Hereditary diffuse leukoencephalopathy with spheroids (HDLS) was originally described in a large Swedish pedigree. Since then, 22 reports describing a total of 13 kindred's and 11 sporadic cases have been published. Inheritance is autosomal dominant, albeit the gene is unknown. Here we report on the clinical findings, genealogical data, brain MRI data, and autopsy/biopsy findings of four probands from three independently ascertained novel families from Norway, Germany and US.
We identified a 39-year-old female and her twin sister, a 52-year-old male and a 47-year-old male with progressive neurological illness characterized by personality changes, cognitive decline and motor impairments, such as gait problems, bradykinesia, tremor and rigidity. Brain MRI showed white matter abnormalities with frontal prominence. Brain biopsy/autopsies were consistent with HDLS.
HDLS is an under-recognized disease and in reporting these cases, we aim to increase the awareness of the disorder. Due to varied and wide phenotypic presentations, which may imitate several neurodegenerative diseases, HDLS can be difficult to diagnose. Definitive diagnosis can be established only by direct brain tissue examination. Familiarity with the clinical presentation and typical neuroimaging findings may be helpful in narrowing the diagnosis.
HDLS; White matter disease; Autosomal dominant; Personality changes; Cognitive problems; Depression; Parkinsonism
Patterns of atrophy in frontotemporal dementia (FTD) correlate with the clinical subtypes of behavioral variant FTD (bvFTD), semantic dementia, progressive non-fluent aphasia (PNFA) and FTD with motor neuron disease (FTD-MND). Right temporal variant FTD is associated with behavioral dyscontrol and semantic impairment, with tau abnormalities more common in right temporal bvFTD and TDP-43 accumulation in right temporal semantic dementia. However, no clinical and anatomical correlation has been described for patients with predominant right temporal atrophy and FTD-MND. Therefore, we performed a database screen for all patients diagnosed with FTD-MND at Mayo Clinic and reviewed their MRI scans to identify those with striking, dominant, right temporal lobe atrophy. For cases with volumetric MRI we performed voxel based morphometry and for those with brain tissue we performed pathological examination. Of three such patients identified, each patient had different presenting behavioral and/or aphasic characteristics. MRI, including DTI sequence in one patient, and FDG PET scan, revealed striking and dominant right temporal lobe atrophy, right corticospinal tract degeneration, and right temporal hypometabolism. Archived brain tissue was available in 2 patients; both demonstrating TDP-43 type 3 pathology (Mackenzie scheme) with predominant neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions. In one case, neurofibrillary tangles (Braak V) and neuritic plaques were also present in keeping with a diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease. There appears to be an association between FTD-MND and severe right temporal lobe atrophy. Until further characterization of such cases are determined, they may be best classified as right temporal variant FTD-MND.
Frontotemporal dementia; Motor neuron disease; TDP-43; Voxel based morphometry (VBM); positron emission tomography (PET
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.
To determine whether dementia with Lewy bodies with or without probable rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder differ clinically or pathologically.
Patients with dementia with Lewy bodies who have probable rapid eye movement sleep behavior sleep disorder (n=71) were compared to those without it (n=19) on demographics, clinical variables (core features of dementia with Lewy bodies, dementia duration, rate of cognitive/motor changes) and pathologic indices (Lewy body distribution, neuritic plaque score, Braak neurofibrillary tangle stage).
Individuals with probable rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder were predominantly male (82% versus 47%), and had a shorter duration of dementia (mean 8 years versus 10 years), earlier onset of parkinsonism (mean 2 years versus 5 years), and earlier onset of visual hallucinations (mean 3 years versus 6 years). These patients also had a lower Braak neurofibrillary tangle stage (Stage IV versus Stage VI) and lower neuritic plaque scores (18% frequent versus 85% frequent), but no difference in Lewy body distribution. When probable rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder developed early (at or before dementia onset), the onset of parkinsonism and hallucinations was earlier and Braak neurofibrillary tangle stage was lower compared to those who developed the sleep disorder after dementia onset. Women with autopsy-confirmed DLB without a history of dream enactment behavior during sleep had a later onset of hallucinations and parkinsonism and a higher Braak NFT stage.
Probable rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder is associated with distinct clinical and pathologic characteristics of dementia with Lewy bodies.
Parkinson’s disease; REM sleep behavior disorder; Dementia with Lewy bodies; Lewy body disease; Alzheimer’s disease
Conditional overexpression of four-repeat human tau containing the P301L missense mutation in the rTg4510 mouse model of tauopathy leads to progressive accumulation of neurofibrillary tangles and hyperphosphorylated, sarkosyl-insoluble tau species, which are biochemically comparable to abnormal tau characteristic of hereditary tauopathies termed FTDP-17. To fully understand the impact of tau species at different stages of self-assembly on neurodegeneration, we fractionated rTg4510 brain representing several stages of tauopathy to obtain TBS-extractable (S1), high salt/sarkosyl-extractable (S3), and sarkosyl-insoluble (P3) fractions. Under reducing condition, the S1 fraction was demonstrated by Western blotting to contain both 50–60 kDa normally-sized and 64 kDa tau. Both are thermo-stable, but the 64 kDa tau showed a higher degree of phosphorylation. Under non-reducing condition, nearly all TBS-extractable 64 kDa tau were detected as ~130 kDa species consistent with the size of dimer. Quantitative analysis showed ~80 times more 64 kDa tau in S1 than P3 fraction. Immunoelectron microscopy revealed tau-positive granules/short filaments in S1 fraction. These structures displayed MC1 immunoreactivities indicative of conformational/pathological change of tau. MC1 immunoreactivity was detected by dot blotting in samples from 2.5 month-old mice, whereas Ab39 immunoreactivity indicative of late stages of tau assembly was detected only in P3 fraction. Quantitative analysis also demonstrated a significant inverse correlation between brain weight and 64 kDa tau, but the level of TBS-extractable 64 kDa tau reflects neurodegeneration better than that of sarkosyl-insoluble 64 kDa tau. Together, the findings suggest that TBS-extractable 64 kDa tau production is a potential target for therapeutic intervention of tauopathies.
tau protein; tauopathy; transgenic mice; FTDP-17; hyperphosphorylation; dimer
Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are part of a disease spectrum associated with TDP-43 pathology. Strong evidence supporting this is the existence of kindreds with family members affected by FTD, ALS or mixed features of FTD and ALS, referred to as FTD-MND. Some of these families have linkage to chromosome 9, with hexanucleotide expansion mutation in a noncoding region of C9ORF72. Discovery of the mutation defines c9FTD/ALS. Prior to discovery of mutations in C9ORF72, it was assumed that TDP-43 pathology in c9FTD/ALS was uniform. In this study, we examined the neuropathology and clinical features of 20 cases of c9FTD/ALS from a brain bank for neurodegenerative disorders. Included are six patients clinically diagnosed with ALS, eight FTD, one FTD-MND and four Alzheimer type dementia. Clinical information was unavailable for one patient. Pathologically, the cases all had TDP-43 pathology, but there were three major pathologic groups: ALS, FTLD-MND and FTLD-TDP. The ALS cases were morphologically similar to typical sporadic ALS with almost no extramotor TDP-43 pathology; all had oligodendroglial cytoplasmic inclusions. The FTLD-MND showed predominantly Mackenzie Type 3 TDP-43 pathology, and all had ALS-like pathology in motor neurons, but more extensive extramotor pathology, with oligodendroglial cytoplasmic inclusions and infrequent hippocampal sclerosis. The FTLD-TDP cases had several features similar to FTLD-TDP due to mutations in the gene for progranulin, including Mackenzie Type 1 TDP-43 pathology with neuronal intranuclear inclusions and hippocampal sclerosis. FTLD-TDP patients were older and some were thought to have Alzheimer type dementia. In addition to the FTD and ALS clinical presentations, the present study shows that c9FTD/ALS can have other presentations, possibly related to age of onset and presence of hippocampal sclerosis. Moreover, there is pathologic heterogeneity not only between ALS and FTLD, but within the FTLD group. Further studies are needed to address the molecular mechanism of clinical and pathological heterogeneity of c9FTD/ALS due to mutations in C9ORF72.
The most recent late-onset Alzheimer’s disease (LOAD) genome-wide association study revealed genome-wide significant association of two new loci: rs744373 near BIN1 (p=1.6×10−11) and rs597668 near EXOC3L2/BLOC1S3/MARK4 (p=6.5×10−9). We have genotyped these variants in a large (3,287 LOAD, 4,396 controls), independent dataset comprising eleven case-control series from the USA and Europe. We performed meta-analyses of the association of these variants with LOAD and also tested for association using logistic regression adjusted by age-at-diagnosis, sex and APOE ε4 status. Meta-analysis results showed no evidence of series heterogeneity and logistic regression analysis successfully replicated the association of BIN1 (rs744373) with LOAD with an odds ratio (OR=1.17, p=1.1×10−4) comparable to that previously reported (OR=1.15). The variant near EXOC3L2 (rs597668) showed only suggestive association with LOAD (p=0.09) after correcting for the presence of the APOE ε4 allele. Addition of our follow-up data to the results previously reported increased the strength of evidence for association with BIN1 (11,825 LOAD, 32,570 controls, rs744373 Fisher combined p=3.8×10−20). We also tested for epistatic interaction between these variants and APOEε4 as well as with the previously replicated LOAD GWAS genes (CLU: rs11136000, CR1; rs3818361, and PICALM: rs3851179). No significant interactions between these genes were detected. In summary, we provide additional evidence for the variant near BIN1 (rs744373) as a LOAD risk modifier, but our results indicate that the effect of EXOC3L2 independent of APOE ε4 should be studied further.
Alzheimer Disease; Late Onset; Heterogeneity; Meta-Analysis; Case-Control Studies
Although little is known about the etiology of progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), genetic and epigenetic factors, oxidative injury and inflammation are thought to contribute to its development and/or progression. Evidence for activated glia involvement in PSP has raised the possibility that neuroinflammation may contribute to its pathogenesis. To investigate the correlation between neuroinflammation and PSP, a comparative study was conducted on the patterns of cytokine expression in different regions of the brains of PSP, Alzheimer’s disease (AD) patients and normal controls. Our results show different patterns of cytokine expression in each disease, with the expression of IL-1β transcripts being significantly higher in the substantia nigra of PSP than in AD and controls, while AD brains had significantly higher IL-1β expression in the parietal cortex compared to PSP and controls. In addition, expression of TGFβ was significantly higher in the cortical areas (particularly frontal and parietal lobes) of AD compared to PSP and controls. These results show a disease-specific topographical relationship among the expression of certain cytokines (IL-1β and TGFβ), microglial activation and neurodegenerative changes, suggesting that these cytokines may contribute to the pathologic process. If so, the use of cytokine-inhibitors and/or other anti-inflammatory agents may be able to slow disease progression in PSP.
Alzheimer’s disease; brain; cytokines; inflammation; microglia; progressive supranuclear palsy
A clinically and pathologically heterogeneous type of frontotemporal lobar degeneration has abnormal tau pathology in neurons and glia (FTLD-tau). Familial FTLD-tau is usually due to mutations in the tau gene (MAPT). Even FTLD-tau determined by MAPT mutations ha s clinical and pathologic heterogeneity. Tauopathies are subclassified according to the predominant species of tau that accumulates, with respect to alternative splicing of MAPT, with tau proteins containing 3 (3R) or 4 repeats (4R) of ~ 32 amino acids in the microtubule binding domain. In Pick's disease (PiD), 3R tau predominates, whereas 4R tau is characteristic of corticobasal degeneration (CBD) and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). Depending upon the specific mutation in MAPT, familial FTLD-tau can have 3R, 4R or a combination of 3R and 4R tau. PiD is the least common FTLD-tau characterized by neuronal Pick bodies in a stereotypic neuroanatomical distribution. PSP and CBD are more common than PiD and have extensive clinical and pathologic overlap, with no distinctive clinical syndrome or biomarker that permits their differentiation. Diagnosis rests upon postmortem examination of the brain and demonstration of globose tangles, oligodendroglial coiled bodies and tufted astrocytes in PSP or threads, pretangles and astrocytic plaques in CBD. The anatomical distribution of tau pathology determines the clinical presentation of PSP and CBD, as well as PiD. The basis for this selective cortical vulnerability in FTLD-tau is unknown.
corticobasal degeneration; corticobasal syndrome; frontotemporal lobar degeneration – tau; Pick’s disease; progressive supranuclear palsy; Richardson syndrome
Patients with corticobasal degeneration can present with several different clinical syndromes, making ante-mortem diagnosis a challenge. Corticobasal syndrome is the clinical phenotype originally described for corticobasal degeneration, characterized by asymmetric rigidity and apraxia, cortical sensory deficits, dystonia and myoclonus. Some patients do not develop these features, but instead have clinical features consistent with the Richardson syndrome presentation of progressive supranuclear palsy, characterized by postural instability, early unexplained falls, vertical supranuclear gaze palsy, symmetric motor disability and dysphagia. The aim of this study was to identify differences in corticobasal degeneration presenting with corticobasal syndrome (n = 11) or Richardson syndrome (n = 15) with respect to demographic, clinical and neuropathological features. Corticobasal degeneration cases were also compared with patients with pathologically proven progressive supranuclear palsy with Richardson syndrome (n = 15). Cases with corticobasal degeneration, regardless of presentation, shared histopathological and tau biochemical characteristics, but they had differing densities of tau pathology in neuroanatomical regions that correlated with their clinical presentation. In particular, those with corticobasal syndrome had greater tau pathology in the primary motor and somatosensory cortices and putamen, while those with Richardson syndrome had greater tau pathology in limbic and hindbrain structures. Compared with progressive supranuclear palsy, patients with corticobasal degeneration and Richardson syndrome had less neuronal loss in the subthalamic nucleus, but more severe neuronal loss in the medial substantia nigra and greater atrophy of the anterior corpus callosum. Clinically, they had more cognitive impairment and frontal behavioural dysfunction. The results suggest that Richardson syndrome can be a clinicopathological presentation of corticobasal degeneration. Atrophy of anterior corpus callosum may be a potential neuroimaging marker to differentiate corticobasal degeneration from progressive supranuclear palsy in patients with Richardson syndrome.
pathology; immunocytochemistry; progressive supranuclear palsy; tau protein; corticobasal degeneration
Several families have been reported with autosomal dominant frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), genetically linked to chromosome 9p21. Here we report an expansion of a non-coding GGGGCC hexanucleotide repeat in the gene C9ORF72 that is strongly associated with disease in a large FTD/ALS kindred, previously reported to be conclusively linked to chromosome 9p. This same repeat expansion was identified in the majority of our families with a combined FTD/ALS phenotype and TDP-43 based pathology. Analysis of extended clinical series found the C9ORF72 repeat expansion to be the most common genetic abnormality in both familial FTD (11.7%) and familial ALS (22.5%). The repeat expansion leads to the loss of one alternatively spliced C9ORF72 transcript and to formation of nuclear RNA foci, suggesting multiple disease mechanisms. Our findings indicate that repeat expansion in C9ORF72 is a major cause of both FTD and ALS.
Mutations in the gene encoding the RNA-binding protein fused in sarcoma (FUS) can cause familial and sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and rarely frontotemproal dementia (FTD). FUS accumulates in neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions (NCIs) in ALS patients with FUS mutations. FUS is also a major pathologic marker for a group of less common forms of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), which includes atypical FTLD with ubiquitinated inclusions (aFTLD-U), neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease (NIFID) and basophilic inclusion body disease (BIBD). These diseases are now called FUS proteinopathies, because they share this disease marker. It is unknown how FUS mutations cause disease and the role of FUS in FTD-FUS cases, which do not have FUS mutations. In this paper we report the development of somatic brain transgenic (SBT) mice using recombinant adeno-associated virus (rAAV) to investigate how FUS mutations lead to neurodegeneration.
We compared SBT mice expressing wild-type human FUS (FUSWT), and two ALS-linked mutations: FUSR521C and FUSΔ14, which lacks the nuclear localization signal. Both FUS mutants accumulated in the cytoplasm relative to FUSWT. The degree of this shift correlated with the severity of the FUS mutation as reflected by disease onset in humans. Mice expressing the most aggressive mutation, FUSΔ14, recapitulated many aspects of FUS proteinopathies, including insoluble FUS, basophilic and eosiniphilic NCIs, and other pathologic markers, including ubiquitin, p62/SQSTM1, α-internexin, and the poly-adenylate(A)-binding protein 1 (PABP-1). However, TDP-43 did not localize to inclusions.
Our data supports the hypothesis that ALS or FTD-linked FUS mutations cause neurodegeneration by increasing cyotplasmic FUS. Accumulation of FUS in the cytoplasm may retain RNA targets and recruit additional RNA-binding proteins, such as PABP-1, into stress-granule like aggregates that coalesce into permanent inclusions that could negatively affect RNA metabolism. Identification of mutations in other genes that cause ALS/FTD, such as C9ORF72, sentaxin, and angiogenin, lends support to the idea that defective RNA metabolism is a critical pathogenic pathway. The SBT FUS mice described here will provide a valuable platform for dissecting the pathogenic mechanism of FUS mutations, define the relationship between FTD and ALS-FUS, and help identify therapeutic targets that are desperately needed for these devastating neurodegenerative disorders.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Fused in sarcoma proteinopathies; Transgenic mouse models; Adeno-associated virus; Neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions; Ubiquitin; p62/SQSTM1; α-internexin; PABP-1; Stress granules; RNA dysfunction
Hippocampal sclerosis (HpScl) in the elderly is often associated with neurodegeneration.
We studied the clinical and pathologic features of HpScl in 205 consecutive patients with dementia who came to autopsy from 1997 to 2008, focusing on associations with TDP-43 pathology and allelic variants in the progranulin (GRN) and apolipoprotein E (APOE).
Of the 205 dementia patients, 28 had HpScl (14%). TDP-43 pathology was more frequent in cases with HpScl compared to those without HpScl (89% vs. 24%). GRN rs5848 T-allele but not APOE ε4 was associated with HpScl. In cases of HpScl with TDP-43 pathology and age of onset after 75 (n=11), 8 had AD-like amnestic syndrome, but most (6/8) had pathology not consistent with AD (Braak stage III or less), including 4 with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD-TDP), 1 with diffuse Lewy body disease and 1 with “pure HpScl.”
HpScl is common in an elderly cohort with dementia, occurring in 14% of the cases in this series, and 89% have TDP-43 pathology, often associated with a risk variant in GRN. Patients with HpScl who present after age 75 often have presentations consistent with AD, but at autopsy have non-Alzheimer pathologies. Elderly patients with HpScl may be mistaken for AD.
Leucine-rich repeat kinase 2 (LRRK2) is known to harbor highly penetrant mutations linked to familial parkinsonism. However, its full polymorphic variability in relationship to Parkinson’s disease (PD) risk has not been systematically assessed.
We examined the frequency pathogenicity of 121 exonic LRRK2 variants in three ethnic series (Caucasian [N=12,590], Asian [N=2,338] and Arab-Berber [N=612]) consisting of 8,611 patients and 6,929 control subjects from 23 separate sites of the Genetic Epidemiology of Parkinson’s Disease Consortium.
Excluding carriers of previously known pathogenic mutations, new independent risk associations were found for polymorphic variants in Caucasian (p.M1646T, OR: 1.43, 95% CI: 1.15 – 1.78, P=0.0012) and Asian (p.A419V, OR: 2.27, 95% CI: 1.35 – 3.83, P=0.0011) populations. In addition, a protective haplotype was observed at >5% frequency (p.N551K-p.R1398H-p.K1423K) in the Caucasian and Asian series’, with a similar finding in the small Arab-Berber series that requires further study (combined 3-series OR: 0.82, 95% CI: 0.72 – 0.94, P=0.0043). Of the two previously reported Asian risk variants p.G2385R was found to be associated with disease (OR: 1.73, 95% CI: 1.20 – 2.49, P=0.0026) but no association was observed for p.R1628P (OR: 0.62, 95% CI: 0.36 – 1.07, P=0.087). Also in the Arab-Berber series, p.Y2189C showed potential evidence of risk association with PD (OR: 4.48, 95% CI: 1.33 – 15.09, P=0.012). Of note, two variants (p.I1371V and p.T2356I) which have been previously proposed as pathogenic were observed in patient and control subjects at the same frequency.
LRRK2 offers an example where multiple rare and common genetic variants in the same gene have independent effects on disease risk. Lrrk2, and the pathway in which it functions, is important in the etiology and pathogenesis of a greater proportion of patients with PD than previously believed.
The present study and original funding for the GEO-PD Consortium was supported by grants from Michael J. Fox Foundation. Studies at individual sites were supported by a number of funding agencies world-wide.
Parkinson disease; LRRK2; genetics
Alzheimer's disease (AD) can present with non-amnestic clinical syndromes. We investigated whether there is an imaging signature of AD pathology in these atypical subjects. We identified 14 subjects that had pathological AD, a non-amnestic presentation (i.e. atypical AD), and MRI. These subjects were matched to 14 with clinical and pathological AD (i.e. typical AD), 14 with the same non-amnestic presentations with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) pathology, and 20 controls. Voxel-based morphometry and region-of-interest (ROI) analysis were used to assess patterns of grey matter loss. Loss was observed in the temporoparietal cortex in both typical and atypical AD, and showed significantly greater loss than FTLD. However, the medial temporal lobes were more severely affected in typical AD and FTLD compared to atypical AD. A ratio of hippocampal and temporoparietal volumes provided excellent discrimination of atypical AD from FTLD subjects. Temporoparietal atrophy may therefore provide a useful marker of the presence of AD pathology even in subjects with atypical clinical presentations, especially in the context of relative sparing of the hippocampus.
Alzheimer's disease; pathology; voxel-based morphometry; atypical presentation; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; temporoparietal cortex; hippocampus
Neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) have been implicated in mediating neuronal death and disease progression in human tauopathies; however, mounting in vivo data suggest that NFTs may not be the primary initiators of neurotoxicity. Caspase activity has been implicated in processes associated with the development of tauopathy, but the position that caspase activation holds in neurodegenerative cascades remains uncertain. Using multiphoton real time imaging microscopy, de Calignon et al recently demonstrated that caspase activation precedes and leads to tangle formation within 24 hours in the rTg4510 mouse model of tauopathy. Here, we used immunoelectron microscopy to determine whether caspase-cleaved tau was present in NFTs of rTg4510 mice. Using a caspase-cleaved-tau-specific antibody (TauC3), we found very little immunogold labeling in NFTs in the brains of rTg4510 mice. By immunohistochemistry, the number of TauC3-positive neurons was far less than the numbers of neurons stained with the MC1 antibody, which recognizes abnormal conformations of tau. Biochemically, caspase-cleaved tau was barely detectable in fractions of rTg4510 mouse brain extracts. Our data suggest that caspase activation might be one of multiple routes through which NFT formation occurs, rather than an obligatory initiation step in pathological tau production in rTg4510 mice.
Alzheimer disease; Caspase-cleaved tau; Immunoelectron microscopy; Mouse model of tauopathy; Neurofibrillary tangles
Neurofibrillary pathology has a stereotypic progression in Alzheimer's disease (AD) that is encapsulated in the Braak staging scheme. Some AD cases do not fit the Braak staging scheme and are considered atypical. The purpose of this study was to compare clinical and pathological features of typical AD with atypical AD that had either hippocampal sparing (HpSp) and limbic-predominant (LP) neurofibrillary pathology.
A mathematical algorithm was devised to classify AD cases into typical, HpSp and LP according to the density and distribution of neurofibrillary tangle (NFT) counts from thioflavin S fluorescent microscopy in three cortical regions and two Hp sectors. The algorithm was applied to NFT counts of 889 cases of AD (409 men and 480 women; age at death: 37-103 years). Cases so classified were compared on clinical, demographic, pathological and genetic grounds. An independent series of 113 cases of AD were similarly evaluated to validate findings from the initial cohort.
In comparison to typical AD, HpSp (n=97) had higher NFT densities in cortical areas and lower NFT densities in hippocampus, while LP (n=127) had lower NFT densities in cortical areas and higher NFT densities in the Hp. HpSp had less Hp atrophy than typical AD (11%) and LP (14%). HpSp were younger, with a higher proportion of men, whereas LP was older, with a higher proportion of women. MAPT H1H1 genotype was more frequent in LP compared with HpSp, but not between LP and typical AD. APOE ε4 allele status differed among AD subtypes only when age of onset was considered. Clinical presentation, age of onset, disease duration, and rate of decline differed among the AD subtypes. The findings were confirmed in a replication cohort.
Our data supports the hypothesis of distinct clinicopathologic subtypes of AD. HpSp and LP AD account for about 25% of AD and are important to consider in clinical, genetic, biomarker and treatment studies.
Alzheimer disease; APOE; digital microscopy; hippocampus; MAPT; neurofibrillary tangles; thioflavin S fluorescent microscopy
Expanded glutamine repeats of the ataxin-2 (ATXN2) protein cause spinocerebellar ataxia type 2 (SCA2), a rare neurodegenerative disorder. More recent studies have suggested that expanded ATXN2 repeats are a genetic risk factor for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) via an RNA-dependent interaction with TDP-43. Given the phenotypic diversity observed in SCA2 patients, we set out to determine the polymorphic nature of the ATXN2 repeat length across a spectrum of neurodegenerative disorders. In this study, we genotyped the ATXN2 repeat in 3919 neurodegenerative disease patients and 4877 healthy controls and performed logistic regression analysis to determine the association of repeat length with the risk of disease. We confirmed the presence of a significantly higher number of expanded ATXN2 repeat carriers in ALS patients compared with healthy controls (OR = 5.57; P= 0.001; repeat length >30 units). Furthermore, we observed significant association of expanded ATXN2 repeats with the development of progressive supranuclear palsy (OR = 5.83; P= 0.004; repeat length >30 units). Although expanded repeat carriers were also identified in frontotemporal lobar degeneration, Alzheimer's and Parkinson's disease patients, these were not significantly more frequent than in controls. Of note, our study identified a number of healthy control individuals who harbor expanded repeat alleles (31–33 units), which suggests caution should be taken when attributing specific disease phenotypes to these repeat lengths. In conclusion, our findings confirm the role of ATXN2 as an important risk factor for ALS and support the hypothesis that expanded ATXN2 repeats may predispose to other neurodegenerative diseases, including progressive supranuclear palsy.
Hereditary diffuse leukoencephalopathy with spheroids (HDLS) is an autosomal dominantly inherited central nervous system white matter disease with variable clinical presentations including personality and behavioral changes, dementia, depression, parkinsonism, seizures, and others1,2. We combined genome-wide linkage analysis with exome sequencing and identified 14 different mutations affecting the tyrosine kinase domain of the colony stimulating factor receptor 1 (encoded by CSF1R) in 14 families affected by HDLS. In one kindred, the de novo occurrence of the mutation was confirmed. Follow-up sequencing analyses identified an additional CSF1R mutation in a patient clinically diagnosed with corticobasal syndrome (CBS). In vitro, CSF-1 stimulation resulted in the rapid autophosphorylation of selected tyrosine-residues in the kinase domain of wild-type but not mutant CSF1R, suggesting that HDLS may result from a partial loss of CSF1R function. Since CSF1R is a critical mediator of microglial proliferation and differentiation in the brain, our findings suggest an important role for microglial dysfunction in HDLS pathogenesis.
TAR DNA binding protein-43 (TDP-43) immunoreactive neuronal inclusions are detected in 20–30% of Alzheimer disease (AD) brains, but the distribution of this pathology has not been rigorously studied. In this report we describe region-specific distribution and density of TDP-43 positive neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions (NCIs) in clinically demented individuals with high probability AD pathology, all with Braak neurofibrillary tangle stages of V or VI. Sections of hippocampus, amygdala, as well as temporal, frontal and parietal neocortex were analyzed with TDP-43 immunohistochemistry, and the density of NCIs was assessed using a semiquantitative scoring method. Of the 29 cases, 6 had TDP-43 positive NCIs in the amygdala only, and 7 had TDP-43 inclusions restricted to amygdala and hippocampus. In 16 cases TDP-43 immunoreactivity was more widespread, affecting temporal, frontal or parietal neocortex. These findings indicate that medial temporal lobe limbic structures are vulnerable to TDP-43 pathology in advanced AD, and that the amygdala appears to be the most vulnerable region. The distribution of the lesions in this cross-sectional analysis may suggest a progression of TDP-43 pathology in AD, with limbic structures in the medial temporal lobe affected first followed by higher order association cortices.
Amygdala; FTLD-U; FTLD-MND; frontotemporal dementia; motor neuron disease
Pathology underlying behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) is heterogeneous, with the most common pathologies being Pick’s disease (PiD), corticobasal degeneration (CBD), and FTLD-TDP type 1. Clinical features are unhelpful in differentiating these pathologies. We aimed to determine whether imaging atrophy patterns differ across these pathologies in bvFTD subjects. We identified 15 bvFTD subjects that had volumetric MRI during life and autopsy: five with PiD, five CBD and five FTLD-TDP type 1. Voxel-based morphometry was used to assess atrophy patterns in each bvFTD group compared to 20 age and gender-matched controls. All three pathological groups showed grey matter loss in frontal lobes, although specific patterns of atrophy differed across groups: PiD showed widespread loss in frontal lobes with additional involvement of anterior temporal lobes; CBD showed subtle patterns of loss involving posterior lateral and medial superior frontal lobe; FTLD-TDP type 1 showed widespread loss in frontal, temporal and parietal lobes. Greater parietal loss was observed in FTLD-TDP type 1 compared to both other groups, and greater anterior temporal and medial frontal loss was observed in PiD compared to CBD. Imaging patterns of atrophy in bvFTD vary according to pathological diagnosis and may therefore be helpful in predicting these pathologies in bvFTD.
Frontotemporal dementia; behavioral variant; Pick’s disease; corticobasal degeneration; TDP-43; atrophy; voxel-based morphometry; MRI
The current pathological confirmation of the diagnosis of Alzheimer's disease (AD) is still based on postmortem identification of parenchymal amyloid beta (Aβ) plaques, intra-neuronal neurofibrillary tangles, and neuronal loss. The memory deficits that are present in the early stages of AD are linked to the dysfunction of structures in the entorhinal cortex and limbic system, especially the hippocampus and amygdala. Using the CRND8 transgenic mouse model of amyloidosis, which over-expresses a mutant human amyloid precursor protein (APP) gene, we evaluated hippocampus-dependent contextual and amygdala-dependent tone fear conditioned (FC) memory, and investigated the relationship between the fear memory indices and Aβ plaque burden.
Mice were tested at three, six, and 12 months of age, which corresponds to early, mild, and severe Aβ plaque deposition, following a cross-sectional experimental design. We used a delay version of the fear conditioning paradigm in which tone stimulus was co-terminated with foot-shocks during exploration of the training chamber. The Aβ plaque burden was evaluated at each age after the completion of the behavioral tests.
CRDN8 mice showed context fear memory comparable to control mice at three and six months, but were significantly impaired at 12 months of age. In contrast, the tone fear memory was significantly impaired in the model at each age of testing. The Aβ plaque burden significantly increased with age, and was correlated with the overall impairment in context and tone fear memory in the CRND8 mice within the studied age.
Our data extend previous studies showing that other APP mouse models exhibit impairment in fear conditioned memory, by demonstrating that this impairment is progressive and correlates well with an overall increase in Aβ burden. Also, the demonstrated greater sensitivity of the tone conditioning test in the identification of age dependent differences between CRND8 and control mice suggests that this paradigm might be particularly suitable in studies evaluating potential therapeutics related to memory improvement in mouse models of amyloidosis.
Genetic variants that modify brain gene expression may also influence risk for human diseases. We measured expression levels of 24,526 transcripts in brain samples from the cerebellum and temporal cortex of autopsied subjects with Alzheimer's disease (AD, cerebellar n = 197, temporal cortex n = 202) and with other brain pathologies (non–AD, cerebellar n = 177, temporal cortex n = 197). We conducted an expression genome-wide association study (eGWAS) using 213,528 cisSNPs within ±100 kb of the tested transcripts. We identified 2,980 cerebellar cisSNP/transcript level associations (2,596 unique cisSNPs) significant in both ADs and non–ADs (q<0.05, p = 7.70×10−5–1.67×10−82). Of these, 2,089 were also significant in the temporal cortex (p = 1.85×10−5–1.70×10−141). The top cerebellar cisSNPs had 2.4-fold enrichment for human disease-associated variants (p<10−6). We identified novel cisSNP/transcript associations for human disease-associated variants, including progressive supranuclear palsy SLCO1A2/rs11568563, Parkinson's disease (PD) MMRN1/rs6532197, Paget's disease OPTN/rs1561570; and we confirmed others, including PD MAPT/rs242557, systemic lupus erythematosus and ulcerative colitis IRF5/rs4728142, and type 1 diabetes mellitus RPS26/rs1701704. In our eGWAS, there was 2.9–3.3 fold enrichment (p<10−6) of significant cisSNPs with suggestive AD–risk association (p<10−3) in the Alzheimer's Disease Genetics Consortium GWAS. These results demonstrate the significant contributions of genetic factors to human brain gene expression, which are reliably detected across different brain regions and pathologies. The significant enrichment of brain cisSNPs among disease-associated variants advocates gene expression changes as a mechanism for many central nervous system (CNS) and non–CNS diseases. Combined assessment of expression and disease GWAS may provide complementary information in discovery of human disease variants with functional implications. Our findings have implications for the design and interpretation of eGWAS in general and the use of brain expression quantitative trait loci in the study of human disease genetics.
Genetic variants that regulate gene expression levels can also influence human disease risk. Discovery of genomic loci that alter brain gene expression levels (brain expression quantitative trait loci = eQTLs) can be instrumental in the identification of genetic risk underlying both central nervous system (CNS) and non–CNS diseases. To systematically assess the role of brain eQTLs in human disease and to evaluate the influence of brain region and pathology in eQTL mapping, we performed an expression genome-wide association study (eGWAS) in 773 brain samples from the cerebellum and temporal cortex of ∼200 autopsied subjects with Alzheimer's disease (AD) and ∼200 with other brain pathologies (non–AD). We identified ∼3,000 significant associations between cisSNPs near ∼700 genes and their cerebellar transcript levels, which replicate in ADs and non–ADs. More than 2,000 of these associations were reproducible in the temporal cortex. The top cisSNPs are enriched for both CNS and non–CNS disease-associated variants. We identified novel and confirmed previous cisSNP/transcript associations for many disease loci, suggesting gene expression regulation as their mechanism of action. These findings demonstrate the reproducibility of the eQTL approach across different brain regions and pathologies, and advocate the combined use of gene expression and disease GWAS for identification and functional characterization of human disease-associated variants.
Lewy pathology occurs in 8–17% of neurologically-normal people >age 60, termed incidental Lewy body disease, (iLBD). It is often assumed to represent preclinical Parkinson disease (PD). However, some iLBD cases have diffuse pathology inconsistent with preclinical PD. We analyzed iLBD cases (α-synuclein immunohistochemistry) using the Braak PD staging scheme and determined if some had a neuropathological pattern suggestive of preclinical Dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). Of the 235 brains examined, 34 had iLBD (14.5%) and all but one could be assigned a Braak PD stage. The distribution of α-synuclein pathology in the 33 cases fell into three patterns: (1) Diffuse cortical and subcortical α-synuclein pathology; (2) No cortical a-synuclein pathology, but a caudal-to-rostral ascending pattern, primarily involving brainstem; (3) Intermediate between these two categories. Also, 6/33 cases failed to follow the pattern of contiguous spread proposed by Braak. These findings suggest dichotomy in the distribution of iLBD: some cases fit the Braak ascending scheme, conceptually consistent with preclinical PD, whereas others displayed prominent cortical involvement that might represent preclinical DLB.
incidental Lewy body disease; parkinson disease; dementia with Lewy bodies