Frequency and Intensity of Premonitory Urges-to-Tic in Tourette Syndrome Is Associated With Supplementary Motor Area GABA+ Levels

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Mov Disord. 2021 Dec 2. doi: 10.1002/mds.28868. Online ahead of print.


BACKGROUND: Individuals with Tourette syndrome (TS) often report that they express tics as a means of alleviating the experience of unpleasant sensations. These sensations are perceived as an urge to act and are referred to as premonitory urges. Premonitory urges have been the focus of recent efforts to develop interventions to reduce tic expression in those with TS.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this study was to examine the contribution of brain γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA) and glutamate levels of the right primary sensorimotor cortex (SM1), supplementary motor area (SMA), and insular cortex (insula) to tic and urge severity in children with TS.

METHODS: Edited magnetic resonance spectroscopy was used to assess GABA+ (GABA + macromolecules) and Glx (glutamate + glutamine) of the right SM1, SMA, and insula in 68 children with TS (MAge = 10.59, SDAge = 1.33) and 41 typically developing control subjects (MAge = 10.26, SDAge = 2.21). We first compared GABA+ and Glx levels of these brain regions between groups. We then explored the association between regional GABA+ and Glx levels with urge and tic severity.

RESULTS: GABA+ and Glx of the right SM1, SMA, and insula were comparable between the children with TS and typically developing control subjects. In children with TS, lower levels of SMA GABA+ were associated with more severe and more frequent premonitory urges. Neither GABA+ nor Glx levels were associated with tic severity.

CONCLUSIONS: These results broadly support the role of GABAergic neurotransmission within the SMA in the experience of premonitory urges in children with TS. © 2021 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.

PMID:34854494 | DOI:10.1002/mds.28868