Higher blood harmane (1-methyl-9H-pyrido[3,4-b]indole) concentrations correlate with lower olfactory scores in essential tremor

Elan D. Louis, Eileen Rios, Kathryn M. Pellegrino, Wendy Jiang, Pam Factor-Litvak, Wei Zheng

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

11 Scopus citations

Abstract

Background: Harmane (1-methyl-9H-pyrido[3,4-b]indole), a neurotoxin, may be an environmental risk factor for essential tremor (ET). Harmane and related chemicals are toxic to the cerebellum. Whether it is through this mechanism (cerebellar toxicity) that harmane leads to ET is unknown. Impaired olfaction may be a feature of cerebellar disease. Objective: To determine whether blood harmane concentrations correlate with olfactory test scores in patients with ET. Methods: Blood harmane concentrations were quantified using high performance liquid chromatography. Odor identification testing was performed with the University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test (UPSIT). Results: In 83 ET cases, higher log blood harmane concentration was correlated with lower UPSIT score (ρ = -0.46, p < 0.001). 25/40 (62.5%) cases with high log blood harmane concentration (based on a median split) had low UPSIT scores (based on a median split) vs. 12/43 (27.9%) ET cases with low log blood harmane concentration (adjusted odd ratios (OR) 4.04, 95% confidence intervals (CI) 1.42-11.50, p = 0.009). When compared with the low log blood harmane tertile, the odds of olfactory dysfunction were 2.64 times higher in cases in the middle tertile and 10.95 times higher in cases in the high tertile. In 69 control subjects, higher log blood harmane concentration was not correlated with lower UPSIT score (ρ = 0.12, p = 0.32). Conclusions: Blood harmane concentrations were correlated with UPSIT scores in ET cases but not controls. These analyses set the stage for postmortem studies to further explore the role of harmane as a cerebellar toxin in ET.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)460-465
Number of pages6
JournalNeuroToxicology
Volume29
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - May 1 2008

Keywords

  • Cerebellum
  • Epidemiology
  • Essential tremor
  • Harmane
  • Olfaction
  • β-Carboline alkaloid

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Toxicology

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