smaller cerebellar volume (β = −2.73, p = 0.002) and increasing CGG repeat length (β = 1.69, p = 0.003) were associated with greater dual-task step initiation times in PM males, but not in controls. There was evidence of a mediating effect of cerebellar volume on the relationship between FMR1 mRNA levels and single-task CSRT performance in PM males (estimate coefficient = 8.69, standard error = 4.42, p = 0.049). These findings suggest increasing CGG repeat and FMR1 mRNA levels have neurotoxic effects on cerebellar regions underlying anticipatory postural responses during stepping. Cerebellar postural changes may be predictive of the increased risk of falls in older PM males.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-12
Number of pages8
JournalNeurobiology of Aging
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2017
Externally publishedYes


  • cerebellar motor networks
  • choice stepping reaction time
  • cognitive-motor interference
  • FMR1 premutation carrier
  • fragile X mental retardation gene 1 (FMR1)
  • motor symptoms
  • postural balance
  • step initiation


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