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Tourette Syndrome

See Also:
Tourette Syndrome: General Description
Tourette Syndrome: Signs & Symptoms
Tourette Syndrome: Diagnosis
Tourette Syndrome: Treatment Options

General Description

Tourette syndrome is a genetic neurological disorder characterized by motor and vocal tics. A tic is a sudden, repetitive, and involuntary muscle movement or sound displayed unconsciously.

Tics are very common in teenagers, but lots of people either have them for a limited period of time (less than one year) or for a longer period of time. Tics can exist in mild forms and do not interfere with a person's life. If tics are severe and last more than one year, this condition is called Chronic Tic Disorder, but there are cases when tics are a manifestation of what is called Tourette Syndrome.

This disorder was named after the French neurologist George Gilles de la Tourette and it was described for the first time in 1885. Tourette syndrome is considered a genetic condition, that is either inherited from parents or emerges when the fetus develops. It is not currently known how this disorder is inherited, but initial studies suggested that Tourette Syndrome has an autosomal dominant mode of inheritance. An autosomal dominant disorder is a disorder that occurs when just one single copy of the defective gene, inherited from one parent, appear in the children genetic code.

One of the genes associated with TS is SLITRK1. A mutation of this gene was identified in a small number of patients with Tourette Syndrome. This gene provides the instruction necessary for a certain protein, that is active in the brain, to be produced. The SLITRK1 protein is considered to play an important role in the development of nerve cells, including the growth of specialized extensions (axons and dendrites) that allow the cell to communicate with nearby nerve cells. However, it is not known how the mutation of this gene leads to the development of this disorder.

 

More recent studies show that the pattern of inheritance is much more complex and environmental factors may also play an important role.

Signs of Tourette Syndrome become apparent in childhood or teenage years. Males seem to be three to four time more affected by this syndrome than females. Tourette Syndrome is a chronic disorder with symptoms that last over the entire life. Its symptoms are more aggressive in pre-teen to young teen years, become softer in the late teenager years and continue to improve during adult years.

Tourette syndrome is not a common disorder and statistics show that just one in 1,000 or 2,000 people has this disorder. The causes of this syndrome are not known, but scientists consider that the syndrome might by caused by certain problems in the nerve communication process inside the brain: (1) abnormalities in certain brain regions including basal ganglia, frontal lobes, and cortex, (2) impaired circuits that connect these regions and (3) neurotransmitters problems including dopamine, serotonin, and norepinephrine.

See Also:
Tourette Syndrome: General Description
Tourette Syndrome: Signs & Symptoms
Tourette Syndrome: Diagnosis
Tourette Syndrome: Treatment Options

Tourrette's is sometimes mistakenly spelled Turrets Syndrome, or Turretts Syndrome.

 

Article by Alina Morrow, MS
Medical Writer,
OmniMedicalSearch.com

 

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Page Last Modified:
11/02/2010