TDP-43 is a major component of the ubiquitinated inclusions that characterise amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) with ubiquitin inclusions (FTLD-U). TDP-43 is an RNA-binding and DNA-binding protein that has many functions and is encoded by the TAR DNA-binding protein gene (TARDBP) on chromosome 1. Our aim was to investigate whether TARDBP is a candidate disease gene for familial ALS that is not associated with mutations in superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1).
TARDBP was sequenced in 259 patients with ALS, FTLD, or both. We used TaqMan-based SNP genotyping to screen for the identifi ed variants in control groups matched to two kindreds of patients for age and ethnic origin. Additional clinical, genetic, and pathological assessments were made in these two families.
We identified two variants, p.Gly290Ala and p.Gly298Ser, in TARDBP in two familial ALS kindreds and we observed TDP-43 neuropathology in the CNS tissue available from one family. The variants are considered pathogenic mutations because they co-segregate with disease in both families, are absent in ethnically-matched controls, and are associated with TDP-43 neuropathology in several family members.
The p.Gly290Ala and p.Gly298Ser mutations are located in the glycine-rich domain that regulates gene expression and mediates protein-protein interactions; in particular TDP-43 binds to heterogeneous ribonucleoproteins (hnRNPs) via this domain. We postulate that due to the varied and important cellular functions of TDP-43, these mutations may cause neurodegeneration through both gains and losses of function. The finding of TARDBP mutations implicates TDP-43 as an active mediator of neurodegeneration in a novel class of disorders, TDP-43 proteinopathies, a class of disorder that includes ALS and FTLD-U.
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is a common neurodegenerative disorder of late life with a complex genetic basis. Although several genes are known to play a role in rare early-onset AD, only the APOE gene is known to have a high contribution to risk of the common late-onset form of the disease (LOAD, onset > 60 years). APOE genotypes vary in their AD risk as well as age-at-onset distributions, and it is likely that other loci will similarly affect AD age-at-onset. Here we present the first analysis of age-at-onset in the NIMH LOAD sample that allows for both a multilocus trait model and genetic heterogeneity among the contributing sites, while at the same time accommodating age censoring, effects of known genetic covariates, and full pedigree and marker information. The results provide evidence for genomic regions not previously implicated in this data set, including regions on chromosomes 7q, 15, and 19p. They also affirm evidence for loci on chromosomes 1q, 6p, 9q, 11, and, of course, the APOE locus on 19q, all of which have been reported previously in the same sample. The analyses failed to find evidence for linkage to chromosome 10 with inclusion of unaffected subjects and extended pedigrees. Several regions implicated in these analyses in the NIMH sample have been previously reported in genome scans of other AD samples. These results, therefore, provide independent confirmation of AD loci in family-based samples on chromosomes 1q, 7q, 19p, and suggest that further efforts towards identifying the underlying causal loci are warranted.
MCMC; oligogenic; Bayesian; dementia; linkage analysis
Alzheimer disease (AD) associated (gamma)-secretase components presenilin-1 and -2 accumulate in MAM, an LR-like ER subcompartment connected to mitochondria. MAM function increases in patients with familial or sporadic AD and may be linked to AD pathogenesis.
Alzheimer disease (AD) is associated with aberrant processing of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) by γ-secretase, via an unknown mechanism. We recently showed that presenilin-1 and -2, the catalytic components of γ-secretase, and γ-secretase activity itself, are highly enriched in a subcompartment of the endoplasmic reticulum (ER) that is physically and biochemically connected to mitochondria, called mitochondria-associated ER membranes (MAMs). We now show that MAM function and ER–mitochondrial communication—as measured by cholesteryl ester and phospholipid synthesis, respectively—are increased significantly in presenilin-mutant cells and in fibroblasts from patients with both the familial and sporadic forms of AD. We also show that MAM is an intracellular detergent-resistant lipid raft (LR)-like domain, consistent with the known presence of presenilins and γ-secretase activity in rafts. These findings may help explain not only the aberrant APP processing but also a number of other biochemical features of AD, including altered lipid metabolism and calcium homeostasis. We propose that upregulated MAM function at the ER–mitochondrial interface, and increased cross-talk between these two organelles, may play a hitherto unrecognized role in the pathogenesis of AD.
APP; cholesterol; MAM; phospholipids; presenilin
To describe the Alzheimer disease (AD)-like clinical and pathological features, including marked neurofibrillary tangle (NFT) pathology, of a familial prion disease due to a rare nonsense mutation of the prion gene (PRNP).
Longitudinal clinical assessments were available for the proband and her mother. After death, both underwent neuropathological evaluation. PRNP was sequenced after failure to find immunopositive Aβ deposits in the proband and the documentation of prion protein (PrP) immunopositive pathology.
The proband presented at age 42 years with a 3-year history of progressive short-term memory impairment and depression. Neuropsychological testing found impaired memory performance, with relatively preserved attention and construction. She was diagnosed with AD and died at age 47 years. Neuropathologic evaluation revealed extensive limbic and neocortical NFT formation and neuritic plaques consistent with a Braak stage of VI. The NFTs were immunopositive, with multiple tau antibodies, and electron microscopy revealed paired helical filaments. However, the neuritic plaques were immunonegative for Aβ, whereas immunostaining for PrP was positive. The mother of the proband had a similar presentation, including depression, and had been diagnosed clinically and pathologically as AD. Reevaluation of her brain tissue confirmed similar tau and PrP immunostaining findings. Genetic analysis revealed that both the proband and her mother had a rare PRNP mutation (Q160X) that resulted in the production of truncated PrP.
We suggest that PRNP mutations that result in a truncation of PrP lead to a prolonged clinical course consistent with a clinical diagnosis of AD and severe AD-like NFTs.
Neuropathological examination of both individuals in a monozygotic (MZ) twin pair with Alzheimer's disease (AD) is rare, especially in the molecular genetic era. We had the opportunity to assess the concordance and discordance of clinical presentation and neuropathology in three MZ twin pairs with AD.
The MZ twins were identified and characterised by the University of Washington Alzheimer's Disease Research Center. We reviewed the available clinical and neuropathological records for all six cases looking specifically for concordance and discordance of clinical phenotype, neuritic amyloid plaques (NP), neurofibrillary tangles (NFT) and Lewy related pathology (LRP).
Discordance in age of onset for developing AD in the MZ twins varied from 4 to 18 years. Clinical presentations also differed between twins. One twin presented with a dementia with Lewy Body clinical syndrome while the other presented with typical clinical AD. Neuropathology within the MZ twin pairs was concordant for NP and NFT, regardless of duration of disease, and was discordant for LRP. This difference was most marked in the late onset AD twin pair. One pair was found to have a mutation in presenilin‐1 (PS1) (A79V) with remarkably late onset in a family member.
MZ twins with AD can vary considerably in age of onset, presentation and disease duration. The concordance of NP and NFT pathological change and the discordance of LRP support the concept that, in AD, the former are primarily under genetic control whereas the latter (LRP) is more influenced by disease duration and environmental factors. The A79V mutation in PS1 can be associated with very late onset of dementia.
The study aim was to estimate the genetic contribution to individual differences in different forms of memory in a large family-based group of older adults. As part of the Late Onset Alzheimer’s Disease Family Study, 899 persons (277 with Alzheimer’s disease, 622 unaffected) from 325 families completed a battery of memory tests from which previously established composite measures of episodic memory, semantic memory, and working memory were derived. Heritability in these measures was estimated using the maximum likelihood variance component method, controlling for age, sex, and education. In analyses of unaffected family members, the adjusted heritability estimates were 0.62 for episodic memory, 0.49 for semantic memory, and 0.72 for working memory, where a heritability estimate of 1 indicates that genetic factors explain all of the phenotypic variance and a heritability of 0 indicates that genetic factors explain none. Adjustment for APOE genotype had little effect on these estimates. When analyses included affected and unaffected family members, adjusted heritability estimates were lower (0.47 for episodic memory, 0.32 for semantic memory, 0.42 for working memory). Adjusting for APOE slightly reduced the estimate for episodic memory (0.40) but had no effect on the remaining estimates. The results indicate that memory functions are under strong genetic influence in older persons with and without AD, only partly attributable to APOE. This suggests that genetic analyses of memory endophenotypes may help to identify genetic variants associated with AD.
Alzheimer’s disease; memory; heritability; apolipoprotein E
Primary genetic diseases are generally associated with pediatric and young adult populations. There is little information about the occurrence of single gene Mendelian diseases in the elderly.
To describe the occurrence of single gene neurogenetic disorders in a group of elderly patients.
Academic University and VA Medical Centers.
Eight elderly patients are described with single gene neurogenetic diseases. They include two 87 and 85 year old men with Huntington’s disease, an 84 year old woman with Limb Girdle Muscular Dystrophy Type 2A, a 78 year old man with SCA14, an 86 year old man with SCA5, an 85 man with a presenilin 1 familial Alzheimer’s disease mutation, an 87 year old man with autosomal dominant hereditary neuropathy and a 78 year old man with SCA6. Three cases had no family history of neurological disease.
Single gene Mendelian neurogenetic diseases can be found in the oldest old. Such cases are presently under recognized and will become more commonly observed in the future. This phenomenon is a result of: 1: The aging of the general population, 2: Better recognition of the highly variable ages of onset of genetic diseases and 3: The availability of specific DNA-based genetic testing.
An X-linked myopathy was recently associated with mutations in the four-and-a-half-LIM domains 1 (FHL1) gene. We identified a family with late onset, slowly progressive weakness of scapuloperoneal muscles in three brothers and their mother. A novel missense mutation in the LIM2 domain of FHL1 (W122C) co-segregated with disease in the family. The phenotype was less severe than that in other reported families. Muscle biopsy revealed myopathic changes with FHL1 inclusions that were ubiquitin- and desmin-positive. This mutation provides additional evidence for X-linked myopathy caused by a narrow spectrum of mutations in FHL1, mostly in the LIM2 domain. Molecular dynamics (MD) simulations of the newly identified mutation and five previously published missense mutations in the LIM2 domain revealed no major distortions of the protein structure or disruption of zinc binding. There were, however, increases in the nonpolar, solvent-accessible surface area in one or both of two clusters of residues, suggesting that the mutant proteins have a variably increased propensity to aggregate. Review of the literature shows a wide range of phenotypes associated with mutations in FHL1. However, recognizing the typical scapuloperoneal phenotype and X-linked inheritance pattern will help clinicians arrive at the correct diagnosis.
X-linked myopathy; scapuloperoneal; FHL1; neurogenetics; muscular dystrophy; genetic diagnosis
We report that eight heterozygous missense mutations in TUBB3, encoding the neuron-specific β-tubulin isotype III, result in a spectrum of human nervous system disorders we now call the TUBB3 syndromes. Each mutation causes the ocular motility disorder CFEOM3, whereas some also result in intellectual and behavioral impairments, facial paralysis, and/or later-onset axonal sensorimotor polyneuropathy. Neuroimaging reveals a spectrum of abnormalities including hypoplasia of oculomotor nerves, and dysgenesis of the corpus callosum, anterior commissure, and corticospinal tracts. A knock-in disease mouse model reveals axon guidance defects without evidence of cortical cell migration abnormalities. We show the disease-associated mutations can impair tubulin heterodimer formation in vitro, although folded mutant heterodimers can still polymerize into microtubules. Modeling each mutation in yeast tubulin demonstrates that all alter dynamic instability whereas a subset disrupts the interaction of microtubules with kinesin motors. These findings demonstrate normal TUBB3 is required for axon guidance and maintenance in mammals.
Families with early-onset Alzheimer’s disease (AD) sharing a single PSEN2 mutation exhibit a wide range of age-at-onset, suggesting that modifier loci segregate within these families. While APOE is known to be an age-at-onset modifier, it does not explain all of this variation. We performed a genome scan within nine such families for loci influencing age-at-onset, while simultaneously controlling for variation in the primary PSEN2 mutation (N141I) and APOE. We found significant evidence of linkage between age-at-onset and chromosome 1q23.3 (P < 0.001) when analysis included all families, and to chromosomes 1q23.3 (P < 0.001), 17p13.2 (P = 0.0002), 7q33 (P = 0.017), and 11p14.2 (P = 0.017) in a single large pedigree. Simultaneous analysis of these four chromosomes maintained strong evidence of linkage to chromosomes 1q23.3 and 17p13.2 when all families were analyzed, and to chromosomes 1q23.3, 7q33, and 17p13.2 within the same single pedigree. Inclusion of major gene covariates proved essential to detect these linkage signals, as all linkage signals dissipated when PSEN2 and APOE were excluded from the model. The four chromosomal regions with evidence of linkage all coincide with previous linkage signals, associated SNPs, and/or candidate genes identified in independent AD study populations. This study establishes several candidate regions for further analysis and is consistent with an oligogenic model of AD risk and age-at-onset. More generally, this study also demonstrates the value of searching for modifier loci in existing datasets previously used to identify primary causal variants for complex disease traits.
genome-scan; modifier scan; quantitative trait; complex disease; dementia
We previously reported a five-generation family manifesting an autosomal dominant disorder of facial myokymia and dystonic/choreic movements (FDFM). The dyskinetic episodes are initially paroxysmal but may become constant. With increasing age they may lessen or even disappear. The previous study excluded nine candidate genes chosen for their association with myokymia or chorea and two regions containing single or clustered ion channel genes. We now report identification by whole genome linkage analysis of a broad region on chromosome 3p21-3q21 that segregates with the disease in all ten affected members in three generations who participated in the study. GENEHUNTER-MODSCORE Version 2.0.1 provided a maximum multipoint LOD score of 3.099. No other disorders primarily characterized by myokymia, dystonia, or chorea are known to map to this region. Identification of additional families with FDFM may narrow the critical region and facilitate the choice of candidate genes for further analysis.
chorea; movement disorder; episodic disorder
Mutations in presenilin 2 are rare causes of early onset familial Alzheimer’s disease. Eighteen presenilin 2 mutations have been reported, although not all have been confirmed pathogenic. Much remains to be learned about the range of phenotypes associated with these mutations. We have analysed our unique collection of 146 affected cases in 11 Volga German families, 101 who are likely to have the same N141I mutation in presenilin 2 (54 genotyped confirmed). We have also assessed the detailed neuropathologic findings in 18 autopsies from these families and reviewed the world’s literature on other presenilin 2 mutations; presenting a novel mutation that is predicted to lead to a premature truncation codon. Seven presenilin 2 mutations reported in the literature have strong evidence for pathogenicity whereas others may be benign polymorphisms. One hundred and one affected persons, with sufficient historical information from the Volga German pedigrees (N141I mutation), had a mean onset age of 53.7 years ± 7.8 (range 39–75) and mean age at death of 64.2 years ± 9.8 (range 43–88). These figures overlap with and generally fall between the results from the subjects in our centre who have late onset familial Alzheimer’s disease or mutations in presenilin 1. Seizures were noted in 20 (30%) of 64 subjects with detailed medical records. Two mutation carriers lived beyond age 80 without developing dementia, representing uncommon examples of decreased penetrance. Two persons had severe amyloid angiopathy and haemorrhagic stroke. Eighteen cases had detailed histopathology available and analysed at our institution. Braak stage was five or six, amyloid angiopathy and neuritic plaques were common and more than 75% had Lewy bodies in the amygdala. TAR DNA-binding protein-43 inclusions were uncommon. In addition, a 58-year-old female with a 2 year course of cognitive decline and no family history of dementia has abnormal fludeoxyglucose-positron emission tomography imaging and a novel 2 base pair deletion in presenilin 2 at nucleotide 342/343, predicted to produce a frame-shift and premature termination. We conclude that mutations in presenilin 2 are rare with only seven being well documented in the literature. The best studied N141I mutation produces an Alzheimer’s disease phenotype with a wide range of onset ages overlapping both early and late onset Alzheimer’s disease, often associated with seizures, high penetrance and typical Alzheimer’s disease neuropathology. A novel premature termination mutation supports loss of function or haploinsufficiency as pathogenic mechanisms in presenilin 2 associated Alzheimer’s disease.
Alzheimer’s disease; presenilin 2; human genetics; dementia; amyloid; Volga German
Alzheimer disease (AD) is the most common causes of neurodegenerative disorder in the elderly individuals. Clinically, patients initially present with short-term memory loss, subsequently followed by executive dysfunction, confusion, agitation, and behavioral disturbances. Three causative genes have been associated with autosomal dominant familial AD (APP, PSEN1, and PSEN2) and 1 genetic risk factor (APOEε4 allele). Identification of these genes has led to a number of animal models that have been useful to study the pathogenesis underlying AD. In this article, we provide an overview of the clinical and genetic features of AD.
Alzheimer disease; genetics; neurodegeneration
To connect a new family with early-onset Alzheimer disease (EOAD) in Germany to the American Volga German pedigrees.
Pedigree molecular genetic analysis.
University Medical Centers in Fulda and Giessen, Germany, and in Seattle, Washington.
The families from Fulda, Germany, and the American Volga German families with EOAD share the same N141I PSEN2 mutation on an identical haplotypic background. This establishes that the N141I mutation occurred prior to emigration of the families from the Hesse region to Russia in the 1760s, and documents that relatives of the original immigrant families are presently living in Germany with the mutation and the disease.
A family with the N141I mutation in PSEN2 that presently lives in Germany has been connected to the haplotype that carries the same mutation in pedigrees descended from the Volga Germans. This raises the possibility that the original patient with Alzheimer disease (Auguste D.), who had EOAD and lived in this same region of Germany, may also have had the PSEN2 N141I mutation.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis/parkinsonism–dementia complex (ALS/PDC) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease found in the Chamorro people of Guam and other Pacific Island populations. The etiology is unknown, although both genetic and environmental factors appear important. To identify loci for ALS/PDC, we conducted both genome-wide linkage and association analyses, using approximately 400 microsatellite markers, in the largest sample assembled to date, comprising a nearly complete sample of all living and previously sampled deceased cases. A single, large, complex pedigree was ascertained from a village on Guam, with smaller families and a case–control sample ascertained from the rest of Guam by population-based neurological screening and archival review. We found significant evidence for two regions with novel ALS/PDC loci on chromosome 12 and supportive evidence for the involvement of the MAPT region on chromosome 17. D12S1617 on 12p gave the strongest evidence of linkage (maximum LOD score, Zmax = 4.03) in our initial scan, with additional support in the complete case–control sample in the form of evidence of allelic association at this marker and another nearby marker. D12S79 on 12q also provided significant evidence of linkage (Zmax = 3.14) with support from flanking markers. Our results suggest that ALS/PDC may be influenced by as many as three loci, while illustrating challenges that are intrinsic in genetic analyses of isolated populations, as well as analytical strategies that are useful in this context. Elucidation of the genetic basis of ALS/PDC should improve our understanding of related neurodegenerative disorders including Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, frontotemporal dementia and ALS.
Mutation in the progranulin gene (GRN) can cause frontotemporal dementia (FTD). However, it is unclear whether some rare FTD-related GRN variants are pathogenic and whether neurodegenerative disorders other than FTD can also be caused by GRN mutations.
To delineate the range of clinical presentations associated with GRN mutations and to define pathogenic candidacy of rare GRN variants.
Clinical and neuropathology dementia research studies at 8 academic centers.
Four hundred thirty-four patients with FTD, including primary progressive aphasia, semantic dementia, FTD/amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), FTD/motor neuron disease, corticobasal syndrome/corticobasal degeneration, progressive supranuclear palsy, Pick disease, dementia lacking distinctive histopathology, and pathologically confirmed cases of frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin-positive inclusions (FTLD-U); and 111 non-FTD cases (controls) in which TDP-43 deposits were a prominent neuropathological feature, including subjects with ALS, Guam ALS and/or parkinsonism dementia complex, Guam dementia, Alzheimer disease, multiple system atrophy, and argyrophilic grain disease.
Main Outcome Measures
Variants detected on sequencing of all 13 GRN exons and at least 80 base pairs of flanking introns, and their pathogenic candidacy determined by in silico and ex vivo splicing assays.
We identified 58 genetic variants that included 26 previously unknown changes. Twenty-four variants appeared to be pathogenic, including 8 novel mutations. The frequency of GRN mutations was 6.9% (30 of 434) of all FTD-spectrum cases, 21.4% (9 of 42) of cases with a pathological diagnosis of FTLD-U, 16.0% (28 of 175) of FTD-spectrum cases with a family history of a similar neurodegenerative disease, and 56.2% (9 of 16) of cases of FTLD-U with a family history.
Pathogenic mutations were found only in FTD-spectrum cases and not in other related neurodegenerative diseases. Haploinsufficiency of GRN is the predominant mechanism leading to FTD.
Disturbed glutamate homeostasis may contribute to the pathological processes involved in Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Once glutamate is released from synapses or from other intracellular sources, it is rapidly cleared by glutamate transporters. EAAC1 (also called EAAT3 or SLC1A1) is the primary glutamate transporter in forebrain neurons. In addition to transporting glutamate, EAAC1 plays other roles in regulating GABA synthesis, reducing oxidative stress in neurons, and is important in supporting neuron viability. Currently, little is known about EAAC1 in AD. To address whether EAAC1 is disturbed in AD, immunohistochemistry was performed on tissue from hippocampus and frontal cortex of AD and normal control subjects matched for age and gender. While EAAC1 immunostaining in cortex appeared comparable to controls, in the hippocampus, EAAC1 aberrantly accumulated in the cell bodies and proximal neuritic processes of CA2–CA3 pyramidal neurons in AD patients. Biochemical analyses showed that Triton X-100-insoluble EAAC1 was significantly increased in the hippocampus of AD patients compared to both controls and Parkinson’s disease patients. These findings suggest that aberrant glutamate transporter expression is associated with AD-related neuropathology and that intracellular accumulation of detergent-insoluble EAAC1 is a feature of the complex biochemical lesions in AD that include altered protein solubility.
Glutamate Uptake; Glutamate toxicity; Synaptic dysfunction; protein aggregation; neurodegeneration; memantine; excitotoxicity
Mutations in the glucocerebrosidase (GBA) gene have been reported to modify risk for Parkinson disease (PD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). However, these findings have not been consistently replicated, and most studies have had substantial methodological shortcomings.
To better assess the role of GBA variants in altering risk for Lewy body disorders.
Four movement disorder clinics in the Seattle, Washington, area.
Seven hundred twenty-one patients with PD, 554 healthy control subjects, and 57 patients with DLB.
Main Outcome Measures
Disease status and presence or absence of the 2 most common GBA mutations (N370S and L444P).
We observed a significantly higher heterozygote frequency for the 2 mutations in patients with PD (2.9%; P<.001) and those with DLB (3.5%; P=.045) compared with control subjects (0.4%).
Our findings suggest that GBA mutations exert a large effect on susceptibility for Lewy body disorders at the individual level but are associated with a modest (approximately 3%) population-attributable risk in individuals of European ancestry.
UCHL1 has been proposed as a candidate gene for Parkinson’s disease (PD). A meta-analysis of white and Asian subjects reported an inverse association between the non-synonymous UCHL1 S18Y polymorphism and PD risk. However, this finding was not replicated in a large case–control study and updated meta-analysis restricted to white subjects. We performed a case–control study of 1757 PD patients recruited from movement disorder clinics and 2016 unrelated controls from four regions of the United States. All subjects self-reported as white. We did not observe evidence for an association between S18Y genotypes and PD (overall P-value for association: P = 0.42). After adjustment for age, sex, and recruitment region, the odds ratio for Y/S versus S/S was 0.91 (95% CI: 0.78–1.06) and for Y/Y versus S/S was 0.87 (95% CI: 0.58–1.29). We also did not observe a significant association for recessive or dominant models of inheritance, or after stratification by age at onset, age at blood draw, sex, family history of PD, or recruitment region. Our results suggest that UCHL1 S18Y is not a major susceptibility factor for PD in white populations although we cannot exclude the possibility that the S18Y variant exerts weak effects on risk, particularly in early-onset disease.
case-control study; neuroepidemiology; Parkinson’s disease; UCHL1
Genetic risk for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) may be conferred by the susceptibility polymorphism apolipoprotein E (APOE), where the ε4 allele increases the risk of developing late-onset Alzheimer’s disease but is not a definitive predictor of the disease, or by autosomal dominant mutations (e.g., the presenilins), which almost inevitably result in early-onset familial Alzheimer’s disease. The purpose of this study was to compare the psychological impact of using these two different types of genetic information to disclose genetic risk for AD to family members of affected patients.
Data were compared from two separate protocols. The Risk Evaluation and Education for Alzheimer’s Disease (REVEAL) Study is a randomized, multi-site clinical trial that evaluated the impact of susceptibility testing for Alzheimer’s disease with APOE in 101 adult children of Alzheimer’s disease patients. A separate study, conducted at the University of Washington, assessed the impact of deterministic genetic testing by disclosing presenilin-1, presenilin-2, or TAU genotype to 22 individuals at risk for familial Alzheimer’s disease or frontotemporal dementia. In both protocols, participants received genetic counseling and completed the Impact of Event Scale (IES), a measure of test-specific distress. Scores were analyzed at the time point closest to one year post-disclosure at which IES data were available. The role of genetic test result (positive vs. negative) and type of genetic testing (deterministic vs. susceptibility) in predicting log-transformed IES scores was assessed with linear regression, controlling for age, gender, and time from disclosure.
Subjects from the REVEAL Study who learned that they were positive for the susceptibility gene APOE ε4+ experienced similar, low levels of test-specific distress compared to those who received positive results of deterministic testing in the University of Washington study (p= 0.78). APOE ε4+ individuals in the susceptibility protocol experienced more test-specific distress than those who tested ε4− in the same study (p= 0.04); however, among those receiving deterministic test disclosure, the subjects who received positive results did not experience significantly higher levels of distress when compared to those who received negative results (p= 0.88).
The findings of this preliminary study, with limited sample size, suggest that the test-related distress experienced by those receiving positive results for a deterministic mutation is similar to the distress experienced by those receiving positive results from genetic susceptibility testing, and that the majority of participants receiving genotype disclosure do not experience clinically significant distress as indicated by IES scores one year after learning of their test results.
genetic susceptibility testing; deterministic testing; Alzheimer’s disease; APOE; genetic counseling
A majority of mutations within the amyloid β (Aβ) region of the amyloid precursor protein (APP) gene cause inherited forms of intracerebral haemorrhage. Most of these mutations may also cause cognitive impairment, but the Arctic APP mutation is the only known intra-Aβ mutation to date causing the more typical clinical picture of Alzheimer's disease (AD).
To describe features of one Swedish and one American family with the previously reported Arctic APP mutation.
Affected and non-affected carriers of the Arctic APP mutation from the Swedish and American families were investigated clinically. In addition, one brain from each family was investigated neuropathologically.
The clinical picture, with age at disease onset in the sixth to seventh decade of life and dysfunction in multiple cognitive areas, is indicative of AD and similar to the phenotype for other AD APP mutations. Several affected mutation carriers displayed general brain atrophy and reduced blood flow of the parietal lobe, as demonstrated by magnetic resonance imaging and single photon emission computed tomography. One Swedish and one American case with the Arctic APP mutation have come to autopsy, neither of which showed any signs of haemorrhage but revealed severe congophilic angiopathy, region-specific neurofibrillary tangle pathology as well as abundant amyloid plaques. Intriguingly, a majority of plaques from both of these cases had a characteristic ring-like character.
Overall, our findings corroborate that the Arctic APP mutation causes a clinical and neuropathological picture compatible with AD.
Familial Alzheimer's disease; APP gene mutations; Arctic mutation; cerebral amyloid angiopathy; dementia; genealogy
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is the most common cause of dementia and represents a major public health problem. The neuropathological findings of Aβ amyloid plaques and tau containing neurofibrillary tangles represent important molecular clues to the underlying pathogenesis. Genetic factors are well recognized, but complicated. Three rare forms of autosomal dominant early onset familial AD have been identified and are associated with mutations in APP (amyloid precursor protein), PS1 (presenilin 1) and PS2 (presenilin 2) genes. The more common late onset form of AD is assumed to be polygenic/multifactorial. However, thus far the only clearly identified genetic risk factor for AD is Apo lipoprotein E. The ε4 allele of ApoE influences age at onset of AD, but is neither necessary nor sufficient for the disease. The search continues for the discovery of additional genetic influences.
Alzheimer; Dementia; Amyloid; Neurogenetics
Objective. The authors investigated the validity of the designation “familial dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB)” by evaluating the clinical, neuropathological, and genetic characteristics of previously reported families exhibiting both familial parkinsonism and dementia.
Methods. Several families, including multiple individuals with parkinsonism as well as prominent dementia, were identified through a literature search. Selected families had at least one member with dementia with autopsy evidence of neocortical and/or limbic Lewy-body (LB) pathology. Clinical and neuropathological evidence from reports of families with prominent dementia as well as parkinsonism was reviewed to further define familial DLB.
Results. All selected families had at least one affected individual with dementia and autopsy-proven DLB. Therefore, these families might be considered examples of familial DLB. Individuals in the first six families typically presented with parkinsonian features, whereas cognitive decline did not appear until years later. In contrast, in the other six families, affected individuals typically presented with cognitive decline, and parkinsonism developed later.
Conclusions. Families exist in which one or more persons meet both clinical and neuropathological criteria for DLB. They differ as to whether the signs of parkinsonism precede or follow signs of dementia. It remains to be determined whether this clinical distinction is biologically important. Susceptibility to developing LB pathology may be determined by the interaction between genetic predisposition and environmental risk factors.
The authors report a case of a 64-year-old male with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) pathology at autopsy who did not manifest the core symptoms of DLB until very late in his clinical course. His initial presentation of early executive and language dysfunction suggested a cortical dementia similar to frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). Core symptoms of DLB including dementia, hallucination, and parkinsonian symptoms were not apparent until late in the course of his illness. Autopsy revealed both brainstem and cortical Lewy bodies and AD pathology. Family history revealed 7 relatives with a history of dementia including 4 with possible or probable DLB. This case is unique because of the FTLD-like presentation, positive family history of dementia, and autopsy confirmation of DLB.
Lewy bodies; familial dementia; Alzheimer’s disease
The origin and significance of Lewy bodies and neurites (Lewy body pathology [LBP]) in Alzheimer disease (AD) are poorly understood.
To examine LBP in the brainstem, limbic cortex, and neocortex of a large number of familial AD cases with mutations in 2 presenilin (PSEN) genes.
Twenty-five familial AD cases with 9 known PSEN 1 mutations and 14 familial AD cases with a single PSEN 2 mutation (N141I) were examined for LBP using α-synuclein immunohistochemistry and sampling of multiple brainstem and cortical regions.
The amygdala was the most vulnerable site for LBP. In fact, virtually all (24 [96%] of 25 cases) of the PSEN 1 mutation cases had LBP in the amygdala. The PSEN 1 mutation cases also had more frequent LBP in the amygdala and neocortex than those with the PSEN 2 mutation. However, within families with a single mutation of either PSEN 1 or PSEN 2, there was frequent variability of the LBP.
These findings suggest that there are genetic influences on the presence of LBP in familial AD as demonstrated by the differences between PSEN 1 and PSEN 2 mutation cases.