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1.  Social conceptual impairments in frontotemporal lobar degeneration with right anterior temporal hypometabolism 
Brain  2009;132(3):604-616.
Inappropriate social behaviours are early and distinctive symptoms of the temporal and frontal variants of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). Knowledge of social behaviour is essential for appropriate social conduct. It is unknown, however, in what way this knowledge is degraded in FTLD. In a recent functional MRI study, we have identified a right-lateralized superior anterior temporal lobe (aTL) region showing selective activation for ‘social concepts’ (i.e. concepts describing social behaviour: e.g. ‘polite’, ‘stingy’) as compared with concepts describing less socially relevant animal behaviour (‘animal function concepts’: e.g. ‘trainable’, ‘nutritious’). In a further fMRI study, superior aTL activation was independent of the context of actions and feelings associated with these social concepts. Here, we investigated whether the right superior sector of the aTL is necessary for context-independent knowledge of social concepts. We assessed neuronal glucose uptake using 18-fluoro-deoxy-glucose-positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) and a novel semantic discrimination task which probed knowledge of social and animal function concepts in patients with FTLD (n = 29) and corticobasal syndrome (n = 18). FTLD and corticobasal syndrome groups performed equally poorly on animal function concepts but FTLD patients showed more pronounced impairments on social concepts than corticobasal syndrome patients. FTLD patients with right superior aTL hypometabolism, as determined on individual ROI analyses, were significantly more impaired on social concepts than on animal function concepts. FTLD patients with selective impairments for social concepts, as determined on individual neuropsychological profiles, showed higher levels of inappropriate social behaviours (‘disinhibition’) and demonstrated more pronounced hypometabolism in the right superior aTL, the left temporal pole and the right lateral orbitofrontal and dorsomedial prefrontal cortex as compared with FTLD patients showing selective impairments of animal function concepts. Combining both FTLD subgroup analyses, based on anatomical and neuropsychological criteria, by using inclusive masks, revealed the right superior aTL as associated with selective impairments of social concepts in both analyses. These results corroborate the hypothesis that the right aTL is necessary for representing conceptual social knowledge. Further, we provide first evidence for the potential importance of conceptual social knowledge impairments as contributing to behavioural symptoms of FTLD.
PMCID: PMC2724922  PMID: 19153155
frontotemporal dementia; semantics; social cognition; anterior temporal lobe; social behaviour
2.  Neural correlates of the DemTect in Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal lobar degeneration – A combined MRI & FDG-PET study☆ 
NeuroImage : Clinical  2013;2:746-758.
Valid screening devices are critical for an early diagnosis of dementia. The DemTect is such an internationally accepted tool. We aimed to characterize the neural networks associated with performance on the DemTect's subtests in two frequent dementia syndromes: early Alzheimer's disease (AD) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). Voxel-based group comparisons of cerebral glucose utilization (as measured by F-18-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography) and gray matter atrophy (as measured by structural magnetic resonance imaging) were performed on data from 48 subjects with AD (n = 21), FTLD (n = 14) or subjective cognitive impairment (n = 13) as a control group. We performed group comparisons and correlation analyses between multimodal imaging data and performance on the DemTect's subtests. Group comparisons showed regional patterns consistent with previous findings for AD and FTLD. Interestingly, atrophy dominated in FTLD, whereas hypometabolism in AD. Across diagnostic groups performance on the “wordlist” subtest was positively correlated with glucose metabolism in the left temporal lobe. The “number transcoding” subtest was significantly associated with glucose metabolism in both a predominantly left lateralized frontotemporal network and a parietooccipital network including parts of the basal ganglia. Moreover, this subtest was associated with gray matter density in an extensive network including frontal, temporal, parietal and occipital areas. No significant correlates were observed for the “supermarket task” subtest. Scores on the “digit span reverse” subtest correlated with glucose metabolism in the left frontal cortex, the bilateral putamen, the head of caudate nucleus and the anterior insula. Disease-specific correlation analyses could partly verify or extend the correlates shown in the analyses across diagnostic groups. Correlates of gray matter density were found in FTLD for the “number transcoding” subtest and the “digit span reverse” subtest. Correlates of glucose metabolism were found in AD for the “wordlist” subtest and in FTLD for the “digit span reverse” subtest. Our study contributes to the understanding of the neural correlates of cognitive deficits in AD and FTLD and supports an external validation of the DemTect providing preliminary conclusions about disease-specific correlates.
•The DemTect is a frequently used clinical instrument to assess dementia syndromes.•Neural correlates of the DemTect's subtests were examined with MRI & PET imaging data.•Atrophy dominates in early FTLD, whereas hypometabolism in early AD.•The DemTect's neural correlates were investigated in early AD and FTLD.•Study contributes to the validation of the DemTect as a dementia screening instrument.
PMCID: PMC3777755  PMID: 24179826
AD, Alzheimer's disease; ANOVA, Analysis of variance; BA, Brodmann area; CDR, Clinical dementia rating scale; DARTEL, Diffeomorphic anatomical registration through exponentiated lie algebra; FDG-PET, F-18-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography; FTLD, Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; MMSE, Mini-Mental State Examination; MNI, Montreal Neurological Institute; MRI, Magnetic resonance imaging; PVE, Partial volume effects; SPM, Statistical parametric mapping; Alzheimer's disease; DemTect; FDG-PET; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; MRI; Voxel based morphometry
3.  Amyloid vs FDG-PET in the differential diagnosis of AD and FTLD 
Neurology  2011;77(23):2034-2042.
To compare the diagnostic performance of PET with the amyloid ligand Pittsburgh compound B (PiB-PET) to fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG-PET) in discriminating between Alzheimer disease (AD) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD).
Patients meeting clinical criteria for AD (n = 62) and FTLD (n = 45) underwent PiB and FDG-PET. PiB scans were classified as positive or negative by 2 visual raters blinded to clinical diagnosis, and using a quantitative threshold derived from controls (n = 25). FDG scans were visually rated as consistent with AD or FTLD, and quantitatively classified based on the region of lowest metabolism relative to controls.
PiB visual reads had a higher sensitivity for AD (89.5% average between raters) than FDG visual reads (77.5%) with similar specificity (PiB 83%, FDG 84%). When scans were classified quantitatively, PiB had higher sensitivity (89% vs 73%) while FDG had higher specificity (83% vs 98%). On receiver operating characteristic analysis, areas under the curve for PiB (0.888) and FDG (0.910) were similar. Interrater agreement was higher for PiB (κ = 0.96) than FDG (κ = 0.72), as was agreement between visual and quantitative classification (PiB κ = 0.88–0.92; FDG κ = 0.64–0.68). In patients with known histopathology, overall classification accuracy (2 visual and 1 quantitative classification per patient) was 97% for PiB (n = 12 patients) and 87% for FDG (n = 10).
PiB and FDG showed similar accuracy in discriminating AD and FTLD. PiB was more sensitive when interpreted qualitatively or quantitatively. FDG was more specific, but only when scans were classified quantitatively. PiB slightly outperformed FDG in patients with known histopathology.
PMCID: PMC3236517  PMID: 22131541
4.  Dissociating Memory Networks in Early Alzheimer’s Disease and Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration - A Combined Study of Hypometabolism and Atrophy 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e55251.
We aimed at dissociating the neural correlates of memory disorders in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD).
We included patients with AD (n = 19, 11 female, mean age 61 years) and FTLD (n = 11, 5 female, mean age 61 years) in early stages of their diseases. Memory performance was assessed by means of verbal and visual memory subtests from the Wechsler Memory Scale (WMS-R), including forgetting rates. Brain glucose utilization was measured by [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) and brain atrophy by voxel-based morphometry (VBM) of T1-weighted magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) scans. Using a whole brain approach, correlations between test performance and imaging data were computed separately in each dementia group, including a group of control subjects (n = 13, 6 female, mean age 54 years) in both analyses. The three groups did not differ with respect to education and gender.
Patients in both dementia groups generally performed worse than controls, but AD and FTLD patients did not differ from each other in any of the test parameters. However, memory performance was associated with different brain regions in the patient groups, with respect to both hypometabolism and atrophy: Whereas in AD patients test performance was mainly correlated with changes in the parieto-mesial cortex, performance in FTLD patients was correlated with changes in frontal cortical as well as subcortical regions. There were practically no overlapping regions associated with memory disorders in AD and FTLD as revealed by a conjunction analysis.
Memory test performance may not distinguish between both dementia syndromes. In clinical practice, this may lead to misdiagnosis of FTLD patients with poor memory performance. Nevertheless, memory problems are associated with almost completely different neural correlates in both dementia syndromes. Obviously, memory functions are carried out by distributed networks which break down in brain degeneration.
PMCID: PMC3573064  PMID: 23457466
5.  Greater medial temporal hypometabolism and lower cortical amyloid burden in ApoE4-positive AD patients 
ApoE4 has been associated with an increased risk of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), amyloid deposition and hypometabolism. ApoE4 is less prevalent in non-amnestic AD variants suggesting a direct effect on the clinical phenotype. However, the impact of ApoE4 on amyloid burden and glucose metabolism across different clinical AD syndromes is not well understood. We aimed to assess the relationship between amyloid deposition, glucose metabolism and ApoE4 genotype in a clinically heterogeneous population of AD patients.
Fifty-two patients with probable AD (NIA-AA) underwent [11C]Pittsburgh compound B (PIB) and [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) PET scans. All patients had positive PIB-PET scans. 23 were ApoE4+ (14 heterozygous, 9 homozygous) and 29 were ApoE4−. Groups consisted of language-variant AD, visual-variant AD, and AD patients with amnestic and dysexecutive deficits. 52 healthy controls were included for comparison. FDG and PIB uptake was compared between groups on a voxel-wise basis and in regions-of-interest.
Whilst PIB patterns were diffuse in both patient groups, ApoE4− patients showed higher PIB uptake than ApoE4+ patients across the cortex. Higher PIB uptake in ApoE4− patients was particularly significant in right lateral frontotemporal regions. In contrast, similar patterns of hypometabolism relative to controls were found in both patient groups, mainly involving lateral temporoparietal cortex, precuneus, posterior cingulate cortex, and middle frontal gyrus. Comparing patient groups, ApoE4+ subjects showed greater hypometabolism in bilateral medial temporal and right lateral temporal regions, and ApoE4− patients showed greater hypometabolism in cortical areas including supplementary motor cortex and superior frontal gyrus.
ApoE4+ AD patients showed lower global amyloid burden and greater medial temporal hypometabolism compared to matched ApoE4− patients. These findings suggest that ApoE4 may increase susceptibility to molecular pathology and modulate the anatomic pattern of neurodegeneration in AD.
PMCID: PMC3946299  PMID: 23965289
Alzheimer’s disease; PET; amyloid; glucose metabolism; apolipoprotein E
6.  Distinct MRI Atrophy Patterns in Autopsy-Proven Alzheimer’s Disease and Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration 
To better define the anatomic distinctions between Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), we retrospectively applied voxel-based morphometry to the earliest magnetic resonance imaging scans of autopsy-proven AD (N=11), FTLD (N=18), and controls (N=40). Compared with controls, AD patients showed gray matter reductions in posterior temporoparietal and occipital cortex; FTLD patients showed atrophy in medial prefrontal and medial temporal cortex, insula, hippocampus, and amygdala; and patients with both disorders showed atrophy in dorsolateral and orbital prefrontal cortex and lateral temporal cortex (PFWE-corr < .05). Compared with FTLD, AD patients had decreased gray matter in posterior parietal and occipital cortex, whereas FTLD patients had selective atrophy in anterior cingulate, frontal insula, subcallosal gyrus, and striatum (P < .001, uncorrected). These findings suggest that AD and FTLD are anatomically distinct, with degeneration of a posterior parietal network in AD and degeneration of a paralimbic fronto-insular-striatal network in FTLD.
PMCID: PMC2443731  PMID: 18166607
Alzheimer’s disease; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; autopsy; magnetic resonance imaging; voxel-based morphometry
7.  Brain metabolic maps in Mild Cognitive Impairment predict heterogeneity of progression to dementia 
NeuroImage : Clinical  2014;7:187-194.
[18F]FDG-PET imaging has been recognized as a crucial diagnostic marker in Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI), supporting the presence or the exclusion of Alzheimer's Disease (AD) pathology. A clinical heterogeneity, however, underlies MCI definition. In this study, we aimed to evaluate the predictive role of single-subject voxel-based maps of [18F]FDG distribution generated through statistical parametric mapping (SPM) in the progression to different dementia subtypes in a sample of 45 MCI. Their scans were compared to a large normal reference dataset developed and validated for comparison at single-subject level. Additionally, Aβ42 and Tau CSF values were available in 34 MCI subjects. Clinical follow-up (mean 28.5 ± 7.8 months) assessed subsequent progression to AD or non-AD dementias. The SPM analysis showed: 1) normal brain metabolism in 14 MCI cases, none of them progressing to dementia; 2) the typical temporo-parietal pattern suggestive for prodromal AD in 15 cases, 11 of them progressing to AD; 3) brain hypometabolism suggestive of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) subtypes in 7 and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) in 2 subjects (all fulfilled FTLD or DLB clinical criteria at follow-up); and 4) 7 MCI cases showed a selective unilateral or bilateral temporo-medial hypometabolism without the typical AD pattern, and they all remained stable. In our sample, objective voxel-based analysis of [18F]FDG-PET scans showed high predictive prognostic value, by identifying either normal brain metabolism or hypometabolic patterns suggestive of different underlying pathologies, as confirmed by progression at follow-up. These data support the potential usefulness of this SPM [18F]FDG PET analysis in the early dementia diagnosis and for improving subject selection in clinical trials based on MCI definition.
•We used an optimized voxel-based single-subject [18F]FDG-PET analysis•We showed different hypometabolic patterns (AD and non-AD) underlying MCI condition•Heterogeneous PET profiles predicted progression into specific dementia subtypes.•Statistical analyses showed high positive and negative post-test probability values.•CSF findings agreed with [18F]FDG-PET imaging in single cases.
PMCID: PMC4300010  PMID: 25610780
Mild Cognitive Impairment; [18F]FDG; PET imaging; Dementia diagnosis; Alzheimer's disease
8.  Tau Pathology in Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration with C9ORF72 Hexanucleotide Repeat Expansion 
Acta neuropathologica  2012;125(2):289-302.
An expanded GGGGCC hexanucleotide repeat in C9ORF72 is the most common genetic cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration associated with TDP-43 pathology (FTLD-TDP). In addition to TDP-43-positive neuronal and glial inclusions, C9ORF72-linked FTLD-TDP has characteristic TDP-43-negative neuronal cytoplasmic and intranuclear inclusions as well as dystrophic neurites in the hippocampus and cerebellum. These lesions are immunopositive for ubiquitin and ubiquitin-binding proteins, such as sequestosome-1/p62 and ubiquilin-2. Studies examining the frequency of the C9ORF72 mutation in clinically probable Alzheimer’s disease (AD) have found a small proportion of AD cases with the mutation. This prompted us to systematically explore the frequency of Alzheimer type pathology in a series of 17 FTLD-TDP cases with mutations in C9ORF72 (FTLD-C9ORF72). We identified 4 cases with sufficient Alzheimer type pathology to meet criteria for intermediate-to-high likelihood AD. We compared AD pathology in the 17 FTLD-C9ORF72 to 13 cases of FTLD-TDP linked to mutations in the gene for progranulin (FTLD-GRN) and 36 cases of sporadic FTLD (sFTLD). FTLD-C9ORF72 cases had higher Braak neurofibrillary tangle stage than FTLD-GRN. Increased tau pathology in FTLD-C9ORF72 was assessed with thioflavin-S fluorescent microscopy-based neurofibrillary tangle counts and with image analysis of tau burden in temporal cortex and hippocampus. FTLD-C9ORF72 had significantly more neurofibrillary tangles and higher tau burden compared with FTLD-GRN. The differences were most marked in limbic regions. On the other hand, sFTLD and FTLD-C9ORF72 had a similar burden of tau pathology. These results suggest FTLD-C9ORF72 has increased propensity for tau pathology compared to FTLD-GRN, but not sFTLD. The accumulation of tau as well as lesions immunoreactive for ubiquitin and ubiquitin binding proteins (p62 and ubiquilin-2) suggests that mutations in C9ORF72 may involve disrupted protein degradation that favors accumulation of multiple different proteins.
PMCID: PMC3551994  PMID: 23053135
frontotemporal lobar degeneration; C9ORF72; ubiquitin; p62; ubiquilin-2; tau
9.  Parallel ICA of FDG-PET and PiB-PET in three conditions with underlying Alzheimer's pathology 
NeuroImage : Clinical  2014;4:508-516.
The relationships between clinical phenotype, β-amyloid (Aβ) deposition and neurodegeneration in Alzheimer's disease (AD) are incompletely understood yet have important ramifications for future therapy. The goal of this study was to utilize multimodality positron emission tomography (PET) data from a clinically heterogeneous population of patients with probable AD in order to: (1) identify spatial patterns of Aβ deposition measured by (11C)-labeled Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB-PET) and glucose metabolism measured by FDG-PET that correlate with specific clinical presentation and (2) explore associations between spatial patterns of Aβ deposition and glucose metabolism across the AD population. We included all patients meeting the criteria for probable AD (NIA–AA) who had undergone MRI, PiB and FDG-PET at our center (N = 46, mean age 63.0 ± 7.7, Mini-Mental State Examination 22.0 ± 4.8). Patients were subclassified based on their cognitive profiles into an amnestic/dysexecutive group (AD-memory; n = 27), a language-predominant group (AD-language; n = 10) and a visuospatial-predominant group (AD-visuospatial; n = 9). All patients were required to have evidence of amyloid deposition on PiB-PET. To capture the spatial distribution of Aβ deposition and glucose metabolism, we employed parallel independent component analysis (pICA), a method that enables joint analyses of multimodal imaging data. The relationships between PET components and clinical group were examined using a Receiver Operator Characteristic approach, including age, gender, education and apolipoprotein E ε4 allele carrier status as covariates. Results of the first set of analyses independently examining the relationship between components from each modality and clinical group showed three significant components for FDG: a left inferior frontal and temporoparietal component associated with AD-language (area under the curve [AUC] 0.82, p = 0.011), and two components associated with AD-visuospatial (bilateral occipito-parieto-temporal [AUC 0.85, p = 0.009] and right posterior cingulate cortex [PCC]/precuneus and right lateral parietal [AUC 0.69, p = 0.045]). The AD-memory associated component included predominantly bilateral inferior frontal, cuneus and inferior temporal, and right inferior parietal hypometabolism but did not reach significance (AUC 0.65, p = 0.062). None of the PiB components correlated with clinical group. Joint analysis of PiB and FDG with pICA revealed a correlated component pair, in which increased frontal and decreased PCC/precuneus PiB correlated with decreased FDG in the frontal, occipital and temporal regions (partial r = 0.75, p < 0.0001). Using multivariate data analysis, this study reinforced the notion that clinical phenotype in AD is tightly linked to patterns of glucose hypometabolism but not amyloid deposition. These findings are strikingly similar to those of univariate paradigms and provide additional support in favor of specific involvement of the language network, higher-order visual network, and default mode network in clinical variants of AD. The inverse relationship between Aβ deposition and glucose metabolism in partially overlapping brain regions suggests that Aβ may exert both local and remote effects on brain metabolism. Applying multivariate approaches such as pICA to multimodal imaging data is a promising approach for unraveling the complex relationships between different elements of AD pathophysiology.
•Multivariate approaches may be best suited to study links between biomarkers.•This is the first effort to apply pICA to FDG and PiB data in three groups with AD.•Hypometabolism was focal but amyloid binding was similar across conditions.•Results provide support for involvement of functional networks in variants of AD.•Aβ may exert both local and remote effects on brain metabolism.
PMCID: PMC3984448  PMID: 24818077
Multivariate data analysis; Parallel ICA; Alzheimer's disease; Amyloid imaging; PiB-PET; FDG-PET; Functional connectivity; Networks; AD or AD-memory, Alzheimer's disease; AUC, area under the curve; AD-language or LPA, logopenic variant primary progressive aphasia; PCA or AD-visuospatial, posterior cortical atrophy; PCC, posterior cingulate cortex; PPC, posterior parietal cortex
10.  Reference Cluster Normalization Improves Detection of Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration by Means of FDG-PET 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e55415.
Positron emission tomography with [18F] fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG-PET) plays a well-established role in assisting early detection of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). Here, we examined the impact of intensity normalization to different reference areas on accuracy of FDG-PET to discriminate between patients with mild FTLD and healthy elderly subjects. FDG-PET was conducted at two centers using different acquisition protocols: 41 FTLD patients and 42 controls were studied at center 1, 11 FTLD patients and 13 controls were studied at center 2. All PET images were intensity normalized to the cerebellum, primary sensorimotor cortex (SMC), cerebral global mean (CGM), and a reference cluster with most preserved FDG uptake in the aforementioned patients group of center 1. Metabolic deficits in the patient group at center 1 appeared 1.5, 3.6, and 4.6 times greater in spatial extent, when tracer uptake was normalized to the reference cluster rather than to the cerebellum, SMC, and CGM, respectively. Logistic regression analyses based on normalized values from FTLD-typical regions showed that at center 1, cerebellar, SMC, CGM, and cluster normalizations differentiated patients from controls with accuracies of 86%, 76%, 75% and 90%, respectively. A similar order of effects was found at center 2. Cluster normalization leads to a significant increase of statistical power in detecting early FTLD-associated metabolic deficits. The established FTLD-specific cluster can be used to improve detection of FTLD on a single case basis at independent centers – a decisive step towards early diagnosis and prediction of FTLD syndromes enabling specific therapies in the future.
PMCID: PMC3581522  PMID: 23451025
11.  Combined Imaging Markers Dissociate Alzheimer's Disease and Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration – An ALE Meta-Analysis 
To compare and dissociate the neural correlates of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), we combine and synthesize here recent comprehensive meta-analyses. Systematic and quantitative meta-analyses were conducted according to the QUOROM statement by calculating anatomical likelihood estimates (ALE). AD (n = 578) and the three subtypes of FTLD, frontotemporal dementia, semantic dementia (SD), and progressive non-fluent aphasia (n = 229), were compared in conjunction analyses, separately for atrophy and reductions in glucose metabolism. Atrophy coincided in the amygdala and hippocampal head in AD and the FTLD subtype SD. The other brain regions did not show any overlap between AD and FTLD subtypes for both atrophy and changes in glucose metabolism. For AD alone (n = 826), another conjunction analysis revealed a regional dissociation between atrophy and hypoperfusion/hypometabolism, whereby hypoperfusion and hypometabolism coincided in the angular/supramarginal gyrus and inferior precuneus/posterior cingulate gyrus. Our data together with other imaging studies suggest a specific dissociation of AD and FTLD if, beside atrophy, additional imaging markers in AD such as abnormally low parietal glucose utilization and perfusion are taken into account. Results support the incorporation of standardized imaging inclusion criteria into future diagnostic systems, which is crucial for early individual diagnosis and treatment in the future.
PMCID: PMC3141339  PMID: 21811457
Alzheimer's disease; differential diagnosis; FDG-PET; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; MRI; perfusion
12.  Validation of an optimized SPM procedure for FDG-PET in dementia diagnosis in a clinical setting 
NeuroImage : Clinical  2014;6:445-454.
Diagnostic accuracy in FDG-PET imaging highly depends on the operating procedures. In this clinical study on dementia, we compared the diagnostic accuracy at a single-subject level of a) Clinical Scenarios, b) Standard FDG Images and c) Statistical Parametrical (SPM) Maps generated via a new optimized SPM procedure. We evaluated the added value of FDG-PET, either Standard FDG Images or SPM Maps, to Clinical Scenarios. In 88 patients with neurodegenerative diseases (Alzheimer's Disease—AD, Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration—FTLD, Dementia with Lewy bodies—DLB and Mild Cognitive Impairment—MCI), 9 neuroimaging experts made a forced diagnostic decision on the basis of the evaluation of the three types of information. There was also the possibility of a decision of normality on the FDG-PET images. The clinical diagnosis confirmed at a long-term follow-up was used as the gold standard. SPM Maps showed higher sensitivity and specificity (96% and 84%), and better diagnostic positive (6.8) and negative (0.05) likelihood ratios compared to Clinical Scenarios and Standard FDG Images. SPM Maps increased diagnostic accuracy for differential diagnosis (AD vs. FTD; beta 1.414, p = 0.019). The AUC of the ROC curve was 0.67 for SPM Maps, 0.57 for Clinical Scenarios and 0.50 for Standard FDG Images. In the MCI group, SPM Maps showed the highest predictive prognostic value (mean LOC = 2.46), by identifying either normal brain metabolism (exclusionary role) or hypometabolic patterns typical of different neurodegenerative conditions.
•Brain FDG-PET was evaluated with a new optimized SPM procedure in dementias.•We compared the diagnostic accuracy of clinical information, visual and SPM FDG-PET.•SPM had the best sensitivity (96%), specificity (84%) and positive and negative LR.•In an MCI subgroup, SPM had the highest predictive prognostic value.
PMCID: PMC4225527  PMID: 25389519
FDG-PET imaging; Statistical Parametrical Mapping; Voxel-based analysis; Dementia diagnosis
13.  Functional neuroimaging using F-18 FDG PET/CT in amnestic mild cognitive impairment: A preliminary study 
Background and Objective:
People with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) are at a higher risk of developing Alzheimers Dementia (AD) than their cognitively normal peers. Decreased glucose metabolism with F-18 fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET) is a downstream marker of neuronal injury and neurodegeneration. The risk of developing AD is higher in patients with aMCI who have a pattern of AD related glucose metabolic changes on FDG-PET than those who do not have these changes. We evaluated the utility of visual and ‘statistical parametric mapping (SPM)-supported reading’ of the FDG-PET scans of patients clinically classified as aMCI for identification of predementia patterns and for prediction of their progression to AD (PTAD).
Patients and Methods:
A total of 35 patients diagnosed as aMCI (mini mental state examination (MMSE) score ≥ 25) at the cognitive disorders and memory (CDM) clinic of speciality neurology centers were referred for a resting FDG-PET study. All patients had a detailed neurological, neuropsychological, and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) evaluation prior to referral. Mean age of patients was 67.9 ± 8.7 (standard deviation (SD)) years, male: female (M: F) =26:9. Twenty healthy age-matched controls were included in the study for SPM ( Scans were interpreted visually and using SPM. Each scan was classified as high, intermediate, or low likelihood for PTAD.
On visual analysis, four scans were classified as high likelihood of PTAD and reveled hypometabolism in AD related territories. Seven patients had hypometabolism in at least one AD related territory and were classified as intermediate likelihood for PTAD. Two patients had hypometabolism in other than AD territories, while 22 patients did not show any significant hypometabolism on their FDG-PET scans and were classified as low likelihood for PTAD. SPM analysis of these cases confirmed the areas hypometabolism in all 13 patients compared to a normal subgroup (P < 0.05). On follow-up of 24 months, all four cases with high likelihood scans had progression of cognitive deficits and were confirmed as AD in the CDM clinic while none of the others showed cognitive decline.
Interpretation and Conclusion:
A pattern of AD hypometabolism on the FDG-PET study is useful for predicting PTAD. A longer follow-up of patients with hypometabolism in single AD territories is needed to predict their clinical behavior.
PMCID: PMC3822410  PMID: 24250019
Alzheimers dementia; amnestic mild cognitive impairment; fluorodeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography; positron emission tomography/computed tomography
14.  White matter imaging contributes to the multimodal diagnosis of frontotemporal lobar degeneration 
Neurology  2012;78(22):1761-1768.
To evaluate the distribution of white matter (WM) disease in frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) and Alzheimer disease (AD) and to evaluate the relative usefulness of WM and gray matter (GM) for distinguishing these conditions in vivo.
Patients were classified as having FTLD (n = 50) or AD (n = 42) using autopsy-validated CSF values of total-tau:β-amyloid (t-tau:Aβ1–42) ratios. Patients underwent WM diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) and volumetric MRI of GM. We employed tract-specific analyses of WM fractional anisotropy (FA) and whole-brain GM density analyses. Individual patient classification was performed using receiver operator characteristic (ROC) curves with FA, GM, and a combination of the 2 modalities.
Regional FA and GM were significantly reduced in FTLD and AD relative to healthy seniors. Direct comparisons revealed significantly reduced FA in the corpus callosum in FTLD relative to AD. GM analyses revealed reductions in anterior temporal cortex for FTLD relative to AD, and in posterior cingulate and precuneus for AD relative to FTLD. ROC curves revealed that a multimodal combination of WM and GM provide optimal classification (area under the curve = 0.938), with 87% sensitivity and 83% specificity.
FTLD and AD have significant WM and GM defects. A combination of DTI and volumetric MRI modalities provides a quantitative method for distinguishing FTLD and AD in vivo.
PMCID: PMC3359585  PMID: 22592372
15.  Distinct cerebral perfusion patterns in FTLD and AD 
Neurology  2010;75(10):881-888.
We examined the utility of distinguishing between patients with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) and Alzheimer disease (AD) using quantitative cerebral blood flow (CBF) imaging with arterial spin labeled (ASL) perfusion MRI.
Forty-two patients with FTLD and 18 patients with AD, defined by autopsy or CSF-derived biomarkers for AD, and 23 matched controls were imaged with a continuous ASL method to quantify CBF maps covering the entire brain.
Patients with FTLD and AD showed distinct patterns of hypoperfusion and hyperperfusion. Compared with controls, patients with FTLD showed significant hypoperfusion in regions of the frontal lobe bilaterally, and hyperperfusion in posterior cingulate and medial parietal/precuneus regions. Compared with controls, patients with AD showed significant hypoperfusion in the medial parietal/precuneus and lateral parietal cortex, and hyperperfusion in regions of the frontal lobe. Direct comparison of patient groups showed significant inferior, medial, and dorsolateral frontal hypoperfusion in FTLD, and significant hypoperfusion in bilateral lateral temporal-parietal and medial parietal/precuneus regions in AD.
Doubly dissociated areas of hypoperfusion in FTLD and AD are consistent with areas of significant histopathologic burden in these groups. ASL is a potentially useful biomarker for distinguishing patients with these neurodegenerative diseases.
= β-amyloid1-42;
= Alzheimer disease;
= arterial spin labeling;
= behavioral-variant frontotemporal dementia;
= continuous arterial spin labeling;
= corticobasal syndrome;
= cerebral blood flow;
= dorsal anterior cingulate cortex;
= dorsolateral prefrontal cortex;
= false detection rate;
= frontotemporal lobar degeneration;
= gray matter;
= inferior frontal cortex;
= mild cognitive impairment;
= Montreal Neurological Institute;
= middle temporal cortex;
= orbital frontal cortex;
= parietal cortex;
= principal component analysis;
= posterior cingulate cortex;
= primary progressive aphasia;
= precuneus;
= partial volume effect;
= total tau;
= echo time;
= inversion time;
= repetition time;
= white matter.
PMCID: PMC2938974  PMID: 20819999
16.  Combined Evaluation of FDG-PET and MRI Improves Detection and Differentiation of Dementia 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(3):e18111.
Various biomarkers have been reported in recent literature regarding imaging abnormalities in different types of dementia. These biomarkers have helped to significantly improve early detection and also differentiation of various dementia syndromes. In this study, we systematically applied whole-brain and region-of-interest (ROI) based support vector machine classification separately and on combined information from different imaging modalities to improve the detection and differentiation of different types of dementia.
Patients with clinically diagnosed Alzheimer's disease (AD: n = 21), with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD: n = 14) and control subjects (n = 13) underwent both [F18]fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) scanning and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI), together with clinical and behavioral assessment. FDG-PET and MRI data were commonly processed to get a precise overlap of all regions in both modalities. Support vector machine classification was applied with varying parameters separately for both modalities and to combined information obtained from MR and FDG-PET images. ROIs were extracted from comprehensive systematic and quantitative meta-analyses investigating both disorders.
Using single-modality whole-brain and ROI information FDG-PET provided highest accuracy rates for both, detection and differentiation of AD and FTLD compared to structural information from MRI. The ROI-based multimodal classification, combining FDG-PET and MRI information, was highly superior to the unimodal approach and to the whole-brain pattern classification. With this method, accuracy rate of up to 92% for the differentiation of the three groups and an accuracy of 94% for the differentiation of AD and FTLD patients was obtained.
Accuracy rate obtained using combined information from both imaging modalities is the highest reported up to now for differentiation of both types of dementia. Our results indicate a substantial gain in accuracy using combined FDG-PET and MRI information and suggest the incorporation of such approaches to clinical diagnosis and to differential diagnostic procedures of neurodegenerative disorders.
PMCID: PMC3063183  PMID: 21448435
17.  Early 11C-PIB Frames and 18F-FDG PET Measures Are Comparable; A Study validated in a Cohort of AD and FTLD 
The availability of new PET ligands offers the potential to measure fibrillar β-amyloid in the brain. Nevertheless, physiological information in the form of perfusion or metabolism may still be useful in differentiating causes of dementia during life. In this study we investigated whether early 11C-PIB PET frames (perfusion, pPIB) can provide information equivalent to blood flow and metabolism by assessing the similarity of pPIB and 18F-FDG PET images first in a test cohort with various clinical diagnoses (N=10) and then validating the results on a cohort of Alzheimer’s disease (AD, N=42, age 66.6±10.6, MMSE 22.2±6.0) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD, N=31, age 63.9±7.1, MMSE 23.8±6.7) patients.
To identify the 11C-PIB frames best representing perfusion, an iterative algorithm was run on the test cohort. This included: (1) generating normalized (cerebellar reference) perfusion pPIB images across variable frame ranges, and (2) calculating Pearson’s R values of the sum of these pPIB frames with the sum of all 18F-FDG frames (cerebellar normalized) for all brain tissue voxels. Once this perfusion frame range was determined on the test cohort, it was then validated on an extended cohort and the power of pPIB in differential diagnosis was compared to 18F-FDG by performing a logistic regression of ROI tracer measure (pPIB or 18F-FDG) versus diagnosis.
A seven-minute window, corresponding to minutes 1–8 (frame 5–15) produced the highest voxel-wise correlation between 18F-FDG and pPIB (R=0.78±0.05). This pPIB frame range was further validated on the extended AD and FTLD cohort across 12 ROIs (R=0.91±0.09). A logistic model using pPIB was able to classify 90.5% of the AD and 83.9% of the FTLD patients correctly. Using 18F-FDG, 88.1% of AD and 83.9% of FTLD patients were classified correctly. The temporal pole and the temporal neocortex were significant discriminators (p<0.05) in both models, whereas in the model with pPIB the frontal region was also significant.
The high correlation between pPIB and 18F-FDG measures and their comparable performance in differential diagnosis is promising in providing functional information using 11C-PIB PET data. This could be a useful approach, obviating the need for 18F-FDG scans when longer-lived amyloid imaging agents become available
PMCID: PMC3166243  PMID: 21233181
Pittsburgh compound-B (11C-PIB); perfusion; 18F-Fluorodeoxyglucose (18F-FDG); Aβ-amyloid plaques; cerebral glucose metabolism
Annals of neurology  2008;64(4):388-401.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is found at autopsy in up to one-third of patients with primary progressive aphasia (PPA), but clinical features that predict AD pathology in PPA are not well defined. We studied the relationships between language presentation, Aβ amyloidosis and glucose metabolism in three variants of PPA using [11C]PIB and [18F]FDG-PET.
Patients meeting PPA criteria (N=15) were classified as logopenic aphasia (LPA), progressive non-fluent aphasia (PNFA) or semantic dementia (SD) based on language testing. [11C]PIB distribution volume ratios were calculated using Logan graphical analysis (cerebellar reference). [18F]FDG images were normalized to pons. Partial volume correction was applied.
Elevated cortical PIB (by visual inspection) was more common in LPA (4/4 patients) than in PNFA (1/6) and SD (1/5) (p<0.02). In all PIB-positive cases, PIB uptake was diffuse and indistinguishable from the pattern in matched AD patients (N=10). FDG patterns were focal and varied by PPA subtype, with left temporoparietal hypometabolism in LPA, left frontal hypometabolism in PNFA, and left anterior temporal hypometabolism in SD. FDG patterns in PIB-positive PNFA and SD were similar to PIB-negative cases. Language regions showed asymmetric left hypometabolism in PPA (p<0.005) but not in AD.
LPA is associated with Aβ amyloidosis, suggesting that sub-classification of PPA based on language features can help predict the likelihood of underlying AD pathology. Language phenotype in PPA is closely related to metabolic changes that are focal and anatomically distinct between subtypes, but not to amyloid deposition patterns that are diffuse and similar to AD.
PMCID: PMC2648510  PMID: 18991338
19.  Anterior brain glucose hypometabolism predates dementia in progranulin mutation carriers 
Neurology  2013;81(15):1322-1331.
In this prospective cohort study, we investigated cerebral glucose metabolism reductions on [18F]-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG)-PET in progranulin (GRN) mutation carriers prior to frontotemporal dementia (FTD) onset.
Nine mutation carriers (age 51.5 ± 13.5 years) and 11 noncarriers (age 52.7 ± 9.5 years) from 5 families with FTD due to GRN mutations underwent brain scanning with FDG-PET and MRI and clinical evaluation. Normalized FDG uptake values were calculated with reference to the pons. PET images were analyzed with regions of interest (ROI) and statistical parametric mapping (SPM) approaches.
Compared with noncarriers, GRN mutation carriers had a lowered anterior-to-posterior (AP) ratio of FDG uptake (0.86 ± 0.09 vs 0.92 ± 0.05) and less left-right asymmetry, consistent with an overall pattern of right anterior cerebral hypometabolism. This pattern was observed regardless of whether they were deemed clinically symptomatic no dementia or asymptomatic. Individual ROIs with lowered FDG uptake included right anterior cingulate, insula, and gyrus rectus. SPM analysis supported and extended these findings, demonstrating abnormalities in the right and left medial frontal regions, right insular cortex, right precentral and middle frontal gyri, and right cerebellum. Right AP ratio was correlated with cognitive and clinical scores (modified Mini-Mental State Examination r = 0.74; Functional Rating Scale r = −0.73) but not age and years to estimated onset in mutation carriers.
The frontotemporal lobar degenerative process associated with GRN mutations appears to begin many years prior to the average age at FTD onset (late 50s–early 60s). Right medial and ventral frontal cortex and insula may be affected in this process but the specific regional patterns associated with specific clinical variants remain to be elucidated.
PMCID: PMC3806924  PMID: 24005336
20.  FDG-PET findings in fronto-temporal dementia: A case report and review of literature 
Fronto-temporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is a clinically and pathologically heterogeneous syndrome, characterized by progressive decline in behavior or language associated with degeneration of the frontal and anterior temporal lobes. Three distinct clinical variants of FTLD have been described. Despite the difficulties, accurate diagnosis is critical because the clinical management differs for Alzheimer's disease (AD) and FTLD. Positron emission tomography with fluro-deoxy-glucose (FDG-PET) typically shows sufficient abnormalities that can be used to improve the accuracy of distinguishing AD from FTLD in individual cases. Though temporo-parietal hypometabolism is sensitive in diagnosis of AD, it is less specific. The importance of evaluating the cingulate and anterior temporal cortices for arriving at a diagnosis of FTLD is stressed.
PMCID: PMC3237227  PMID: 22174516
Alzheimer's disease; F-18 FDG; fronto-temporal lobar degeneration; PET/CT
21.  Quantitative proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy detects abnormalities in dorsolateral prefrontal cortex and motor cortex of patients with frontotemporal lobar degeneration 
Journal of neurology  2009;257(1):114-121.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is a neurodegenerative disease of the frontal and temporal neocortex. The single most common pathology underlying FTLD is neuronal degeneration with ubiquitin-positive but tau-negative inclusions consisting of Tar DNA binding proteins (TDP-43). Inclusions containing TDP-43 in neurons are also the most common pathology underlying motor neuron disease (MND). The present study tested the hypothesis that abnormal metabolite patterns within the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex (DLPFC) as well as the motor cortex (MC) may be observed in FTLD patients without motor disorders, using proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (1H MRS). Twenty-six FTLD patients with cognitive damage and ten controls underwent multivoxel 1H MRS. Absolute concentrations of N-acetyl aspartate (NAA), creatine (Cr), choline (Cho) and myo-inositol (mI) were measured from the DLPFC, the MC and the parietal cortex (PC, an internal control). Statistical analyses were performed for group differences between FTLD patients and controls. Comparisons were also made across brain regions (PC and DLPFC; PC and MC) within FTLD patients. Significant reductions in NAA and Cr along with increased Cho and mI were observed in the DLPFC of FTLD patients compared to controls. Significantly lower NAA and higher Cho were also observed in the MCs of patients as compared to controls. Within the FTLD patients, both the MC and the DLPFC exhibited significantly decreased NAA and elevated Cho compared to the PC. However, only the DLPFC had significantly lower Cr and higher mI. Abnormal metabolite pattern from the MC supports the hypothesis that FTLD and MND may be closely linked.
PMCID: PMC2918517  PMID: 19688233
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Motor neuron disease; Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy; Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; Motor cortex
22.  Cognitive and Anatomic Contributions of Metabolic Decline in Alzheimer Disease and Cerebrovascular Disease 
Archives of neurology  2008;65(5):650-655.
Alzheimer disease and cerebrovascular disease affect elderly persons through alterations in brain structure and metabolism that produce cognitive decline. Understanding how each disease contributes to dementia is essential from both a pathophysiologic and diagnostic perspective.
To elucidate how baseline cognitive function (episodic memory and executive function) and brain anatomy (white matter hyperintensities and hippocampal volume) are associated with baseline (positron emission tomography-1 [PET1]) and longitudinal (PET2) glucose metabolism in 38 subjects older than 55 years ranging from normal cognition, cognitive impairment without dementia, and dementia.
Cross-sectional regression analyses across subjects.
Multicenter, university-based study of subcortical vascular dementia.
Main Outcome Measures:
Regional cerebral glucose metabolism was the primary outcome, with the major hypotheses that memory and hippocampal volume are related to temporoparietal hypometabolism while executive function and white matter hyperintensities correlate with frontal lobe hypometabolism.
Low baseline hippocampal volume predicted longitudinal development (PET2) of medial temporal hypometabolism. Lower memory was associated with parietal and cingulate hypometabolism at PET1, which increased at the 2-year-follow-up (PET2). Executive function was associated with frontal and temporoparietal hypometabolism at PET1 but only with frontal hypometabolism at follow-up. White matter hyperintensities predicted hypometabolism over time in the frontoparietal regions, predicting a rate of metabolic change (PET1−PET2/time).
Low baseline episodic memory and hippocampal volume predict the metabolic alterations associated with Alzheimer disease, whereas elevated baseline white matter hyperintensities predict a different pattern of metabolic decline that is plausibly associated with cerebrovascular disease.
PMCID: PMC2556212  PMID: 18474742
23.  Does TDP-43 type confer a distinct pattern of atrophy in frontotemporal lobar degeneration? 
Neurology  2010;75(24):2212-2220.
To determine whether TDP-43 type is associated with distinct patterns of brain atrophy on MRI in subjects with pathologically confirmed frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD).
In this case-control study, we identified all subjects with a pathologic diagnosis of FTLD with TDP-43 immunoreactive inclusions (FTLD-TDP) and at least one volumetric head MRI scan (n = 42). In each case we applied published criteria for subclassification of FTLD-TDP into FTLD-TDP types 1-3. Voxel-based morphometry was used to compare subjects with each of the different FTLD-TDP types to age- and gender-matched normal controls (n = 30). We also assessed different pathologic and genetic variants within, and across, the different types.
Twenty-two subjects were classified as FTLD-TDP type 1, 9 as type 2, and 11 as type 3. We identified different patterns of atrophy across the types with type 1 showing frontotemporal and parietal atrophy, type 2 predominantly anterior temporal lobe atrophy, and type 3 predominantly posterior frontal atrophy. Within the FTLD-TDP type 1 group, those with a progranulin mutation had significantly more lateral temporal lobe atrophy than those without. All type 2 subjects were diagnosed with semantic dementia. Subjects with a pathologic diagnosis of FTLD with motor neuron degeneration had a similar pattern of atrophy, regardless of whether they were type 1 or type 3.
Although there are different patterns of atrophy across the different FTLD-TDP types, it appears that genetic and pathologic factors may also affect the patterns of atrophy.
= Alzheimer disease;
= Alzheimer's Disease Research Center;
= behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia;
= corticobasal syndrome;
= Clinical Dementia Rating scale sum of boxes;
= frontotemporal lobar degeneration;
= frontotemporal lobar degeneration with motor neuron degeneration;
= frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TDP-43 immunoreactive inclusions;
= Mini-Mental State Examination;
= neuronal cytoplasmic inclusion;
= progressive nonfluent aphasia;
= semantic dementia;
= Short Test of Mental Status;
= voxel-based morphometry.
PMCID: PMC3013590  PMID: 21172844
24.  Assessing the Reliability to Detect Cerebral Hypometabolism in Probable Alzheimer's Disease and Amnestic Mild Cognitive Impairment 
Journal of neuroscience methods  2010;192(2):277-285.
Fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography (FDG-PET) studies report characteristic patterns of cerebral hypometabolism in probable Alzheimer's disease (pAD) and amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI). This study aims to characterize the consistency of regional hypometabolism in pAD and aMCI patients enrolled in the AD Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) using statistical parametric mapping (SPM) and bootstrap resampling, and to compare bootstrap based reliability index to the commonly used type-I error approach with or without correction for multiple comparisons. Batched SPM5 was run for each of 1,000 bootstrap iterations to compare FDG-PET images from 74 pAD and 142 aMCI patients, respectively, to 82 normal controls. Maps of the hypometabolic voxels detected for at least a specific percentage of times over the 1000 runs were examined and compared to an overlap of the hypometabolic maps obtained from 3 randomly partitioned independent sub-datasets. The results from the bootstrap derived reliability of regional hypometabolism in the overall data set were similar to that observed in each of the three non-overlapping sub-sets using family-wise error. Strong but non-linear association was found between the bootstrap based reliability index and the type-I error. For threshold p=0.0005, pAD was associated with extensive hypometabolic voxels in the posterior cingulate/precuneus and parietotemporal regions with reliability between 90% and 100%. Bootstrap analysis provides an alternative to the parametric family-wise error approach used to examine consistency of hypometabolic brain voxels in pAD and aMCI patients. These results provide a foundation for the use of bootstrap analysis characterize statistical ROIs or search regions in both cross-sectional and longitudinal FDG PET studies. This approach offers promise in the early detection and tracking of AD, the evaluation of AD-modifying treatments, and other biologically or clinical important measurements using brain images and voxel-based data analysis techniques.
PMCID: PMC2952503  PMID: 20678521
Alzheimer's Disease; MCI; FDG PET; Reproducibility of Results; Reliability; Bootstrap Resampling; Familywise Error; SPM
25.  Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration 
CNS drugs  2010;24(5):375-398.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is a clinically and pathologically heterogeneous syndrome, characterized by progressive decline in behaviour or language associated with degeneration of the frontal and anterior temporal lobes. While the seminal cases were described at the turn of the 20th century, FTLD has only recently been appreciated as a leading cause of dementia, particularly in patients presenting before the age of 65 years. Three distinct clinical variants of FTLD have been described: (i) behavioural-variant frontotemporal dementia, characterized by changes in behaviour and personality in association with frontal-predominant cortical degeneration; (ii) semantic dementia, a syndrome of progressive loss of knowledge about words and objects associated with anterior temporal neuronal loss; and (iii) progressive nonfluent aphasia, characterized by effortful language output, loss of grammar and motor speech deficits in the setting of left perisylvian cortical atrophy.
The majority of pathologies associated with FTLD clinical syndromes include either tau-positive (FTLD-TAU) or TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43)-positive (FTLD-TDP) inclusion bodies. FTLD overlaps clinically and pathologically with the atypical parkinsonian disorders corticobasal degeneration and progressive supranuclear palsy, and with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The majority of familial FTLD cases are caused by mutations in the genes encoding microtubule-associated protein tau (leading to FTLD-TAU) or progranulin (leading to FTLD-TDP). The clinical and pathologic heterogeneity of FTLD poses a significant diagnostic challenge, and in vivo prediction of underlying histopathology can be significantly improved by supplementing the clinical evaluation with genetic tests and emerging biological markers. Current pharmacotherapy for FTLD focuses on manipulating serotonergic or dopaminergic neurotransmitter systems to ameliorate behavioural or motor symptoms. However, recent advances in FTLD genetics and molecular pathology make the prospect of biologically driven, disease-specific therapies for FTLD seem closer than ever.
PMCID: PMC2916644  PMID: 20369906

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