Dopa-responsive dystonia (DRD), also known as Segawa syndrome, is a phenotypically and genetically heterogeneous group of neurological disorders that typically presents as early-onset lower limb dystonia with diurnal fluctuation, and exhibits a marked, persistent response to levodopa. Heterozygous loss-of-function mutations in the guanosine triphosphate cyclohydrolase 1 (GCH1) are the most common cause of DRD. In addition to the classic form of the disease, there have been a number of studies addressing atypical clinical features of GCH1 related DRD with variable age of onset. This report describes a 37-year-old Japanese male patient with a 10-year history of focal upper limb dystonia that initially emerged as task-specific, guitarist's cramp. The dystonic symptoms responded very well to levodopa treatment, and genetic analysis identified a novel heterozygous mutation in the C-terminal catalytic domain of GCH1. Insufficient recognition of this treatable condition often leads to misdiagnosis, which causes delays in the patient receiving adequate dopamine replenishing therapy. A diagnostic trial with levodopa should be considered in all patients with relatively young-onset dystonia, whether they have classic features of DRD or not.
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