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.
Alzheimer’s disease; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; autopsy; magnetic resonance imaging; voxel-based morphometry
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.
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.
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.
Alzheimer's disease; F-18 FDG; fronto-temporal lobar degeneration; PET/CT
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.
= 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;
= partial volume effect;
= total tau;
= echo time;
= inversion time;
= repetition time;
= white matter.
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.
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.
Impairments of face processing occur frequently in frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) but the neuroanatomical basis for these deficits has seldom been studied systematically. Here a prospective voxel based morphometry study is described addressing the neuroanatomy of two key dimensions of face processing—face identification and facial emotion recognition—in a single cohort of 32 patients with FTLD (19 with frontal variant and 13 with temporal variant FTLD). For the FTLD group as a whole, face identification was positively associated with grey matter in the right anterior fusiform gyrus while recognition of angry expressions was positively associated with grey matter in the bilateral insula cortex. FTLD provides a perspective on the neuroanatomy of face processing that is complementary to focal lesion and normal functional imaging work.
Ffaces; emotion; voxel-based morphometry; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; dementia; cognitive neuropsychology; dementia; image analysis; MRI; neuroanatomy
We applied optimized voxel-based morphometry (VBM) to brain MRIs from autopsy-proven cases of tau-positive frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD-T, N = 6), ubiquitin and TDP-43-positive/tau-negative FTLD (FTLD-U, N = 8) and cognitively normal controls (N = 61). The analysis revealed that FTLD-T and FTLD-U both show atrophy in the frontal cortex and striatum, but striatal atrophy is more severe in FTLD-T. Manual region-of-interest (ROI) tracing of caudate and putamen volumes confirmed the VBM findings. These anatomic differences may help distinguish between FTLD spectrum pathologic subtypes in vivo.
Tau-positive frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Ubiquitin and TDP-43-positive/tau-negative frontotemproal lobar degeneration; Voxel-based morphometry; Region-of-interest; Basal ganglia
We applied optimised voxel based morphometry (VBM) to brain MRIs from autopsy proven cases of tau positive frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD‐T, n = 6), ubiquitin and TDP‐43 positive/tau negative FTLD (FTLD‐U, n = 8) and cognitively normal controls (n = 61). The analysis revealed that FTLD‐T and FTLD‐U both show atrophy in the frontal cortex and striatum, but striatal atrophy is more severe in FTLD‐T. Manual region of interest tracing of caudate and putamen volumes confirmed the VBM findings. These anatomical differences may help distinguish between FTLD spectrum pathological subtypes in vivo.
To identify antemortem CSF diagnostic biomarkers that can potentially distinguish between the 2 main causes of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), i.e., FTLD with TDP-43 pathology (FTLD-TDP) and FTLD with tau pathology (FTLD-tau).
CSF samples were collected antemortem from 23 patients with FTLD with known pathology to form a autopsy cohort as part of a comparative biomarker study that additionally included 33 living cognitively normal subjects and 66 patients with autopsy-confirmed Alzheimer disease (AD). CSF samples were also collected from 80 living patients clinically diagnosed with frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Levels of 151 novel analytes were measured via a targeted multiplex panel enriched in neuropeptides, cytokines, and growth factors, along with levels of CSF biomarkers for AD.
CSF levels of multiple analytes differed between FTLD-TDP and FTLD-tau, including Fas, neuropeptides (agouti-related peptide and adrenocorticotropic hormone), and chemokines (IL-23, IL-17). Classification by random forest analysis achieved high sensitivity for FTLD-TDP (86%) with modest specificity (78%) in the autopsy cohort. When the classification algorithm was applied to a living FTD cohort, semantic dementia was the phenotype with the highest predicted proportion of FTLD-TDP. When living patients with behavioral variant FTD were examined in detail, those predicted to have FTLD-TDP demonstrated neuropsychological differences vs those predicted to have FTLD-tau in a pattern consistent with previously reported trends in autopsy-confirmed cases.
Clinical cases with FTLD-TDP and FTLD-tau pathology can be potentially identified antemortem by assaying levels of specific analytes that are well-known and readily measurable in CSF.
= Alzheimer disease;
= Aguti-related protein;
= adrenocorticotropic hormone;
= amyotrophic lateral sclerosis;
= apolipoprotein B;
= behavioral variant FTD;
= corticobasal syndrome;
= frontotemporal dementia;
= frontotemporal lobar degeneration;
= frontotemporal lobar degeneration with tau pathology;
= frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TDP-43 pathology;
= macrophage-derived chemokine;
= progressive nonfluent aphasia;
= primary progressive aphasia;
= progressive supranuclear palsy;
= S100 calcium binding protein b;
= semantic dementia;
= tumor necrosis factor-related apoptosis-inducing ligand receptor 3.
Background and Purpose
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) can be subdivided into those in which the abnormal protein is tau (FTLD-TAU), the TAR DNA binding protein 43 (FTLD-TDP) and the fused in sarcoma protein (FTLD-FUS). We have observed severe caudate atrophy at autopsy in FTLD-FUS, and hence we aimed to determine whether caudate atrophy on MRI is a feature that can distinguish FTLD-FUS from FTLD-TDP and FTLD-TAU.
From a cohort of 207 cases of FTLD we identified all cases of FTLD-FUS that had a volumetric antemortem head MRI (n=3). Caudate and frontal lobe volumes were measured in all three cases using atlas based parcellation and SPM5, and were compared to 10 randomly selected cases of FTLD-TDP and 10 randomly selected cases of FTLD-TAU. Total grey matter volumes were also calculated for all cases.
The FTLD-FUS cases had significantly smaller caudate volumes (p=0.02) yet similar frontal lobe grey matter volumes (p=0.12) compared to FTLD-TDP and FTLD-TAU. Caudate volumes when corrected for total grey matter volume (p=0.01) or frontal lobe grey matter volume (p=0.01) were significantly smaller in FTLD-FUS than FTLD-TDP and FTLD-TAU, and showed no overlap with the other two groups.
Caudate atrophy on MRI appears to be significantly greater in FTLD-FUS compared with FTLD-TDP and FTLD-TAU suggesting that severe caudate atrophy may be a useful clinical feature to predict FTLD-FUS pathology.
TDP-43; FTLD-TAU; FTLD-FUS; atlas based parcellation; caudate atrophy
Despite growing clinical and neurobiological interest in the brain mechanisms that process emotion in music, these mechanisms remain incompletely understood. Patients with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) frequently exhibit clinical syndromes that illustrate the effects of breakdown in emotional and social functioning. Here we investigated the neuroanatomical substrate for recognition of musical emotion in a cohort of 26 patients with FTLD (16 with behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia, bvFTD, 10 with semantic dementia, SemD) using voxel-based morphometry. On neuropsychological evaluation, patients with FTLD showed deficient recognition of canonical emotions (happiness, sadness, anger and fear) from music as well as faces and voices compared with healthy control subjects. Impaired recognition of emotions from music was specifically associated with grey matter loss in a distributed cerebral network including insula, orbitofrontal cortex, anterior cingulate and medial prefrontal cortex, anterior temporal and more posterior temporal and parietal cortices, amygdala and the subcortical mesolimbic system. This network constitutes an essential brain substrate for recognition of musical emotion that overlaps with brain regions previously implicated in coding emotional value, behavioural context, conceptual knowledge and theory of mind. Musical emotion recognition may probe the interface of these processes, delineating a profile of brain damage that is essential for the abstraction of complex social emotions.
► Emotion recognition from music is impaired in frontotemporal lobar degeneration. ► This deficit is associated with atrophy in a distributed cerebral network. ► This network includes cortical and mesolimbic areas likely to code social emotions.
Music; Emotion; Dementia; Frontotemporal; FTLD; VBM
To assess the relative frequency of unique mutations and their associated characteristics in 97 individuals with mutations in progranulin (GRN), an important cause of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD).
Participants and Design
A 46-site International Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration Collaboration was formed to collect cases of FTLD with TAR DNA-binding protein of 43-kDa (TDP-43)–positive inclusions (FTLD-TDP). We identified 97 individuals with FTLD-TDP with pathogenic GRN mutations (GRN+ FTLD-TDP), assessed their genetic and clinical characteristics, and compared them with 453 patients with FTLD-TDP in which GRN mutations were excluded (GRN− FTLD-TDP). No patients were known to be related. Neuropathologic characteristics were confirmed as FTLD-TDP in 79 of the 97 GRN+ FTLDTDP cases and all of the GRN− FTLD-TDP cases.
Age at onset of FTLD was younger in patients with GRN+ FTLD-TDP vs GRN− FTLD-TDP (median, 58.0 vs 61.0 years; P<.001), as was age at death (median, 65.5 vs 69.0 years; P<.001). Concomitant motor neuron disease was much less common in GRN+ FTLDTDP vs GRN− FTLD-TDP (5.4% vs 26.3%; P<.001). Fifty different GRN mutations were observed, including 2 novel mutations: c.139delG (p.D47TfsX7) and c.378C>A (p.C126X). The 2 most common GRN mutations were c.1477C>T (p.R493X, found in 18 patients, representing 18.6% of GRN cases) and c.26C>A (p.A9D, found in 6 patients, representing 6.2% of cases). Patients with the c.1477C>T mutation shared a haplotype on chromosome 17; clinically, they resembled patients with other GRN mutations. Patients with the c.26C>A mutation appeared to have a younger age at onset of FTLD and at death and more parkinsonian features than those with other GRN mutations.
GRN+ FTLD-TDP differs in key features from GRN− FTLD-TDP.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is a highly heterogenous group of progressive neurodegenerative disorders characterized by atrophy of prefrontal and anterior temporal cortices. Recently, the research in the field of FTLD has gained increased attention due to the clinical, neuropathological, and genetic heterogeneity and has increased our understanding of the disease pathogenesis. FTLD is a genetically complex disorder. It has a strong genetic basis and 50% of patients show a positive family history for FTLD. Linkage studies have revealed seven chromosomal loci and a number of genes including MAPT, PGRN, VCP, and CHMB-2B are associated with the disease. Neuropathologically, FTLD is classified into tauopathies and ubiquitinopathies. The vast majority of FTLD cases are characterized by pathological accumulation of tau or TDP-43 positive inclusions, each as an outcome of mutations in MAPT or PGRN, respectively. Identification of novel proteins involved in the pathophysiology of the disease, such as progranulin and TDP-43, may prove to be excellent biomarkers of disease progression and thereby lead to the development of better therapeutic options through pharmacogenomics. However, much more dissections into the causative pathways are needed to get a full picture of the etiology. Over the past decade, advances in research on the genetics of FTLD have revealed many pathogenic mutations leading to different clinical manifestations of the disease. This review discusses the current concepts and recent advances in our understanding of the genetics of FTLD.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; genetic risk factors; microtubule-associated protein tau; mutations; progranulin; TDP-43
TDP-43 is a major component of the inclusions in frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitinated inclusions (FTLD-U). We studied TDP-43-pathology in the hippocampus and frontal cortex of autopsy brains with FTLD-U (n=68), dementia lacking distinctive histopathology (n=4), other neurodegenerative diseases (n=23), and controls (n=12). A marked enhancement of TDP-43-positive dystrophic neurites (DN) was obtained by using a sensitive immunohistochemistry protocol. Two previously unrecognized patterns of pathology were observed: frequent long DN in the CA1 region and frequent dot-like DN in the neocortical layer II, which were seen in 39% and 15% of the FTLD-U cases, respectively. Four FTLD-U cases showed no TDP-43 pathology and were reclassified as FTLD-U, non-TDP-43 proteinopathy. Frequent long DN, but not dot-like DN, were significantly associated with progranulin mutations. Three of the DLDH cases were reclassified as FTLD-U. Of the cases with other neurodegenerative diseases, 43% showed TDP-43-pathology in the hippocampus but only 4% in the frontal cortex. No TDP-43-pathology was seen in controls. These results indicate that the sensitivity of the TDP-43 immunohistochemistry method affects both the quantity of the pathology and the types of pathology that can be detected. Involvement of both the hippocampus and frontal cortex may be a diagnostically important feature in FTLD-U.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitinated inclusions; frontotemporal lobar degeneration with motor neuron disease; dementia lacking distinctive histopathology; progranulin; TAR DNA-binding protein 43; dystrophic neurites; autopsy; immunohistochemistry
Autopsy evaluation of the brain of a patient with frontotemporal dementia (FTD) can be daunting to the general pathologist. At some point in their training, most pathologists learn about Pick disease, and can recognize Pick bodies, the morphologic hallmark of Pick disease. Pick disease is a type of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), the general category of pathologic process underlying most cases of FTD. The 2 major categories of pathologic FTLD are tauopathies (FTLD-tau) and ubiquitinopathies (FTLD-U). Pick disease is one of the FTLD-tau subtypes and is termed FTLD-tau (PiD).
To “demystify” FTLDs, and to demonstrate that subtypes of FTLD-tau and FTLD-U can be easily determined by following a logical, stepwise, histochemical, and immunohistochemical investigation of the FTD autopsy brain.
Previously published peer-reviewed articles.
The hope is that this article will be a useful reference for the general pathologist faced with performing a brain autopsy on a decedent with frontotemporal dementia.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder that can be triggered through genetic or sporadic mechanisms. MicroRNAs (miRNAs) have become a major therapeutic focus as their pervasive expression and powerful regulatory roles in disease pathogenesis become increasingly apparent. Here we examine the role of miRNAs in FTLD patients with TAR DNA-binding protein 43 pathology (FTLD-TDP) caused by genetic mutations in the progranulin (PGRN) gene.
Using miRNA array profiling, we identified the 20 miRNAs that showed greatest evidence (unadjusted P < 0.05) of dysregulation in frontal cortex of eight FTLD-TDP patients carrying PGRN mutations when compared to 32 FTLD-TDP patients with no apparent genetic abnormalities. Quantitative real-time PCR (qRT-PCR) analyses provided technical validation of the differential expression for 9 of the 20 miRNAs in frontal cortex. Additional qRT-PCR analyses showed that 5 out of 9 miRNAs (miR-922, miR-516a-3p, miR-571, miR-548b-5p, and miR-548c-5p) were also significantly dysregulated (unadjusted P < 0.05) in cerebellar tissue samples of PGRN mutation carriers, consistent with a systemic reduction in PGRN levels. We developed a list of gene targets for the 5 candidate miRNAs and found 18 genes dysregulated in a reported FTLD mRNA study to exhibit anti-correlated miRNA-mRNA patterns in affected cortex and cerebellar tissue. Among the targets is brain-specific angiogenesis inhibitor 3, which was recently identified as an important player in synapse biology.
Our study suggests that miRNAs may contribute to the pathogenesis of FTLD-TDP caused by PGRN mutations and provides new insight into potential future therapeutic options.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; TDP-43; microRNA; progranulin
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is characterized by impairments in social, behavioral, and/or language function, but postmortem studies indicate that multiple neuropathological entities lead to FTLD. This study assessed whether specific clinical features predict the underlying pathology.
A clinicopathological correlation was performed on 90 consecutive patients with a pathological diagnosis of frontotemporal dementia and was compared with an additional 24 cases accrued during the same time period with a clinical diagnosis of FTLD, but with pathology not typically associated with frontotemporal dementia.
Postmortem examination showed multiple pathologies including tauopathies (46%), FTLD with ubiquitin-positive inclusions (29%), and Alzheimer’s disease (17%). The pathological groups manifested some distinct demographic, clinical, and neuropsychological features, although these attributes showed only a statistical association with the underlying pathology. FTLD with ubiquitin-positive inclusions was more likely to present with both social and language dysfunction, and motor neuron disease was more likely to emerge in these patients. Tauopathies were more commonly associated with an extrapyramidal disorder. Alzheimer’s disease was associated with relatively greater deficits in memory and executive function.
Clinical and neuropsychological features contribute to delineating the spectrum of pathology underlying a patient diagnosed with FTLD, but biomarkers are needed that, together with the clinical phenotype, can predict the underlying neuropathology.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TDP- 43 inclusions (FTLD-TDP) is characterized by progressive decline in behavior, executive function, and language. Progranulin (GRN) gene mutations are pathogenic for FTLD-TDP, and GRN transcript haploinsufficiency is the proposed disease mechanism. However, the evidence for this hypothesis comes mainly from blood-derived cells; we measured progranulin expression in brain. We characterized mRNA and protein levels of progranulin from four brain regions (frontal cortex, temporal cortex, occipital cortex, and cerebellum) in FTLD-TDP patients with and without GRN mutations, as well as neurologically normal individuals. Moreover, we performed immunohistochemistry to evaluate the degree of TDP-43 pathology and microglial infiltration present in these groups. In most brain regions, patients with GRN mutations showed mRNA levels comparable to normal controls and to FTLD-TDP without GRN mutations. However, GRN transcript levels in a brain region severely affected by disease (frontal cortex) were increased in mutation-bearing patients. When compared with normal individuals, GRN mutation-bearing cases had a significant reduction in the amount of progranulin protein in the cerebellum and occipital cortex, but not in the frontal and temporal cortices. In GRN mutant cases, GRN mRNA originated from the normal allele, and moderate microglial infiltration was observed. In conclusion, GRN mutation carriers have increased levels of mRNA transcript from the normal allele in brain, and proliferation of microglia likely increases progranulin levels in affected regions of the FTLD-TDP brain, and whether or not these findings underlie the accumulation of TDP-43 pathology in FTLD-TDP linked to GRN mutations remains to be determined.
Progranulin; TDP-43; Frontotemporal dementia; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Microglia
The natural history of patients with pathologically proven frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is important from clinical and biologic perspectives, but is not well documented quantitatively.
We examine longitudinal decline in cognitive functioning in an autopsy-proven cohort of patients with the clinical diagnosis of a FTLD spectrum disorder or FTLD pathology using a panel of neuropsychological measures. Patients are categorized according to findings at autopsy into tau-positive FTLD, tau-negative FTLD, and frontal variant-Alzheimer disease (fvAD) subgroups.
Patients decline significantly over time on all neuropsychological measures. Moreover, several measures differentiate between histopathologically distinct subgroups throughout the course of the disease process. This includes a significant double dissociation involving relative difficulty on a visual constructional measure in tau-positive patients compared to relatively impaired visual confrontation naming in tau-negative patients. Longitudinal measures of FAS naming fluency and animal naming fluency also distinguish tau-positive patients and tau-negative patients with FTLD from patients with fvAD. Other measures show significant decline but do not distinguish between histopathologic groups longitudinally.
Our findings suggest different longitudinal patterns of cognitive decline in pathologically defined subgroups of patients. Measures consistently distinguishing between patient subgroups can be used to bolster diagnostic accuracy throughout the course of these diseases, while measures demonstrating undifferentiated longitudinal decline may serve as useful endpoints in treatment trials.
The clinical diagnosis of dementing diseases largely depends upon the subjective interpretation of patient symptoms. Consensus panels are frequently used in research to determine diagnoses when definitive pathological findings are unavailable. Nevertheless, research on group decision-making indicates many factors can adversely influence panel performance.
To determine conditions that improve consensus panel diagnosis.
Comparison of neuropathological diagnoses with individual and consensus panel diagnoses based on clinical summaries, FDG-PET scans, and summaries with scans.
Expert and trainee individual and consensus panel deliberations using a modified Delphi method in a pilot research study of the diagnostic utility of FDG-PET imaging.
Patients and Methods
Forty-five patients with pathologically confirmed Alzheimer’s disease or frontotemporal dementia. Statistical measures of diagnostic accuracy, agreement, and confidence for individual raters and panelists before and after consensus deliberations.
The consensus protocol using trainees and experts surpassed the accuracy of individual expert diagnoses when clinical information elicited diverse judgments. In these situations, consensus was 3.5 times more likely to produce positive rather than negative changes in the accuracy and diagnostic certainty of individual panelists. A rule that forced group consensus was at least as accurate as majority and unanimity rules.
Using a modified Delphi protocol to arrive at a consensus diagnosis is a reasonable substitute for pathologic information. This protocol improves diagnostic accuracy and certainty when panelist judgments differ and is easily adapted to other research and clinical settings while avoiding potential pitfalls of group decision-making.
Primary progressive aphasia (PPA) results from an asymmetric degeneration of the language dominant (usually left) hemisphere and can be associated with the pathology of Alzheimer disease (AD) or frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). This study aimed to investigate whether the anatomic distribution of TDP-43 inclusions displayed a corresponding leftward asymmetry in a patient with PPA with a mutation in the progranulin gene and FTLD pathology.
Brain tissue from a 65-year-old patient with PPA and progranulin mutation was analyzed using immunohistochemical methods for TDP-43. Analysis was performed in the superior temporal gyrus, inferior temporal gyrus, inferior parietal lobule, orbitofrontal cortex, entorhinal cortex, and dentate gyrus. Neuronal intranuclear inclusions, neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions, and dystrophic neurites were quantified using modified stereologic analysis. Analysis of variance was used to determine significant effects.
All 3 types of inclusions predominated on the left side of analyzed cortical regions. They were also more frequent in language areas than in memory-related areas.
These results demonstrate a phenotypically concordant distribution of abnormal TDP-43 inclusions in primary progressive aphasia (PPA). This contrasts with PPA cases with Alzheimer pathology where no consistent leftward asymmetry of neurofibrillary degeneration or amyloid deposition has been demonstrated despite the leftward asymmetry of the atrophy, and where neurofibrillary tangles show a greater density in memory than language areas despite the predominantly aphasic phenotype. This case suggests that the TDP-43 inclusions in PPA–frontotemporal lobar degeneration are more tightly linked to neuronal death and dysfunction than neurofibrillary and amyloid deposits in PPA–Alzheimer disease.
= Alzheimer disease;
= anterior part of inferior parietal lobule;
= dentate gyrus;
= dystrophic neurite;
= entorhinal cortex;
= frontotemporal lobar degeneration;
= inferior temporal gyrus;
= neuronal cytoplasmic inclusion;
= neuronal intranuclear inclusion;
= orbitofrontal cortex;
= posterior part of inferior parietal lobule;
= primary progressive aphasia;
= superior temporal gyrus.
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.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Motor neuron disease; Proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy; Dorsolateral prefrontal cortex; Motor cortex
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is a clinically, genetically and pathologically heterogeneous disorder. Within FTLD with ubiquitin-positive inclusions (FTLD-U), a new pathological subtype named FTLD-FUS was recently found with fused in sarcoma (FUS) positive, TDP-43-negative inclusions, and striking atrophy of the caudate nucleus. The aim of this study was to determine the frequency of FTLD-FUS in our pathological FTLD series, and to describe the clinical, neuroimaging and neuropathological features of FTLD-FUS, especially caudate atrophy. Demographic and clinical data collected prospectively from 387 patients with frontotemporal dementia (FTD) yielded 74 brain specimens. Immunostaining was carried out using a panel of antibodies, including AT-8, ubiquitin, p62, FUS, and TDP-43. Cortical and caudate atrophy on MRI (n = 136) was rated as normal, mild-moderate or severe. Of the 37 FTLD-U cases, 33 were reclassified as FTLD-TDP and four (0.11, 95%: 0.00–0.21) as FTLD-FUS, with ubiquitin and FUS-positive, p62 and TDP-43-negative neuronal intranuclear inclusions (NII). All four FTLD-FUS cases had a negative family history, behavioural variant FTD (bvFTD), and three had an age at onset ≤40 years. MRI revealed mild-moderate or severe caudate atrophy in all, with a mean duration from onset till MRI of 63 months (range 16–119 months). In our total clinical FTD cohort, we found 11 patients (0.03; 95% CI: 0.01–0.05) with bvFTD, negative family history, and age at onset ≤40 years. Caudate atrophy was present in 10 out of 136 MRIs, and included all four FUS-cases. The newly identified FTLD-FUS has a frequency of 11% in FTLD-U, and an estimated frequency of three percent in our clinical FTD cohort. The existence of this pathological subtype can be predicted with reasonable certainty by age at onset ≤40 years, negative family history, bvFTD and caudate atrophy on MRI.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD); Ubiquitin; p62; TDP-43; FUS