In this prospective cohort study, we investigated cerebral glucose metabolism reductions on [18F]-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG)-PET in progranulin (GRN) mutation carriers prior to frontotemporal dementia (FTD) onset.
Nine mutation carriers (age 51.5 ± 13.5 years) and 11 noncarriers (age 52.7 ± 9.5 years) from 5 families with FTD due to GRN mutations underwent brain scanning with FDG-PET and MRI and clinical evaluation. Normalized FDG uptake values were calculated with reference to the pons. PET images were analyzed with regions of interest (ROI) and statistical parametric mapping (SPM) approaches.
Compared with noncarriers, GRN mutation carriers had a lowered anterior-to-posterior (AP) ratio of FDG uptake (0.86 ± 0.09 vs 0.92 ± 0.05) and less left-right asymmetry, consistent with an overall pattern of right anterior cerebral hypometabolism. This pattern was observed regardless of whether they were deemed clinically symptomatic no dementia or asymptomatic. Individual ROIs with lowered FDG uptake included right anterior cingulate, insula, and gyrus rectus. SPM analysis supported and extended these findings, demonstrating abnormalities in the right and left medial frontal regions, right insular cortex, right precentral and middle frontal gyri, and right cerebellum. Right AP ratio was correlated with cognitive and clinical scores (modified Mini-Mental State Examination r = 0.74; Functional Rating Scale r = −0.73) but not age and years to estimated onset in mutation carriers.
The frontotemporal lobar degenerative process associated with GRN mutations appears to begin many years prior to the average age at FTD onset (late 50s–early 60s). Right medial and ventral frontal cortex and insula may be affected in this process but the specific regional patterns associated with specific clinical variants remain to be elucidated.
Frontotemporal Degeneration (FTD) is a common cause of dementia for which there are currently no approved therapies. Over the past decade there has been an explosion of knowledge about the biology and clinical features of FTD that has identified a number of promising therapeutic targets as well as animal models in which to develop drugs. The close association of some forms of FTD with neuropathological accumulation of tau protein or increased neuroinflammation due to progranulin protein deficiency suggests that a drug’s success in treating FTD may predict efficacy in more common diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD). A variety of regulatory incentives, clinical features of FTD, such as rapid disease progression, and relatively pure molecular pathology, suggest that there are advantages to developing drugs for FTD as compared to other more common neurodegenerative diseases such as AD. In March 2011, the Frontotemporal Dementia Treatment Study Group (FTSG) sponsored a conference entitled,“ FTD, the Next Therapeutic Frontier,” focused on pre-clinical aspects of FTD drug development. The goal of the meeting was to promote collaborations between academic researchers and biotechnology and pharmaceutical researchers to accelerate the development of new treatments for FTD. Here we report the key findings from the conference, including the rationale for FTD drug development, epidemiological, genetic and neuropathological features of FTD, FTD animal models and how best to use them and examples of successful drug-development collaborations in other neurodegenerative diseases.
Frontotemporal Degeneration (FTD) encompasses a spectrum of related neurodegenerative disorders with behavioral, language and motor phenotypes for which there are currently no effective therapies. This manuscript is the second of two articles that summarize the presentations and discussions that occurred at two symposia in 2011 sponsored by the Frontotemporal Dementia Treatment Study Group (FTSG), a collaborative group of academic and industry researchers that is devoted to developing treatments for FTD. This manuscript discusses the current status of FTD clinical research that is relevant to the conduct of clinical trials and why FTD research may be an attractive pathway for developing therapies for neurodegenerative disorders. The clinical and molecular features of FTD, including rapid disease progression and relatively pure molecular pathology, suggest that there are advantages to developing drugs for FTD as compared to other dementias. FTD qualifies as orphan indication, providing additional advantages for drug development. Two recent sets of consensus diagnostic criteria will facilitate the identification of patients with FTD, and a variety of neuropsychological, functional and behavioral scales have been shown to be sensitive to disease progression. Moreover, quantitative neuroimaging measurements demonstrate progressive brain atrophy in FTD at rates that may surpass Alzheimer's disease (AD). Finally, the similarities between FTD and other neurodegenerative diseases with drug development efforts already underway suggest that FTD researchers will be able to draw upon this experience to create a roadmap for FTD drug development. We conclude that FTD research has reached sufficient maturity to pursue clinical development of specific FTD therapies.
This article reviews measures of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) progression in relation to patient dependence and offers a unifying conceptual framework for dependence in AD. Clinicians typically characterize AD by symptomatic impairments in three domains: cognition, function, and behavior. From a patient’s perspective, changes in these domains, individually and in concert, ultimately lead to increased dependence and loss of autonomy. Examples of dependence in AD range from a need for reminders (early AD) to requiring safety supervision and assistance with basic functions (late AD). Published literature has focused on the clinical domains as somewhat separate constructs and has given limited attention to the concept of patient dependence as a descriptor of AD progression. This article presents the concept of dependence on others for care needs as a potential method for translating the effect of changes in cognition, function, and behavior into a more holistic, transparent description of AD progression.
Alzheimer’s disease; Dementia; Functional impairment; Dependence; Disease progression
Focus Area: Integrative Approaches to Care
Hypertension is one of the most common chronic diseases in our nation, affecting approximately 75 million adults, according to the American Heart Association. Data from the JNC-7 in 2003 demonstrated that about two-thirds of those individuals who are being treated with conventional antihypertensive agents did not have their blood pressure under control. Thus, there is a clear need for a complementary and integrative approach to fill in the gaps left by conventional medicine in the treatment of hypertension. In addition, many patients either cannot tolerate conventional antihypertensive medications or are more interested in trying other types of treatments to help control their blood pressure. There are myriad complementary and integrative approaches used for antihypertensive effects, and it is beneficial for practitioners to be aware of the available options. But beyond simply knowing about the choices they have to help their patients manage their hypertension, it is also important for providers to know what evidence exists for the different modalities in order to help direct their patients to make the best choices for their own overall health.
The poster presentation will address segments on integrative treatment approaches for hypertension that will include (1) acupuncture and traditional Chinese medicine; (2) tobacco cessation; (3) massage therapy; (4) mindfulness meditation; (5) qi gong; and (6) overall lifestyle change—diet, exercise, and supplements. For most of the individual segments, there will be demonstrations of techniques to be done either with the group as a whole or with individual volunteers. The presenter will discuss the available research for each of the treatment modalities as well as the types of patients who might respond well to specific types of treatment.
Focus Areas: Integrative Approaches to Care, Alleviating Pain
Fibromyalgia is a difficult disorder both to diagnose and treat. To complicate this further, patients often present with several co-existing conditions, medical and/or psychological, that may involve a great deal of symptom overlap. Patients often are only moderately if at all responsive to traditional medications and physical therapy modalities. This often leaves patients feeling frustrated, confused, and misunderstood, leading to secondary psychological processes that impact both the pain experience itself and quality of life. Patients often seek CAM therapies as primary treatments regardless of the level of research evidence available. Helping them maintain a sense of hope and selectively directing them to coordinated evidence-based treatments is crucial to their continued healing. This panel will discuss the role of multiple complementary practices, as well as the research basis for each, in the treatment of fibromyalgia. Starting with the role of the integrative physician in evaluation and establishing a treatment protocol and examining the roles of traditional Chinese medicine, chiropractic, massage/energy techniques and health psychology in the long-term process of care. Issues around coordination of care, patient compliance with sometimes overwhelming lifestyle changes, mood shifts, maintaining hope, and continued provider communication around progress and plan changes will be addressed. These topics will also be applied and addressed within a case study format that will involve attendees’ participation.
Frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis are closely related clinical syndromes with overlapping molecular pathogenesis. Several families have been reported with members affected by frontotemporal dementia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or both, which show genetic linkage to a region on chromosome 9p21. Recently, two studies identified the FTD/ALS gene defect on chromosome 9p as an expanded GGGGCC hexanucleotide repeat in a non-coding region of the chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 gene (C9ORF72). In the present study, we provide detailed analysis of the clinical features and neuropathology for 16 unrelated families with frontotemporal dementia caused by the C9ORF72 mutation. All had an autosomal dominant pattern of inheritance. Eight families had a combination of frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis while the other eight had a pure frontotemporal dementia phenotype. Clinical information was available for 30 affected members of the 16 families. There was wide variation in age of onset (mean = 54.3, range = 34–74 years) and disease duration (mean = 5.3, range = 1–16 years). Early diagnoses included behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia (n = 15), progressive non-fluent aphasia (n = 5), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (n = 9) and progressive non-fluent aphasia–amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (n = 1). Heterogeneity in clinical presentation was also common within families. However, there was a tendency for the phenotypes to converge with disease progression; seven subjects had final clinical diagnoses of both frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and all of those with an initial progressive non-fluent aphasia diagnosis subsequently developed significant behavioural abnormalities. Twenty-one affected family members came to autopsy and all were found to have transactive response DNA binding protein with Mr 43 kD (TDP-43) pathology in a wide neuroanatomical distribution. All had involvement of the extramotor neocortex and hippocampus (frontotemporal lobar degeneration-TDP) and all but one case (clinically pure frontotemporal dementia) had involvement of lower motor neurons, characteristic of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. In addition, a consistent and relatively specific pathological finding was the presence of neuronal inclusions in the cerebellar cortex that were ubiquitin/p62-positive but TDP-43-negative. Our findings indicate that the C9ORF72 mutation is a major cause of familial frontotemporal dementia with TDP-43 pathology, that likely accounts for the majority of families with combined frontotemporal dementia/amyotrophic lateral sclerosis presentation, and further support the concept that frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis represent a clinicopathological spectrum of disease with overlapping molecular pathogenesis.
frontotemporal dementia; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; C9ORF72, TDP-43
Protein structures are comprised of modular elements known as domains. These units are used and re-used over and over in nature, and usually serve some particular function in the structure. Thus it is useful to be able to break up a protein of interest into its component domains, prior to similarity searching for example. Numerous computational methods exist for doing so, but most operate only on a single protein chain and many are limited to making a series of cuts to the sequence, while domains can and do span multiple chains.
This study presents a novel clustering-based approach to domain identification, which works equally well on individual chains or entire complexes. The method is simple and fast, taking only a few milliseconds to run, and works by clustering either vectors representing secondary structure elements, or buried alpha-carbon positions, using average-linkage clustering. Each resulting cluster corresponds to a domain of the structure. The method is competitive with others, achieving 70% agreement with SCOP on a large non-redundant data set, and 80% on a set more heavily weighted in multi-domain proteins on which both SCOP and CATH agree.
It is encouraging that a basic method such as this performs nearly as well or better than some far more complex approaches. This suggests that protein domains are indeed for the most part simply compact regions of structure with a higher density of buried contacts within themselves than between each other. By representing the structure as a set of points or vectors in space, it allows us to break free of any artificial limitations that other approaches may depend upon.
Domain assignment; Agglomerative clustering; Average-linkage; Structural domain
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.
The current study tested the accuracy of primary MRI and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarker candidates and neuropsychological tests for predicting the conversion from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to Alzheimer's disease (AD) dementia. In a cross-validation paradigm, predictor models were estimated in the training set of AD (N = 81) and elderly control subjects (N = 101). A combination of CSF t-tau/Aβ1-4 ratio and MRI biomarkers or neuropsychological tests (free recall and trail making test B (TMT-B)) showed the best statistical fit in the AD vs. HC comparison, reaching a classification accuracy of up to 64% when applied to the prediction of MCI conversion (3.3-year observation interval, mean = 2.3 years). However, several single-predictor models showed a predictive accuracy of MCI conversion comparable to that of any multipredictor model. The best single predictors were right entorhinal cortex (prediction accuracy = 68.5% (95% CI (59.5, 77.4))) and TMT-B test (prediction accuracy 64.6% (95% CI (55.5, 73.4%))). In conclusion, short-term conversion to AD is predicted by single marker models to a comparable degree as by multimarker models in amnestic MCI subjects.
Alzheimer's disease; Dementia; Mild cognitive impairment; Mild cognitive impairment (MCI); Autopsy-confirmation; Biomarkers; Early detection; Cerebrospinal fluid; Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF); Aβ1-42; Tau; p-tau; MRI; Hippocampus; Volumetry; Entorhinal cortex; Prodromal; ADNI
The National Institute on Aging and the Alzheimer’s Association charged a workgroup with the task of developing criteria for the symptomatic predementia phase of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), referred to in this article as mild cognitive impairment due to AD. The workgroup developed the following two sets of criteria: (1) core clinical criteria that could be used by healthcare providers without access to advanced imaging techniques or cerebrospinal fluid analysis, and (2) research criteria that could be used in clinical research settings, including clinical trials. The second set of criteria incorporate the use of biomarkers based on imaging and cerebrospinal fluid measures. The final set of criteria for mild cognitive impairment due to AD has four levels of certainty, depending on the presence and nature of the biomarker findings. Considerable work is needed to validate the criteria that use biomarkers and to standardize biomarker analysis for use in community settings.
Mild cognitive impairment; AD dementia; Diagnosis
Frontotemporal dementia-amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FTD-ALS) is a heritable form of FTD, but the gene(s) responsible for the majority of autosomal dominant FTD-ALS cases have yet to be found. Previous studies have identified a region on chromosome 9p that is associated with FTD and ALS.
The authors report the clinical, volumetric MRI, neuropathological and genetic features of a new chromosome 9p-linked FTD-ALS family, VSM-20.
Ten members of family VSM-20 displayed heterogeneous clinical phenotypes of isolated behavioural-variant FTD (bvFTD), ALS or a combination of the two. Parkinsonism was common, with one individual presenting with a corticobasal syndrome. Analysis of structural MRI scans from five affected family members revealed grey- and white-matter loss that was most prominent in the frontal lobes, with mild parietal and occipital lobe atrophy, but less temporal lobe atrophy than in 10 severity-matched sporadic bvFTD cases. Autopsy in three family members showed a consistent and unique subtype of FTLD-TDP pathology. Genome-wide linkage analysis conclusively linked family VSM-20 to a 28.3 cM region between D9S1808 and D9S251 on chromosome 9p, reducing the published minimal linked region to a 3.7 Mb interval. Genomic sequencing and expression analysis failed to identify mutations in the 10 known and predicted genes within this candidate region, suggesting that next-generation sequencing may be needed to determine the mutational mechanism associated with chromosome 9p-linked FTD-ALS.
Family VSM-20 significantly reduces the region linked to FTD-ALS on chromosome 9p. A distinct pattern of brain atrophy and neuropathological findings may help to identify other families with FTD-ALS caused by this genetic abnormality.
To assess the influence of rs5848 polymorphism in serum progranulin (PGRN) level in a cohort of subjects with Alzheimer and related dementias from a tertiary referral clinic.
Mutations in the GRN gene cause autosomal dominant frontotemporal dementia (FTD) with TDP-43 pathology (FTLD-TDP) through haploinsufficiency. It has recently been shown that homozygous carriers of the T-allele of rs5848 have an elevated risk developing FTD, and this polymorphism may play a role in the pathogenesis of other dementia by modifying progranulin level. We hypothesize that genotype of rs5848 may influence serum PGRN level in AD, FTD, and other dementias.
Blood samples were obtained from patients with cognitive impairment and dementia referred to a tertiary dementia clinic, as well as samples from a cohort of healthy controls. Serum PGRN level was measured using an ELISA assay, and rs5848 genotype was determined by a TaqMan assay.
We found that rs5848 SNP significantly influenced serum PGRN level, with TT genotype having the lowest levels, CC the highest. This relationship is observed in each of the subgroups. We also confirmed that GRN mutation carriers had significantly lower serum PGRN levels than all other groups.
The rs5848 polymorphism significantly influences serum PGRN with TT carriers having a lower level of serum PGRN then CT and CC carriers. This is consistent with the finding that miR-659 binding to the high risk T allele of rs5848 may augment translational inhibition of GRN and alter risk of FTD and possibly other dementias.
Frontotemporal Dementia; Progranulin; PGRN; GRN; rs5848; genetic polymorphism; biomarker
The most common inherited form of Fronto-Temporal Lobar Degeneration (FTLD) known stems from Progranulin (GRN) mutation, and exhibits TDP-43 plus ubiquitin aggregates. Despite the causative role of GRN haploinsufficiency in FTLD-TDP, the neurobiology of this secreted glycoprotein is unclear. Here, we examined PGRN binding to the cell surface. PGRN binds to cortical neurons via its C-terminus, and unbiased expression cloning identifies Sortilin (Sort1) as a binding site. Sort1−/− neurons exhibit reduced PGRN binding. In the CNS, Sortilin is expressed by neurons and PGRN is most strongly expressed by activated microglial cells after injury. Sortilin rapidly endocytoses and delivers PGRN to lysosomes. Mice lacking Sortilin have elevations in brain and serum PGRN levels of 2.5- to 5-fold. The 50% PGRN decrease causative in FTLD-TDP cases is mimicked in GRN+/− mice, and is fully normalized by Sort1 ablation. Sortilin-mediated PGRN endocytosis is likely to play a central role in FTLD-TDP pathophysiology.
To evaluate the efficacy and safety of rapidly titrated rivastigmine administered twice (BID) or three times (TID) daily in patients with mild to moderate Alzheimer's disease (AD).
This was a 26 week international, randomised, double blind, placebo controlled study in which 678 patients with probable AD received placebo or rivastigmine 2–12 mg/day BID or TID. Primary outcome measures included the cognitive subscale of the AD Assessment Scale (ADAS‐cog) and categorical analysis of the Clinician Interview Based Impression of Change incorporating caregiver information (CIBIC‐Plus). Secondary outcomes were the CIBIC‐Plus change from baseline, Progressive Deterioration Scale, ADAS‐cogA, Mini‐Mental State Examination and Global Deterioration Scale.
At week 26, mean rivastigmine dose was 9.6 (2.76) mg/day in the TID group and 8.9 (2.93) mg/day in the BID group. Mean ADAS‐cog changes from baseline in the TID and BID rivastigmine treated groups were −0.2 (SD 7.3) and 1.2 (SD 7.2) versus 2.8 (SD 7.2) for the placebo group (p<0.05). Differences between rivastigmine TID and placebo on the CIBIC‐Plus categorical responder analysis were significant (31% vs 19%; p<0.05, intention to treat). No significant differences were seen between BID and placebo for this outcome measure. Adverse events were predominantly gastrointestinal, occurring mainly during dose titration. Withdrawal because of adverse events accounted for 17% of BID, 11% of TID and 9% of placebo patients.
Rivastigmine administered as a BID or TID regimen significantly benefited cognitive, function and global performances in AD patients. The TID regimen showed a tendency for superior tolerability and permitted titration to higher doses, an outcome that is significant as the efficacy of rivastigmine is dose related.
Therapeutic endpoints based on reduced clinical worsening represent clinically relevant and realistic goals for patients suffering from progressive neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer's disease (AD).
Data from 906 patients (388 receiving placebo; 518 receiving donepezil) with mild-to-moderate AD [Mini-Mental State Examination (MMSE) score 10–27] were pooled from 3 randomized, double-blind placebo-controlled studies. Clinical worsening was defined as decline in (1) cognition (MMSE), (2) cognition and global ratings (Clinician's Interview-Based Impression of Change plus Caregiver Input/Gottfries-Bråne-Steen scale) or (3) cognition, global ratings and function (various functional measures).
At week 24, lower percentages of donepezil-treated patients than placebo patients met the criteria for clinical worsening, regardless of the definition. The odds of declining were significantly reduced for donepezil-treated versus placebo patients (p < 0.0001; all definitions). Among patients meeting criteria for clinical worsening, mean declines in MMSE scores were greater for placebo than donepezil-treated patients.
In this population, donepezil treatment was associated with reduced odds of clinical worsening of AD symptoms. Moreover, patients worsening on donepezil were likely to experience less cognitive decline than expected if left untreated. This suggests that AD patients showing clinical worsening on donepezil may still derive benefits compared with placebo/untreated patients.
Donepezil; Alzheimer's disease; Cognition; Global function; Clinical worsening
Heterogeneity is observed in the patterns of cognition in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Such heterogeneity might suggest the involvement of different aetiological pathways or different host responses to pathology.
627 subjects with mild/moderate AD underwent cognitive assessment with the Mini-Mental Status Exam (MMSE) and the Dementia Rating Scale-2 (DRS-2). Latent class analysis (LCA) was performed on cognition subscale data to identify and characterise cognitive subgroups. Clinical, demographic and genetic factors were explored for association with class membership.
LCA suggested the existence of four subgroups; one group with mild and another with severe global impairment across the cognitive domains, one group with primary impairments in attention and construction, and another group with primary deficits in memory and orientation. Education, disease duration, age, APOE ε4 status, gender, presence of grasp reflex, white matter changes and early or prominent visuospatial impairment were all associated with class membership.
Our results support the existence of heterogeneity in patterns of cognitive impairment in AD. Our observation of classes characterised by predominant deficits in attention/construction and memory respectively deserves further exploration as does the association between membership in the attention/construction class and APOE ε4 negative status.
dementia; latent class analysis; cognition; Mattis Dementia Rating Scale-2; Mini-Mental State Examination; apolipoprotein E
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.
Loss-of-function mutations in progranulin (GRN) cause ubiquitin- and TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43)-positive frontotemporal dementia (FTLD-U), a progressive neurodegenerative disease affecting ∼10% of early-onset dementia patients. Here we expand the role of GRN in FTLD-U and demonstrate that a common genetic variant (rs5848), located in the 3′-untranslated region (UTR) of GRN in a binding-site for miR-659, is a major susceptibility factor for FTLD-U. In a series of pathologically confirmed FTLD-U patients without GRN mutations, we show that carriers homozygous for the T-allele of rs5848 have a 3.2-fold increased risk to develop FTLD-U compared with homozygous C-allele carriers (95% CI: 1.50–6.73). We further demonstrate that miR-659 can regulate GRN expression in vitro, with miR-659 binding more efficiently to the high risk T-allele of rs5848 resulting in augmented translational inhibition of GRN. A significant reduction in GRN protein was observed in homozygous T-allele carriers in vivo, through biochemical and immunohistochemical methods, mimicking the effect of heterozygous loss-of-function GRN mutations. In support of these findings, the neuropathology of homozygous rs5848 T-allele carriers frequently resembled the pathological FTLD-U subtype of GRN mutation carriers. We suggest that the expression of GRN is regulated by miRNAs and that common genetic variability in a miRNA binding-site can significantly increase the risk for FTLD-U. Translational regulation by miRNAs may represent a common mechanism underlying complex neurodegenerative disorders.
Dementia can now be accurately diagnosed through clinical evaluation, cognitive screening, basic laboratory evaluation and structural imaging. A large number of ancillary techniques are also available to aid in diagnosis, but their role in the armamentarium of family physicians remains controversial. In this article, we provide physicians with practical guidance on the diagnosis of dementia based on recommendations from the Third Canadian Consensus Conference on the Diagnosis and Treatment of Dementia, held in March 2006.
We developed evidence-based guidelines using systematic literature searches, with specific criteria for study selection and quality assessment, and a clear and transparent decision-making process. We selected studies published from January 1996 to December 2005 that pertained to key diagnostic issues in dementia. We graded the strength of evidence using the criteria of the Canadian Task Force on Preventive Health Care.
Of the 1591 articles we identified on all aspects of dementia diagnosis, 1095 met our inclusion criteria; 620 were deemed to be of good or fair quality. From a synthesis of the evidence in these studies, we made 32 recommendations related to the diagnosis of dementia. There are clinical criteria for diagnosing most forms of dementia. A standard diagnostic evaluation can be performd by family physicians over multiple visits. It involves a clinical history (from patient and caregiver), a physical examination and brief cognitive testing. A list of core laboratory tests is recommended. Structural imaging with computed tomography or magnetic resonance imaging is recommended in selected cases to rule out treatable causes of dementia or to rule in cerebrovascular disease. There is insufficient evidence to recommend routine functional imaging, measurement of biomarkers or neuropsychologic testing.
The diagnosis of dementia remains clinically integrative based on history, physical examination and brief cognitive testing. A number of core laboratory tests are also recommended. Structural neuroimaging is advised in selected cases. Other diagnostic approaches, including functional neuroimaging, neuropsychological testing and measurement of biomarkers, have shown promise but are not yet recommended for routine use by family physicians.
Many cases of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) are familial, often with an autosomal dominant pattern of inheritance. Some are due to a mutation in the tau- encoding gene, on chromosome 17, and show an accumulation of abnormal tau in brain tissue (FTDP-17T). Most of the remaining familial cases do not exhibit tau pathology, but display neuropathology similar to patients with dementia and motor neuron disease, characterized by the presence of ubiquitin-immunoreactive (ub-ir), dystrophic neurites and neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions in the neocortex and hippocampus (FTLD-U). Recently, we described a subset of patients with familial FTD with autopsy-proven FTLD-U pathology and with the additional finding of ub-ir neuronal intranuclear inclusions (NII). NII are a characteristic feature of several other neurodegenerative conditions for which the genetic basis is abnormal expansion of a polyglutamine-encoding trinucleotide repeat region. The genetic basis of familial FTLD-U is currently not known, however the presence of NII suggests that a subset of cases may represent a polyglutamine expansion disease.
We studied DNA and post mortem brain tissue from 5 affected members of 4 different families with NII and one affected individual with familial FTLD-U without NII. Patient DNA was screened for CAA/CAG trinucleotide expansion in a set of candidate genes identified using a genome-wide computational approach. Genes containing CAA/CAG trinucleotide repeats encoding at least five glutamines were examined (n = 63), including the nine genes currently known to be associated with human disease. CAA/CAG tract sizes were compared with published normal values (where available) and with those of healthy controls (n = 94). High-resolution agarose gel electrophoresis was used to measure allele size (number of CAA/CAG repeats). For any alleles estimated to be equal to or larger than the maximum measured in the control population, the CAA/CAG tract length was confirmed by capillary electrophoresis. In addition, immunohistochemistry using a monoclonal antibody that recognizes proteins containing expanded polyglutamines (1C2) was performed on sections of post mortem brain tissue from subjects with NII.
No significant polyglutamine-encoding repeat expansions were identified in the DNA from any of our FTLD-U patients. NII in the FTLD-U cases showed no 1C2 immunoreactivity.
We find no evidence to suggest that autosomal dominant FTLD-U with NII is a polyglutamine expansion disease.
Accurate small molecule binding site information for a protein can facilitate studies in drug docking, drug discovery and function prediction, but small molecule binding site protein sequence annotation is sparse. The Small Molecule Interaction Database (SMID), a database of protein domain-small molecule interactions, was created using structural data from the Protein Data Bank (PDB). More importantly it provides a means to predict small molecule binding sites on proteins with a known or unknown structure and unlike prior approaches, removes large numbers of false positive hits arising from transitive alignment errors, non-biologically significant small molecules and crystallographic conditions that overpredict ion binding sites.
Using a set of co-crystallized protein-small molecule structures as a starting point, SMID interactions were generated by identifying protein domains that bind to small molecules, using NCBI's Reverse Position Specific BLAST (RPS-BLAST) algorithm. SMID records are available for viewing at . The SMID-BLAST tool provides accurate transitive annotation of small-molecule binding sites for proteins not found in the PDB. Given a protein sequence, SMID-BLAST identifies domains using RPS-BLAST and then lists potential small molecule ligands based on SMID records, as well as their aligned binding sites. A heuristic ligand score is calculated based on E-value, ligand residue identity and domain entropy to assign a level of confidence to hits found. SMID-BLAST predictions were validated against a set of 793 experimental small molecule interactions from the PDB, of which 472 (60%) of predicted interactions identically matched the experimental small molecule and of these, 344 had greater than 80% of the binding site residues correctly identified. Further, we estimate that 45% of predictions which were not observed in the PDB validation set may be true positives.
By focusing on protein domain-small molecule interactions, SMID is able to cluster similar interactions and detect subtle binding patterns that would not otherwise be obvious. Using SMID-BLAST, small molecule targets can be predicted for any protein sequence, with the only limitation being that the small molecule must exist in the PDB. Validation results and specific examples within illustrate that SMID-BLAST has a high degree of accuracy in terms of predicting both the small molecule ligand and binding site residue positions for a query protein.
Apolipoprotein E (ApoE) ε4 genotype is a well-established risk factor for Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, its effect on predicting conversion from normal to “cognitive impairment, no dementia” (CIND) and from CIND to AD is less clear.
We used a nested case–control design from the population-based Canadian Study of Health and Aging (CSHA) to examine the effect of ApoE ε4 genotype on the conversion of subjects from normal to CIND and from CIND to AD. We also contrasted these findings with incident cases of AD and vascular dementia (VaD) in the CSHA cohort.
The ApoE ε4 genotype was a significant risk factor for conversion from CIND to AD and from normal to AD and VaD. However, it was not a significant risk factor for conversion from normal to CIND. This effect is robust to adjustment for age, sex and education level. There is significant interaction between the ApoE ε4 genotype and age for AD and for conversion from CIND to AD. No interaction between ApoE ε4 genotype, sex, age, ethnicity and education level was found in other subgroup analyses. The positive predictive value of ApoE ε4 for predicting CIND conversion to AD was 0.48, and the negative predictive value was 0.65.
Possession of an ApoE ε4 allele increases the risk of AD developing from CIND. It is also associated with a decrease in the age at onset of AD. Its predictive values do not support its utility as a diagnostic test for predicting progression from CIND to AD, but it may be useful in research studies to enrich study samples that have a higher rate of progression to AD.