To determine whether quantitative measure of magnetic resonance imaging data from patients with the inherited leukodystrophy, Pelizaeus–Merzbacher disease (PMD) correlates with clinical severity or progression.
In our current work we have analyzed the clinical phenotypes and MRI scans of 51 male patients with PMD and 10 female carriers for whom the PLP1 genotype had been determined. In addition, we developed a 32-point functional disability scoring (FDS) system for PMD, and validated it for inter-rater reliability. Using conventional T1- and T2-weighted MRI images of the whole brain, we measured white matter and total brain volume (WMV and TBV), inter-caudate ratio (ICR), and corpus callosum area.
There was a significant positive correlation of FDS with white matter fraction (WMV/TBV) and corpus callosum area. Also, when applying a median split based on FDS, patients with lower FDS showed reduced white matter fraction and corpus callosum area, and increased ICR compared to patients with relatively higher FDS, regardless of age.
Although this patient population is heterogeneous, with multiple genetic and molecular mechanisms causing PMD, these data imply that white matter atrophy is a major pathological determinant of the clinical disability in most patients. Development of reliable non-invasive quantitative biomarkers of disease activity would be useful not only for following the natural history of the disease, but also raising the potential for evaluating future therapies.
Proteolipid protein; Pelizaeus–Merzbacher disease; Magnetic resonance imaging; White matter atrophy; Clinical disability; Genetics
Atypical Parkinsonism associated with white matter pathology has been described in cerebrovascular diseases, mitochondrial cytopathies, osmotic demyelinating disorders, leukoencephalopathies including leukodystrophies, and others. Hereditary diffuse leukoencephalopathy with spheroids (HDLS) is an autosomal dominant disorder with symptomatic onset in midlife and death within a few years after symptom onset. Neuroimaging reveals cerebral white matter lesions that are pathologically characterized by non-inflammatory myelin loss, reactive astrocytosis, and axonal spheroids. Most cases are caused by mutations in the colony-stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF1R) gene.
We studied neuropathologically verified HDLS patients with CSF1R mutations to assess Parkinsonian features. Ten families were evaluated with 16 affected individuals. During the course of the illness, all patients had at least some degree of bradykinesia. Fifteen patients had postural instability, and seven had rigidity. Two patients initially presented with Parkinsonian gait and asymmetrical bradykinesia. These two patients and two others exhibited bradykinesia, rigidity, postural instability, and tremor (two with resting) early in the course of the illness. Levodopa/carbidopa therapy in these four patients provided no benefit, and the remaining 12 patients were not treated. The mean age of onset for all patients was about 45 years (range, 18-71) and the mean disease duration was approximately six years (range, 3-11).
We also reviewed HDLS patients published prior to the CSF1R discovery for the presence of Parkinsonian features. Out of 50 patients, 37 had gait impairments, 8 rigidity, 7 bradykinesia, and 5 resting tremor. Our report emphasizes the presence of atypical Parkinsonism in HDLS due to CSF1R mutations.
HDLS; CSF1R mutation; Parkinsonism; Autosomal dominant; White matter disorders
Mutations affecting proteolipid protein 1 (PLP1), the major protein in central nervous system myelin, cause the X-linked leukodystrophy Pelizaeus–Merzbacher disease (PMD). We describe the neuropathologic findings in a series of eight male PMD subjects with confirmed PLP1 mutations, including duplications, complete gene deletion, missense and exon-skipping. While PLP1 mutations have effects on oligodendrocytes that result in mutation-specific degrees of dysmyelination, our findings indicate that there are also unexpected effects in the central nervous system resulting in neuronal loss. Although length-dependent axonal degeneration has been described in PLP1 null mutations, there have been no reports on neuronal degeneration in PMD patients. We now demonstrate widespread neuronal loss in PMD. The patterns of neuronal loss appear to be dependent on the mutation type, suggesting selective vulnerability of neuronal populations that depends on the nature of the PLP1 disturbance. Nigral neurons, which were not affected in patients with either null or severe misfolding mutations, and thalamic neurons appear particularly vulnerable in PLP1 duplication and deletion patients, while hippocampal neuronal loss was prominent in a patient with complete PLP1 gene deletion. All subjects showed cerebellar neuronal loss. The patterns of neuronal involvement may explain some clinical findings, such as ataxia, being more prominent in PMD than in other leukodystrophies. While the precise pathogenetic mechanisms are not known, these observations suggest that defective glial functions contribute to neuronal pathology.
To describe the brain MRI characteristics of hereditary diffuse leukoencephalopathy with spheroids (HDLS) with known mutations in the colony-stimulating factor 1 receptor gene (CSF1R) on chromosome 5.
We reviewed 20 brain MRI scans of 15 patients with autopsy- or biopsy-verified HDLS and CSF1R mutations. We assessed sagittal T1-, axial T1-, T2-, proton density-weighted and axial fluid-attenuated inversion recovery images for distribution of white matter lesions (WMLs), gray matter involvement, and atrophy. We calculated a severity score based on a point system (0−57) for each MRI scan.
Of the patients, 93% (14 of 15) demonstrated localized WMLs with deep and subcortical involvement, whereas one patient revealed generalized WMLs. All WMLs were bilateral but asymmetric and predominantly frontal. Fourteen patients had a rapidly progressive clinical course with an initial MRI mean total severity score of 16.7 points (range 10−33.5). Gray matter pathology and brainstem atrophy were absent, and the corticospinal tracts were involved late in the disease course. There was no enhancement, and there was minimal cerebellar pathology.
Recognition of the typical MRI patterns of HDLS and the use of an MRI severity score might help during the diagnostic evaluation to characterize the natural history and to monitor potential future treatments. Indicators of rapid disease progression were symptomatic disease onset before 45 years, female sex, WMLs extending beyond the frontal regions, a MRI severity score greater than 15 points, and mutation type of deletion.
ATP7A is a P-type ATPase that regulates cellular copper homeostasis by activity at the trans-Golgi network (TGN) and plasma membrane (PM), with the location normally governed by intracellular copper concentration. Defects in ATP7A lead to Menkes disease or its milder variant, occipital horn syndrome or to a newly discovered condition, ATP7A-related distal motor neuropathy (DMN), for which the precise pathophysiology has been obscure. We investigated two ATP7A motor neuropathy mutations (T994I, P1386S) previously associated with abnormal intracellular trafficking. In the patients' fibroblasts, total internal reflection fluorescence microscopy indicated a shift in steady-state equilibrium of ATP7AT994I and ATP7AP1386S, with exaggerated PM localization. Transfection of Hek293T cells and NSC-34 motor neurons with the mutant alleles tagged with the Venus fluorescent protein also revealed excess PM localization. Endocytic retrieval of the mutant alleles from the PM to the TGN was impaired. Immunoprecipitation assays revealed an abnormal interaction between ATP7AT994I and p97/VCP, an ubiquitin-selective chaperone which is mutated in two autosomal dominant forms of motor neuron disease: amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and inclusion body myopathy with early-onset Paget disease and fronto-temporal dementia. Small-interfering RNA (SiRNA) knockdown of p97/VCP corrected ATP7AT994I mislocalization. Flow cytometry documented that non-permeabilized ATP7AP1386S fibroblasts bound a carboxyl-terminal ATP7A antibody, consistent with relocation of the ATP7A di-leucine endocytic retrieval signal to the extracellular surface and partially destabilized insertion of the eighth transmembrane helix. Our findings illuminate the mechanisms underlying ATP7A-related DMN and establish a link between p97/VCP and genetically distinct forms of motor neuron degeneration.
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
Aspartoacylase (ASPA) catalyzes deacetylation of N-acetylaspartate (NAA) to generate acetate and aspartate. Mutations in the gene for ASPA lead to reduced acetate availability in the CNS during development resulting in the fatal leukodystrophy Canavan disease. Highly specific polyclonal antibodies to ASPA were used to examine CNS expression in adult rats. In white matter ASPA expression was associated with oligodendrocyte cell bodies, nuclei and some processes, but showed a dissimilar distribution pattern to myelin basic protein and oligodendrocyte specific protein. Microglia expressed ASPA in all CNS regions examined, as did epiplexus cells of the choroid plexus. Pial and ependymal cells and some endothelial cells were ASPA positive, as were unidentified cellular nuclei throughout the CNS. Astrocytes did not express ASPA in their cytoplasm. In some fiber pathways and nerves, particularly in the brainstem and spinal cord, the axoplasm of many neuronal fibers expressed ASPA, as did some neurons. Acetyl coenzyme A synthase immunoreactivity was also observed in the axoplasm of many of the same fiber pathways and nerves. All ASPA-immunoreactive elements were unstained in brain sections from tremor rats, an ASPA-null mutant. The strong expression of ASPA in oligodendrocyte cell bodies is consistent with a lipogenic role in myelination. Strong ASPA expression in cell nuclei is consistent with a role for NAA-derived acetate in nuclear acetylation reactions, including histone acetylation. Expression of ASPA in microglia may indicate a role in lipid synthesis in these cells, whereas expression in axons suggests that some neurons can both synthesize and catabolize NAA.
ASPA; N-acetylaspartate; NAA; Canavan disease; oligodendrocytes; microglia; leptomeninges; myelin; acetyl coenzyme A; acetyl coenzyme A synthase; protein acetylation; histone acetylation
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.
Huntington disease (HD) is a disorder characterized by chorea, dystonia, bradykinesia, cognitive decline and psychiatric comorbidities. Balance and gait impairments, as well as falls, are common manifestations of the disease. The importance of compensatory rapid stepping to maintain equilibrium in older adults is established, yet little is known of the role of stepping response times (SRTs) in balance control in people with HD. SRTs and commonly-used clinical measures of balance and mobility were evaluated in fourteen symptomatic participants with HD, and nine controls at a university mobility research laboratory. Relative and absolute reliability, as well as minimal detectable change in SRT were quantified in the HD participants. HD participants exhibited slower SRTs and poorer dynamic balance, mobility and motor performance than controls. HD participants also reported lower balance confidence than controls. Deficits in SRT were associated with low balance confidence and impairments on clinical measures of balance, mobility, and motor performance in HD participants. Measures of relative and absolute reliability indicate that SRT is reliable and reproducible across trials in people with HD. A moderately low percent minimal detectable change suggests that SRT appears sensitive to detecting real change in people with HD. SRT is impaired in people with HD and may be a valid and objective marker of disease progression.
Stepping response time; balance; mobility; Huntington disease
The spectrum of mutations (missense, non-sense and splice-site) associated with hereditary spastic paraplegia 4 (HSP-SPG4) (SPG4:OMIM#182601) has suggested that this autosomal dominant disease results from loss of function. Because the protein encoded by SPG4, termed spastin, is a microtubule-severing enzyme, a loss-of-function scenario for the disease suggests that corticospinal axons degenerate due to inadequate microtubule severing resulting from inactivation of one spastin allele. Lending more complexity to the situation, there are two major isoforms of spastin (M1 and M87) translated from two start codons. M87 is widely expressed, while M1 is appreciably detected only in adult spinal cord. Here, we focused on four HSP-associated mutations of the SPG4 gene located outside of the AAA region essential for microtubule severing. We found that none of these mutations affected the enzymatic activity or expression levels of either M1 or M87. Three of the mutations resulted in dominant-negative activity of M1. Surprisingly, the S44L mutation, which is asymptomatic when present heterozygously, conferred dominant-negative activity, while the E112K mutation, which is symptomatic when present heterozygously, did not. Clinical symptoms reported for patients carrying the dominant-negative mutations L195V or 46Stop are not more severe than those reported for patients carrying the non-dominant-negative E112K mutation. These results indicate that there are cases of HSP-SPG4 that cannot be explained by insufficient spastin microtubule-severing activity.
We have studied a family with severe mental retardation characterized by the virtual absence of speech, autism spectrum disorder, epilepsy, late-onset ataxia, weakness and dystonia. Post-mortem examination of two males revealed widespread neuronal loss, with the most striking finding being neuronal and glial tau deposition in a pattern reminiscent of corticobasal degeneration. Electron microscopic examination of isolated tau filaments demonstrated paired helical filaments and ribbon-like structures. Biochemical studies of tau demonstrated a preponderance of 4R tau isoforms. The phenotype was linked to Xq26.3, and further analysis identified an in-frame 9 base pair deletion in the solute carrier family 9, isoform A6 (SLC9A6 gene), which encodes sodium/hydrogen exchanger-6 localized to endosomal vesicles. Sodium/hydrogen exchanger-6 is thought to participate in the targeting of intracellular vesicles and may be involved in recycling synaptic vesicles. The striking tau deposition in our subjects reveals a probable interaction between sodium/proton exchangers and cytoskeletal elements involved in vesicular transport, and raises the possibility that abnormalities of vesicular targeting may play an important role in more common disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease and autism spectrum disorders.
mental retardation; corticobasal degeneration; tau expression; SLC9A6; autism
Highly purified oligodendroglial lineage cells from mice lacking functional bax and bak genes were resistant to apoptosis after in vitro differentiation, indicating an essential role of the intrinsic apoptotic pathway in apoptosis of oligodendrocytes in the absence of neurons (axons) and other glial cells. These mice therefore provide a valuable tool with which to evaluate the significance of the intrinsic apoptotic pathway in regulating the population sizes of oligodendrocytes and oligodendroglial progenitor cells. Quantitative analysis of the optic nerves and the dorsal columns of the spinal cord revealed that the absolute numbers of mature oligodendrocytes immunolabeled for aspartoacylase, and adult glial progenitor cells expressing NG2 chondroitin sulfate proteoglycan, were increased in both white matter tracts of adult bax/bak-deficient mice, and, to a lesser extent, bax-deficient mice, except for no increase in NG2-positive progenitor cells in the dorsal columns of these strains of mutant mice. These increases in mature oligodendrocytes and progenitor cells in bax/bak-deficient mice were unexpectedly proportional to increases in numbers of axons in these white matter tracts, thus retaining the oligodendroglial lineage to axon ratios at most 1.3-fold of the physiological numbers. This contrasts to the prominent expansion in numbers of neural precursor cells in the subventricular zones of these adult mutant mice. Our study indicates that quantitative homeostatic control of the oligodendroglial lineage is distinct from that of neural precursor cells, and that other regulatory mechanism(s), in addition to apoptotic elimination through the intrinsic pathway, prevent the overproduction of highly mitotic oligodendroglial progenitor cells.
apoptosis; Bcl-2-related protein family; differentiation; aspartoacylase; NG2
To investigate whether the variable forms of putative iron deposition seen with susceptibility weighted imaging (SWI) will lead to a set of multiple sclerosis (MS) lesion characteristics different than that seen in conventional MR imaging.
Materials and Methods
Twenty-seven clinically definite MS patients underwent brain scans using magnetic resonance imaging including: pre- and post-contrast T1-weighted, T2-weighted, FLAIR, and SWI at 1.5T, 3T and 4T. MS lesions were identified separately in each imaging sequence. Lesions identified in SWI were re-evaluated for their iron content using the SWI filtered phase images.
There were a variety of new lesion characteristics identified by SWI and these were classified into six types. A total of 75 lesions were seen only with conventional imaging, 143 only with SWI and 204 by both. From the iron quantification measurements, a moderate linear correlation between signal intensity and iron content (phase) was established.
The amount of iron deposition in the brain may serve as a surrogate biomarker for different MS lesion characteristics. SWI showed many lesions missed by conventional methods and six different lesion characteristics. SWI was particularly effective at recognizing the presence of iron in MS lesions and in the basal ganglia and pulvinar thalamus.
multiple sclerosis; iron deposition; susceptibility weighted imaging; phase imaging
Oligodendrocytes are critical for the development of the plasma membrane and cytoskeleton of the axon. In this paper, we show that fast axonal transport is also dependent on the oligodendrocyte. Using a mouse model of hereditary spastic paraplegia type 2 due to a null mutation of the myelin Plp gene, we find a progressive impairment in fast retrograde and anterograde transport. Increased levels of retrograde motor protein subunits are associated with accumulation of membranous organelles distal to nodal complexes. Using cell transplantation, we show categorically that the axonal phenotype is related to the presence of the overlying Plp null myelin. Our data demonstrate a novel role for oligodendrocytes in the local regulation of axonal function and have implications for the axonal loss associated with secondary progressive multiple sclerosis.
proteolipid protein; oligodendrocyte; axonal transport; hereditary spastic paraplegia; axonal degeneration