Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and Parkinson’s disease (PD) are clinically, pathologically and etiologically disorders embedded in the Lewy body disease (LBD) continuum, characterized by neuronal α-synuclein pathology. Rare homozygous and compound heterozygous premature termination codon (PTC) mutations in the Vacuolar Protein Sorting 13 homolog C gene (VPS13C) are associated with early-onset recessive PD. We observed in two siblings with early-onset age (< 45) and autopsy confirmed DLB, compound heterozygous missense mutations in VPS13C, p.Trp395Cys and p.Ala444Pro, inherited from their healthy parents in a recessive manner. In lymphoblast cells of the index patient, the missense mutations reduced VPS13C expression by 90% (p = 0.0002). Subsequent, we performed targeted resequencing of VPS13C in 844 LBD patients and 664 control persons. Using the optimized sequence kernel
association test, we obtained a significant association (p = 0.0233) of rare VPS13C genetic variants (minor allele frequency ≤ 1%) with LBD. Among the LBD patients, we identified one patient with homozygous missense mutations
and three with compound heterozygous missense mutations in trans position, indicative for recessive inheritance. In four patients with compound heterozygous mutations, we were unable to determine trans position. The frequency
of LBD patient carriers of proven recessive compound heterozygous missense mutations is 0.59% (5/844). In autopsy brain tissue of two unrelated LBD patients, the recessive compound heterozygous missense mutations reduced VPS13C expression. Overexpressing of wild type or mutant VPS13C in HeLa or SH-SY5Y cells, demonstrated that the mutations p.Trp395Cys or p.Ala444Pro, abolish the endosomal/lysosomal localization of VPS13C. Overall, our data indicate that rare missense mutations in VPS13C are associated with LBD and recessive compound heterozygous missense mutations might have variable effects on the expression and functioning of VPS13C. We conclude that comparable to the recessive inherited PTC mutations in VPS13C, combinations of rare recessive compound heterozygous missense mutations reduce VPS13C expression and contribute to increased risk of LBD.