The order and magnitude of pathologic processes in Alzheimer’s disease are not well understood, partly because the disease develops over many years. Autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease has a predictable age at onset and provides an opportunity to determine the sequence and magnitude of pathologic changes that culminate in symptomatic disease.
In this prospective, longitudinal study, we analyzed data from 128 participants who underwent baseline clinical and cognitive assessments, brain imaging, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and blood tests. We used the participant’s age at baseline assessment and the parent’s age at the onset of symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease to calculate the estimated years from expected symptom onset (age of the participant minus parent’s age at symptom onset). We conducted cross-sectional analyses of baseline data in relation to estimated years from expected symptom onset in order to determine the relative order and magnitude of pathophysiological changes.
Concentrations of amyloid-beta (Aβ)42 in the CSF appeared to decline 25 years before expected symptom onset. Aβ deposition, as measured by positron-emission tomography with the use of Pittsburgh compound B, was detected 15 years before expected symptom onset. Increased concentrations of tau protein in the CSF and an increase in brain atrophy were detected 15 years before expected symptom onset. Cerebral hypometabolism and impaired episodic memory were observed 10 years before expected symptom onset. Global cognitive impairment, as measured by the Mini–Mental State Examination and the Clinical Dementia Rating scale, was detected 5 years before expected symptom onset, and patients met diagnostic criteria for dementia at an average of 3 years after expected symptom onset.
We found that autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease was associated with a series of pathophysiological changes over decades in CSF biochemical markers of Alzheimer’s disease, brain amyloid deposition, and brain metabolism as well as progressive cognitive impairment. Our results require confirmation with the use of longitudinal data and may not apply to patients with sporadic Alzheimer’s disease. (Funded by the National Institute on Aging and others; DIAN ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00869817.)
To further characterize the neuropathology of the heterogeneous molecular disorder frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) with transactive response (TAR) DNA-binding protein of 43kDa (TDP-43) proteinopathy (FTLD-TDP).
We quantified the neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions (NCI), glial inclusions (GI), neuronal intranuclear inclusions (NII), dystrophic neurites (DN), surviving neurons, abnormally enlarged neurons (EN), and vacuoles in regions of the frontal and temporal lobe using a phosphorylation independent TDP-43 antibody in thirty-two cases of FTLD-TDP comprising sporadic and familial cases, with associated pathology such as hippocampal sclerosis (HS) or Alzheimer’s disease (AD), and four neuropathological subtypes using TDP-43 immunohistochemistry. Analysis of variance (ANOVA) was used to compare differences between the various groups of cases.
These data from FTLD-TDP cases demonstrate quantitative differences in pathological features between: (1) regions of the frontal and temporal lobe, (2) upper and lower cortex, (3) sporadic and progranulin (GRN) mutation cases, (4) cases with and without AD or HS, and (5) between assigned subtypes.
The data confirm that the dentate gyrus is a major site of neuropathology in FTLD-TDP and that most laminae of the cerebral cortex are affected. GRN mutation cases are quantitatively different from sporadic cases while cases with associated HS and AD have increased densities of dystrophic neurites (DN) and abnormally enlarged neurons (EN) respectively. There is little correlation between the subjective assessment of subtypes and the more objective quantitative data.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration with transactive response (TAR) DNA-binding protein of 43kDa (TDP-43) proteinopathy (FTLD-TDP); Density; Neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions (NCI); Neuronal intranuclear inclusion (NII)
The Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) is an ongoing, longitudinal, multicenter study designed to develop clinical, imaging, genetic and biochemical biomarkers for the early detection and tracking of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The study aimed to enroll 400 subjects with early mild cognitive impairment (MCI), 200 subjects with early AD and 200 normal controls and $67 million funding was provided by both the public and private sectors including the National Institutes on Aging, thirteen pharmaceutical companies and two Foundations that provided support through the Foundation for NIH (FNIH). This article reviews all papers published since the inception of the initiative and summarizes the results as of February, 2011. The major accomplishments of ADNI have been 1) the development of standardized methods for clinical, magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) and positron emission tomography (PET) and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarkers in a multi-center setting; 2) elucidation of the patterns and rates of change of imaging and CSF biomarker measurements in control, MCI and AD patients. CSF biomarkers are consistent with disease trajectories predicted by β amyloid (Aβ) cascade  and tau mediated neurodegeneration hypotheses for AD while brain atrophy and hypometabolism levels show predicted patterns but exhibit differing rates of change depending on region and disease severity; 3) the assessment of alternative methods of diagnostic categorization. Currently, the best classifiers combine optimum features from multiple modalities including MRI, FDG-PET, CSF biomarkers and clinical tests; 4) the development of methods for the early detection of AD. CSF biomarkers, Aβ42 and tau as well as amyloid PET may reflect the earliest steps in AD pathology in mildly or even non-symptomatic subjects and are leading candidates for the detection of AD in its preclinical stages; 5) the improvement of clinical trial efficiency through the identification of subjects most likely to undergo imminent future clinical decline and the use of more sensitive outcome measures to reduce sample sizes. Baseline cognitive and/or MRI measures generally predicted future decline better than other modalities whereas MRI measures of change were shown to be the most efficient outcome measures; 6) the confirmation of the AD risk loci CLU, CR1 and PICALM and the identification of novel candidate risk loci; 7) worldwide impact through the establishment of ADNI-like programs in Europe, Asia and Australia; 8) understanding the biology and pathobiology of normal aging, MCI and AD through integration of ADNI biomarker data with clinical data from ADNI to stimulate research that will resolve controversies about competing hypotheses on the etiopathogenesis of AD thereby advancing efforts to find disease modifying drugs for AD; and 9) the establishment of infrastructure to allow sharing of all raw and processed data without embargo to interested scientific investigators throughout the world. The ADNI study was extended by a two year Grand Opportunities grant in 2009 and a renewal of ADNI (ADNI2) in October, 2010 through to 2016, with enrollment of an additional 550 participants.
Clinicopathologic correlation studies are critically important for the field of Alzheimer disease (AD) research. Studies on human subjects with autopsy confirmation entail numerous potential biases that affect both their general applicability and the validity of the correlations. Many sources of data variability can weaken the apparent correlation between cognitive status and AD neuropathologic changes. Indeed, most persons in advanced old age have significant non-AD brain lesions that may alter cognition independently of AD. Worldwide research efforts have evaluated thousands of human subjects to assess the causes of cognitive impairment in the elderly, and these studies have been interpreted in different ways. We review the literature focusing on the correlation of AD neuropathologic changes (i.e. β-amyloid plaques and neurofibrillary tangles) with cognitive impairment. We discuss the various patterns of brain changes that have been observed in elderly individuals to provide a perspective for understanding AD clinicopathologic correlation and conclude that evidence from many independent research centers strongly supports the existence of a specific disease, as defined by the presence of Aβ plaques and neurofibrillary tangles. Although Aβ plaques may play a key role in AD pathogenesis, the severity of cognitive impairment correlates best with the burden of neocortical neurofibrillary tangles.
Aging; Alzheimer disease; Amyloid; Dementia; Epidemiology; Neuropathology; MAPT; Neurofibrillary tangles
The current consensus criteria for the neuropathologic diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), known as the National Institute on Aging/Reagan Institute of the Alzheimer Association Consensus Recommendations for the Postmortem Diagnosis of AD or NIA-Reagan Criteria , were published in 1997 (hereafter referred to as “1997 Criteria”). Knowledge of AD and the tools used for clinical investigation of cognitive impairment and dementia have advanced substantially since then and have prompted this update on the neuropathologic assessment of AD.
We present a practical guide for the implementation of recently revised National Institute on Aging-Alzheimer’s Association guidelines for the neuropathologic assessment of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Major revisions from previous consensus criteria are: (i) recognition that AD neuropathologic changes may occur in the apparent absence of cognitive impairment, (ii) an “ABC” score for AD neuropathologic change that incorporates histopathologic assessments of amyloid β deposits (A), staging of neurofibrillary tangles (B), and scoring of neuritic plaques (C), and (iii) more detailed approaches for assessing commonly co-morbid conditions such as Lewy body disease, vascular brain injury, hippocampal sclerosis, and TAR DNA binding protein (TDP)-43 immunoreactive inclusions. Recommendations also are made for the minimum sampling of brain, preferred staining methods with acceptable alternatives, reporting of results, and clinico-pathologic correlations.
Abnormal neuronal aggregates of α-internexin and the three neurofilament (NF) subunits, NF-L, NF-M, and NF-H have recently been identified as the pathological hallmarks of neuronal intermediate filament (IF) inclusion disease (NIFID), a novel neurological disease of early onset with a variable clinical phenotype including frontotemporal dementia, pyramidal and extrapyramidal signs. α-Internexin, a class IV IF protein, a major component of inclusions in NIFID, has not previously been identified as a component of the pathological protein aggregates of any other neurodegenerative disease. Therefore, to determine the specificity of this protein, α-internexin immunohistochemistry was undertaken on cases of NIFID, non-tau frontotemporal dementias, motor neuron disease, α-synucleinopathies, tauopathies, and normal aged control brains. Our results indicate that class IV IF proteins are present within the pleomorphic inclusions of all cases of NIFID. Small subsets of abnormal neuronal inclusions in Alzheimer's disease, Lewy body diseases, and motor neuron disease also contain epitopes of α-internexin. Thus, α-internexin is a major component of the neuronal inclusions in NIFID and a relatively minor component of inclusions in other neurodegenerative diseases. The discovery of α-internexin in neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions implicates novel mechanisms of pathogenesis in NIFID and other neurological diseases with pathological filamentous neuronal inclusions.
α-Internexin; Neurofilament; Intermediate filament; Neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease; Frontotemporal dementia
The dopamine D1, D2, D3 receptors, vesicular monoamine transporter type-2 (VMAT2), and dopamine transporter (DAT) densities were measured in 11 aged human brains (aged 77–107.8, mean: 91 years) by quantitative autoradiography. The density of D1 receptors, VMAT2, and DAT was measured using [3H]SCH23390, [3H]dihydrotetrabenazine, and [3H]WIN35428, respectively. The density of D2 and D3 receptors was calculated using the D3-preferring radioligand, [3H]WC-10 and the D2-preferring radioligand [3H]raclopride using a mathematical model developed previously by our group. Dopamine D1, D2, and D3 receptors are extensively distributed throughout striatum; the highest density of D3 receptors occurred in the nucleus accumbens (NAc). The density of the DAT is 10–20-fold lower than that of VMAT2 in striatal regions. Dopamine D3 receptor density exceeded D2 receptor densities in extrastriatal regions, and thalamus contained a high level of D3 receptors with negligible D2 receptors. The density of dopamine D1 linearly correlated with D3 receptor density in the thalamus. The density of the DAT was negligible in the extrastriatal regions whereas the VMAT2 was expressed in moderate density. D3 receptor and VMAT2 densities were in similar level between the aged human and aged rhesus brain samples, whereas aged human brain samples had lower range of densities of D1 and D2 receptors and DAT compared with the aged rhesus monkey brain. The differential density of D3 and D2 receptors in human brain will be useful in the interpretation of PET imaging studies in human subjects with existing radiotracers, and assist in the validation of newer PET radiotracers having a higher selectivity for dopamine D2 or D3 receptors.
Abundant abnormal aggregates of cytoskeletal proteins are neuropathological signatures of many neurodegenerative diseases that are broadly classified by filamentous aggregates of neuronal intermediate filament (IF) proteins, or by inclusions containing the microtubule-associated protein (MAP) tau. The discovery of mutations in neuronal IF and tau genes firmly establishes the importance of neuronal IF proteins and tau in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases. Multiple IF gene mutations are pathogenic for Charcot–Marie–Tooth (CMT) disease and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) — in addition to those in the copper/zinc superoxide dismutase-1 (SOD1) gene. Tau gene mutations are pathogenic for frontotemporal dementia with parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17 (FTDP-17), and tau polymorphisms are genetic risk factors for sporadic progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) and corticobasal degeneration (CBD). Thus, IF and tau abnormalities are linked directly to the aetiology and pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases. In vitro and transgenic animal models are being used to demonstrate that different mutations impair protein function, promote tau fibrilization, or perturb tau gene splicing, leading to aberrant and distinct tau aggregates. For recognition of these disorders at neuropathological examination, immunohistochemistry is needed, and this may be combined with biochemistry and molecular genetics to properly determine the nosology of a particular case. As reviewed here, the identification of molecular genetic defects and biochemical alterations in cytoskeletal proteins of human neurodegenerative diseases has facilitated experimental studies and will promote the development of assays of molecules which inhibit abnormal neuronal IF and tau protein inclusions.
neuronal intermediate filament; tau; cytoskeleton; mutation; neurodegenerative disease; peripheral neuropathy
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is clinically, pathologically and genetically heterogeneous. Three major proteins are implicated in its pathogenesis. About half of cases are characterized by depositions of the microtubule associated protein, tau (FTLD-tau). In most of the remaining cases, deposits of the transactive response (TAR) DNA-binding protein with Mw of 43 kDa, known as TDP-43 (FTLD-TDP), are seen. Lastly, about 5–10 % of cases are characterized by abnormal accumulations of a third protein, fused in sarcoma (FTLD-FUS). Depending on the protein concerned, the signature accumulations can take the form of inclusion bodies (neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions and neuronal intranuclear inclusions) or dystrophic neurites, in the cerebral cortex, hippocampus and subcortex. In some instances, glial cells are also affected by inclusion body formation. In motor neurone disease (MND), TDP-43 or FUS inclusions can present within motor neurons of the brain stem and spinal cord. This present paper attempts to critically examine the role of such proteins in the pathogenesis of FTLD and MND as to whether they might exert a direct pathogenetic effect (gain of function), or simply act as relatively innocent witnesses to a more fundamental loss of function effect. We conclude that although there is strong evidence for both gain and loss of function effects in respect of each of the proteins concerned, in reality, it is likely that each is a single face of either side of the coin, and that both will play separate, though complementary, roles in driving the damage which ultimately leads to the downfall of neurons and clinical expression of disease.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Motor neurone disease; Microtubule associated protein; Tau; TDP-43; FUS; Gain of function; Loss of function
There is a growing need to identify cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) markers that can detect Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology in cognitively normal individuals since it is in this population that disease-modifying therapies may have the greatest chance of success. While AD pathology is estimated to begin ~10–15 years prior to the onset of cognitive decline, substantial neuronal loss is present by the time the earliest signs of cognitive impairment appear. Visinin-like protein −1 (VILIP-1) has demonstrated potential utility as a marker of neuronal injury. We here investigate CSF VILIP-1 and VILIP-1/amyloid-β42 (Aβ42) ratio as diagnostic and prognostic markers in early AD.
We assessed CSF levels of VILIP-1, tau, phosphorylated-tau181 (p-tau181), and Aβ42 in cognitively normal controls [CNC] (n=211), individuals with early symptomatic AD (n=98), and individuals with other dementias (n=19). Structural magnetic resonance imaging (n=192) and amyloid imaging with Pittsburgh Compound-B (n=156) were obtained in subsets of this cohort. Among the CNC cohort, 164 individuals had follow-up annual cognitive assessments for 2–3 years.
CSF VILIP-1 levels differentiated individuals with AD from CNC and individuals with other dementias. CSF VILIP-1 levels correlated with CSF tau, p-tau181, and brain volumes in AD. VILIP-1 and VILIP-1/Aβ42 predicted future cognitive impairment in CNC over the follow-up period. Importantly, CSF VILIP-1/Aβ42 predicted future cognitive impairment at least as well as tau/Aβ42 and p-tau181/Aβ42.
These findings suggest that CSF VILIP-1 and VILIP-1/Aβ42 offer diagnostic utility for early AD, and can predict future cognitive impairment in cognitively normal individuals similarly to tau and tau/Aβ42, respectively.
Visinin-like protein-1; Alzheimer’s disease; biomarkers; cerebrospinal fluid; neuronal injury
Neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions (NCI) immunoreactive for transactive response DNA-binding protein (TDP-43) are the pathological hallmark of frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TDP-43 proteinopathy (FTLD-TDP). We studied the spatial patterns of the TDP-43 immunoreactive NCI in the frontal and temporal cortex of 15 cases of FTLD-TDP. The NCI were distributed parallel to the tissue boundary predominantly in regular clusters 50–400 μm in diameter. In five cortical areas, the size of the clusters approximated to the cells of the cortico-cortical pathways. In most regions, cluster size was smaller than 400 μm. There were no significant differences in spatial patterns between familial and sporadic cases. Cluster size of the NCI was not correlated with disease duration, brain weight, Braak stage, or disease subtype. The spatial pattern of the NCI was similar to that of neuronal inclusions in other neurodegenerative diseases and may reflect a common pattern of degeneration involving the cortico-cortical projections.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TDP-43 proteinopathy (FTLD-TDP); TAR DNA-binding protein of 43 kDa (TDP-43); Neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions (NCI); Spatial pattern
Fused in sarcoma (FUS)-immunoreactive neuronal and glial inclusions define a novel molecular pathology called FUS proteinopathy. FUS has been shown to be a component of inclusions of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis with FUS mutation and three FTLD entities, including neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease (NIFID). The pathogenic role of FUS is unknown. In addition to FUS, many neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions (NCI) of NIFID contain aggregates of α-internexin and neurofilament proteins. Herein, we have: (1) shown that FUS becomes relatively insoluble in NIFID and there are no post-translational modifications; (2) shown there are no pathogenic abnormalities in the FUS gene in NIFID; (3) performed an immunoelectron microscopy analysis of the precise localizations of FUS in NIFID, as this has not previously been described. FUS localized to euchromatin, and strongly with paraspeckles, in nuclei, consistent with its RNA/DNA-binding functions. NCI of varying morphologies were observed. Most frequent were the ‘loosely aggregated cytoplasmic inclusions’ (LACI), 81% of which had moderate or high levels of FUS-immunoreactivity. Much rarer ‘compact cytoplasmic inclusions’ (CCI) and ‘Tangled twine ball inclusions’ (TTBI) were FUS-immunoreactive at their granular peripheries, or heavily FUS-positive throughout, respectively. Thus FUS may aggregate in the cytoplasm and then admix with neuronal intermediate filament accumulations.
Neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; FUS; neurofilament; α-internexin; immunoelectron microscopy
Mutations of the progranulin (GRN) gene are major cause of familial frontotemporal lobar degeneration with transactive response (TAR) DNA-binding protein of 43kDa (TDP-43) proteinopathy (FTLD-TDP). We studied the spatial patterns of TDP-43 immunoreactive neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions (NCI) neuronal intranuclear inclusions (NII) in histological sections of the frontal and temporal lobe in eight cases of FTLD-TDP with GRN mutation using morphometric methods and spatial pattern analysis. In neocortical regions, the NCI were clustered and the clusters were regularly distributed parallel to the pia mater; 58% of regions analysed exhibiting this pattern. The NII were present in regularly distributed clusters in 35% of regions but also randomly distributed in many areas. In neocortical regions, the sizes of the regular clusters of NCI and NII were 400–800 µm, approximating to the size of the modular columns of the cortico-cortical projections, in 31% and 36% of regions respectively. The NCI and NII also exhibited regularly spaced clustering in sectors CA1/2 of the hippocampus and in dentate gyrus. The clusters of NCI and NII were not spatially correlated. The data suggest degeneration of the cortico-cortical and cortico-hippocampal pathways in FTLD-TDP with GRN mutation, the NCI and NII affecting different clusters of neurons.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TDP-43 proteinopathy (FTLD-TDP); TAR DNA-binding protein (TDP-43); Progranulin (GRN) mutation; Spatial topography
Multiple system atrophy is a late, adult-onset α-synucleinopathy with no data on the effect of pregnancy on the disease course. Early stage multiple system atrophy can be difficult to distinguish from Parkinson's disease.
We describe the case of an Irish woman with parkinsonism starting at age 31, initially diagnosed as having dopa-responsive, idiopathic Parkinson's disease, who successfully delivered a full-term child at age 35. Her pregnancy was complicated by severe orthostatic hypotension and motor fluctuations. Two years post-partum, she underwent bilateral subthalamic nuclei deep brain stimulation for intractable motor fluctuations and disabling dyskinesia. After this treatment course she experienced deterioration of motor symptoms and death eight years after disease onset. Post-mortem neuropathological examination revealed striatonigral degeneration and α-synuclein-positive glial cytoplasmic inclusions in brain stem nuclei, basal ganglia and white matter tracts, consistent with a neuropathological diagnosis of multiple system atrophy.
Multiple system atrophy can affect women of child-bearing age and pregnancy may be associated with marked disease progression.
Disease-modifying therapies for Alzheimer’s disease (AD) would be most beneficial if applied during the ‘preclinical’ stage (pathology present with cognition intact) before significant neuronal loss occurs. Therefore, biomarkers that can detect AD pathology in its early stages and predict dementia onset and progression will be invaluable for patient care and efficient clinical trial design.
2D–difference gel electrophoresis and liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry were used to measure AD-associated changes in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Concentrations of CSF YKL-40 were further evaluated by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay in the discovery cohort (N=47), an independent sample set (N=292) with paired plasma samples (N=237), frontotemporal lobar degeneration (N=9), and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP, N=6). Human AD brain was studied immunohistochemically to identify potential source(s) of YKL-40.
In the discovery and validation cohorts, mean CSF YKL-40 was higher in very mild and mild AD-type dementia (Clinical Dementia Rating [CDR] 0.5 and 1) vs. controls (CDR 0) and PSP. Importantly, CSF YKL-40/Aβ42 ratio predicted risk of developing cognitive impairment (CDR 0 to CDR>0 conversion) as well as the best CSF biomarkers identified to date, tau/Aβ42 and p-tau181/Aβ42. Mean plasma YKL-40 was higher in CDR 0.5 and 1 vs. CDR 0 groups, and correlated with CSF levels. YKL-40 immunoreactivity was observed within astrocytes near a subset of amyloid plaques, implicating YKL-40 in the neuroinflammatory response to Aβ deposition.
These data demonstrate that YKL-40, a putative indicator of neuroinflammation, is elevated in AD, and that, together with Aβ42, has potential prognostic utility as a biomarker for preclinical AD.
YKL-40; Alzheimer’s disease; biomarkers; cerebrospinal fluid; chitinase-3 like-1; inflammation
Neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease (NIFID) is a frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) characterized by frontotemporal dementia (FTD), pyramidal and extrapyramidal signs. The disease is histologically characterized by the presence of abnormal neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions (NCIs) which contain α-internexin and other neuronal intermediate filament (IF) proteins. Gigaxonin (GAN) is a cytoskeletal regulating protein and the genetic cause of giant axonal neuropathy. Since the immunoreactive profile of NCIs in NIFID is similar to that observed in brain sections from GanΔex1/Δex1 mice, we speculated that GAN could be a candidate gene causing NIFID. Therefore, we performed a mutation analysis of GAN in NIFID patients. Although the NCIs of NIFID and GanΔex1/Δex1 mice were immunohistochemically similar, no GAN variant was identified in DNA obtained from well-characterized cases of NIFID.
Neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease; α-Internexin; Gigaxonin; Mutation analysis
Our objectives are to facilitate autopsy consent, brain collection, and perform standardized neuropathologic assessments of all Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) participants who come to autopsy at the 58 ADNI sites in the USA and Canada.
Building on the expertise and resources of the existing Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (ADRC) at Washington University School of Medicine, St. Louis, MO, a Neuropathology Core (NPC) to serve ADNI was established with one new highly motivated research coordinator. The ADNI-NPC coordinator provides training materials and protocols to assist clinicians at ADNI sites in obtaining voluntary consent for brain autopsy in ADNI participants. Secondly, the ADNI-NPC maintains a central laboratory to provide uniform neuropathologic assessments using the operational criteria for the classification of AD and other pathologies defined by the National Alzheimer Coordinating Center (NACC). Thirdly, the ADNI-NPC maintains a state-of-the-art brain bank of ADNI-derived brain tissue to promote biomarker and multi-disciplinary clinicopathologic studies.
During the initial year of funding of the ADNI Neuropathology Core, there was notable improvement in the autopsy rate to 44.4%. In the most recent year of funding (September 1st, 2008 to August 31st 2009), our autopsy rate improved to 71.5%. Although the overall numbers to date are small, these data demonstrate that the Neuropathology Core has established the administrative organization with the participating sites to harvest brains from ADNI participants who come to autopsy.
Within two years of operation, the Neuropathology Core has: (1) implemented a protocol to solicit permission for brain autopsy in ADNI participants at all 58 sites who die and (2) to send appropriate brain tissue from the decedents to the Neuropathology Core for a standardized, uniform, and state-of-the-art neuropathologic assessment. The benefit to ADNI of the implementation of the NPC is very clear. Prior to the establishment of the NPC in September 2007, there were 6 deaths but no autopsies in ADNI participants. Subsequent to the establishment of the Core there have been 17 deaths of ADNI participants and 10 autopsies. Hence, the autopsy rate has gone from 0% to 59%. The third major accomplishment is the detection of co-existent pathologies with AD in the autopsied cases. It is possible that these co-morbidities may contribute to any variance in ADNI data.
Alzheimer's disease; Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative; autopsy consent; brain bank; neuropathologic diagnostic criteria
The objective is to study β-amyloid (Aβ) deposition in dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology (DLB/AD). The size frequency distributions of the Aβ deposits were studied and fitted by log-normal and power-law models. Patients were ten clinically and pathologically diagnosed DLB/AD cases. Size distributions had a single peak and were positively skewed and similar to those described in AD and Down’s syndrome. Size distributions had smaller means in DLB/AD than in AD. Log-normal and power-law models were fitted to the size distributions of the classic and diffuse deposits, respectively. Size distributions of Aβ deposits were similar in DLB/AD and AD. Size distributions of the diffuse deposits were fitted by a power-law model suggesting that aggregation/disaggregation of Aβ was the predominant factor, whereas the classic deposits were fitted by a log-normal distribution suggesting that surface diffusion was important in the pathogenesis of the classic deposits.
Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB); Alzheimer’s disease (AD); β-Amyloid (Aβ) deposits; Size frequency distributions; Log-normal model; Power-law model
The aim of this study was to improve the neuropathologic recognition and provide criteria for the pathological diagnosis in the neurodegenerative diseases grouped as frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD); revised criteria are proposed. Recent advances in molecular genetics, biochemistry, and neuropathology of FTLD prompted the Midwest Consortium for Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration and experts at other centers to review and revise the existing neuropathologic diagnostic criteria for FTLD. The proposed criteria for FTLD are based on existing criteria, which include the tauopathies [FTLD with Pick bodies, corticobasal degeneration, progressive supranuclear palsy, sporadic multiple system tauopathy with dementia, argyrophilic grain disease, neurofibrillary tangle dementia, and FTD with microtubule-associated tau (MAPT) gene mutation, also called FTD with parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17 (FTDP-17)]. The proposed criteria take into account new disease entities and include the novel molecular pathology, TDP-43 proteinopathy, now recognized to be the most frequent histological finding in FTLD. TDP-43 is a major component of the pathologic inclusions of most sporadic and familial cases of FTLD with ubiquitin-positive, tau-negative inclusions (FTLD-U) with or without motor neuron disease (MND). Molecular genetic studies of familial cases of FTLD-U have shown that mutations in the progranulin (PGRN) gene are a major genetic cause of FTLD-U. Mutations in valosin-containing protein (VCP) gene are present in rare familial forms of FTD, and some families with FTD and/or MND have been linked to chromosome 9p, and both are types of FTLD-U. Thus, familial TDP-43 proteinopathy is associated with defects in multiple genes, and molecular genetics is required in these cases to correctly identify the causative gene defect. In addition to genetic heterogeneity amongst the TDP-43 proteinopathies, there is also neuropathologic heterogeneity and there is a close relationship between genotype and FTLD-U sub-type. In addition to these recent significant advances in the neuropathology of FTLD-U, novel FTLD entities have been further characterized, including neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease. The proposed criteria incorporate up-to-date neuropathology of FTLD in the light of recent immunohistochemical, biochemical, and genetic advances. These criteria will be of value to the practicing neuropathologist and provide a foundation for clinical, clinico-pathologic, mechanistic studies and in vivo models of pathogenesis of FTLD.
Frontotemporal dementia; Semantic dementia; Progressive non-Xuent aphasia; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Motor neuron disease; Tauopathy; Ubiquitin; TDP-43 proteinopathy; Progranulin; Valosin-containing protein; Charged multivesicular body protein 2B; Neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease; Neuropathologic diagnosis
Familial autosomal dominant frontotemporal dementia with ubiquitin-positive, tau-negative inclusions in the brain linked to 17q21-22 recently has been reported to carry null mutations in the progranulin gene (PGRN). Hereditary dysphasic disinhibition dementia (HDDD) is a frontotemporal dementia with prominent changes in behavior and language deficits. A previous study found significant linkage to chromosome 17 in a HDDD family (HDDD2), but no mutation in the MAPT gene. Longitudinal follow-up has enabled us to identify new cases and to further characterize the dementia in this family. The goals of this study were to develop research criteria to classify the different clinical expressions of dementia observed in this large kindred, to identify the causal mutation in affected individuals and correlate this with phenotypic characteristics in this pedigree, and to assess the neuropathological characteristics using immunohistochemical techniques.
In this study we describe a detailed clinical, pathological and mutation analysis of the HDDD2 kindred.
Neuropathologically, HDDD2 represents a familial frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin-positive, tau-negative inclusions (FTLD-U). We developed research classification criteria and identified three distinct diagnostic thresholds, which helped localize the disease locus. The chromosomal region with the strongest evidence of linkage lies within the minimum critical region for FTLD-U. Sequencing of each exon of the PGRN gene led to the identification of a novel missense mutation, Ala-9 Asp, within the signal peptide.
HDDD2 is an FTLD-U caused by a missense mutation in the PGRN gene that cosegregates with the disease and with the disease haplotype in at-risk individuals. This mutation is the first reported pathogenic missense mutation in the signal peptide of the PGRN gene causing FTLD-U. In light of the previous reports of null mutations and its position in the gene, two possible pathological mechanisms are proposed: (1) the protein may accumulate within the endoplasmic reticulum due to inefficient secretion; and (2) mutant RNA may have a lower expression because of degradation via nonsense-mediated decay.
To determine the temporal relationships of clinical, cognitive, Pittsburgh Compound-B (PiB) amyloid imaging, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) markers of Alzheimer’s disease (AD).
A case report of a longitudinally assessed participant in a memory and aging study who had serial clinical and psychometric assessments over 6 years, in addition to PiB imaging and CSF biomarker assays, prior to coming to autopsy.
Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center
An 85-year old individual was cognitively normal at his initial and next 3 annual assessments. Decline in measures of episodic memory and, to a lesser degree, working memory began at about age 88 years. PiB-PET amyloid imaging was negative at age 88.5 years, but at age 89.5 years there was reduced amyloid-beta 42 (Aβ42) and elevated levels of tau in the CSF. At his 6th assessment, when he was 90 years old, he was diagnosed with very mild dementia of the Alzheimer type. After death at age 91 years, the autopsy revealed foci of frequent neocortical diffuse Aβ plaques, sufficient to fulfill Khachaturian neuropathologic criteria for AD, but neuritic plaques and neurofibrillary tangles were sparse. Postmortem biochemical analysis of the cerebral tissue confirmed that PiB-PET-binding was below the level needed for in vivo detection.
Clinical, cognitive, and CSF markers consistent with AD may precede detection of cerebral Aβ with amyloid imaging agents such as PiB, which primarily label fibrillar Aβ plaques.
In exploring the cognitive reserve hypothesis in persons with substantial Alzheimer disease neuropathology, we aimed to determine the extent to which educational attainment and densities of diffuse plaques, neuritic plaques, and neurofibrillary tangles predict dementia. Participants were 1563 individuals aged 65 years or above who were assessed for dementia within 1 year of death. Generalized linear mixed models were used to examine whether education and density ratings of diffuse plaques and neuritic plaques, and neurofibrillary tangle stage were associated with a dementia diagnosis. Education interacted with densities of neuritic plaques to predict dementia. Tangle density independently predicted dementia, but did not interact with education. Diffuse plaque density was unrelated to dementia when adjusted for densities of neuritic plaques and tangles. Among individuals with Alzheimer disease neuropathology, educational attainment, as a surrogate of cognitive reserve, modifies the influence of neuritic, but not diffuse, plaque neuropathology on the expression of dementia.
Alzheimer disease; cognitive reserve; education; neuropathology
Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a clinical term encompassing dementia characterized by the presence of two major phenotypes: 1) behavioral and personality disorder, and 2) language disorder, which includes primary progressive aphasia and semantic dementia. Recently, the gene for familial frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) with ubiquitin-positive, tau-negative inclusions (FTLD-U) linked to chromosome 17 was cloned. In the present study, 62 unrelated patients from the Washington University Alzheimer's Disease Research Center and the Midwest Consortium for FTD with clinically diagnosed FTD and/or neuropathologically characterized cases of FTLD-U with or without motor neuron disease (MND) were screened for mutations in the progranulin gene (GRN; also PGRN). We discovered two pathogenic mutations in four families: 1) a single-base substitution within the 3′ splice acceptor site of intron 6/exon 7 (g.5913A>G [IVS6–2A>G]) causing skipping of exon 7 and premature termination of the coding sequence (PTC); and 2) a missense mutation in exon 1 (g.4068C>A) introducing a charged amino acid in the hydrophobic core of the signal peptide at residue 9 (p.A9D). Functional analysis in mutation carriers for the splice acceptor site mutation revealed a 50% decrease in GRN mRNA and protein levels, supporting haploinsufficiency. In contrast, there was no significant difference in the total GRN mRNA between cases and controls carrying the p.A9D mutation. Further, subcellular fractionation and confocal microscopy indicate that although the mutant protein is expressed, it is not secreted, and appears to be trapped within an intracellular compartment, possibly resulting in a functional haploinsufficiency.
Frontotemporal dementia; FTD; granulin; progranulin; GRN; PGRN