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1.  Systemic and Cerebral Iron Homeostasis in Ferritin Knock-Out Mice 
PLoS ONE  2015;10(1):e0117435.
Ferritin, a 24-mer heteropolymer of heavy (H) and light (L) subunits, is the main cellular iron storage protein and plays a pivotal role in iron homeostasis by modulating free iron levels thus reducing radical-mediated damage. The H subunit has ferroxidase activity (converting Fe(II) to Fe(III)), while the L subunit promotes iron nucleation and increases ferritin stability. Previous studies on the H gene (Fth) in mice have shown that complete inactivation of Fth is lethal during embryonic development, without ability to compensate by the L subunit. In humans, homozygous loss of the L gene (FTL) is associated with generalized seizure and atypical restless leg syndrome, while mutations in FTL cause a form of neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation. Here we generated mice with genetic ablation of the Fth and Ftl genes. As previously reported, homozygous loss of the Fth allele on a wild-type Ftl background was embryonic lethal, whereas knock-out of the Ftl allele (Ftl-/-) led to a significant decrease in the percentage of Ftl-/- newborn mice. Analysis of Ftl-/- mice revealed systemic and brain iron dyshomeostasis, without any noticeable signs of neurodegeneration. Our findings indicate that expression of the H subunit can rescue the loss of the L subunit and that H ferritin homopolymers have the capacity to sequester iron in vivo. We also observed that a single allele expressing the H subunit is not sufficient for survival when both alleles encoding the L subunit are absent, suggesting the need of some degree of complementation between the subunits as well as a dosage effect.
PMCID: PMC4309591  PMID: 25629408
2.  Symptom onset in autosomal dominant Alzheimer disease 
Neurology  2014;83(3):253-260.
To identify factors influencing age at symptom onset and disease course in autosomal dominant Alzheimer disease (ADAD), and develop evidence-based criteria for predicting symptom onset in ADAD.
We have collected individual-level data on ages at symptom onset and death from 387 ADAD pedigrees, compiled from 137 peer-reviewed publications, the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network (DIAN) database, and 2 large kindreds of Colombian (PSEN1 E280A) and Volga German (PSEN2 N141I) ancestry. Our combined dataset includes 3,275 individuals, of whom 1,307 were affected by ADAD with known age at symptom onset. We assessed the relative contributions of several factors in influencing age at onset, including parental age at onset, age at onset by mutation type and family, and APOE genotype and sex. We additionally performed survival analysis using data on symptom onset collected from 183 ADAD mutation carriers followed longitudinally in the DIAN Study.
We report summary statistics on age at onset and disease course for 174 ADAD mutations, and discover strong and highly significant (p < 10−16, r2 > 0.38) correlations between individual age at symptom onset and predicted values based on parental age at onset and mean ages at onset by mutation type and family, which persist after controlling for APOE genotype and sex.
Significant proportions of the observed variance in age at symptom onset in ADAD can be explained by family history and mutation type, providing empirical support for use of these data to estimate onset in clinical research.
PMCID: PMC4117367  PMID: 24928124
3.  Cerebral hypometabolism and grey matter density in MAPT intron 10 +3 mutation carriers 
Multiple systems tauopathy with presenile dementia (MSTD), a form of frontotemporal dementia with parkinsonism-17 with tau inclusions (FTDP-17T), is a neurodegenerative disorder caused by an (a) to (g) transition at position +3 of intron 10 of the microtubule associated protein tau (MAPT) gene. The mutation causes overexpression of 4 repeat (4R) tau isoforms with increased 4R/3R ratio leading to neurodegeneration. Clinically, these patients primarily present with behavioral variant FTD (bvFTD) and show disinhibition, disordered social comportment, and impaired executive function, memory, and speech. While altered glucose metabolism has been reported in subjects with sporadic bvFTD, it has yet to be investigated in an FTDP-17 sample of this size. In this study, eleven mutation carriers (5 males; mean age = 48.0 ± 6.9 years) and eight non-carriers (2 males; mean age = 43.7 ± 12.0 years) from a MSTD family were imaged using [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET). Eight of the MAPT intron 10 +3 mutation carriers met diagnostic criteria for bvFTD at the time of the PET scan, while three MAPT intron 10 +3 carriers were not cognitively impaired at the time of scan. Non-carriers had no clinically-relevant cognitive impairment at the time of the PET scan. Additionally, ten mutation carriers (5 males; mean age = 48.04 ± 2.1 years) and seven non-carriers (2 males; mean age 46.1 ± 4.1 years) underwent magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) which is an expanded sample size from a previous study. Seven MAPT mutation carriers met diagnostic criteria for bvFTD at the time of the MRI scan. Images were assessed on a voxel-wise basis for the effect of mutation carrier status. SPM8 was used for preprocessing and statistical analyses. Compared to non-carriers, MAPT mutation carriers showed lower [18F]FDG uptake bilaterally in the medial temporal lobe, and the parietal and frontal cortices. Anatomical changes were predominantly seen bilaterally in the medial temporal lobe areas which substantially overlapped with the hypometabolism findings. These anatomical and metabolic changes overlap previously described patterns of neurodegeneration in MSTD patients and are consistent with the characteristics of their cognitive dysfunction. These results suggest that neuroimaging can describe the neuropathology associated with this MAPT mutation.
PMCID: PMC4299725  PMID: 25628962
Multiple system tauopathy with presenile dementia (MSTD); frontotemporal dementia with parkinsonism-17 with tau inclusions (FTDP-17T); behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia; [18F]fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography ([18F]FDG PET); microtubule associated protein tau (MAPT); magentic resonance imaging (MRI); neuroimaging
4.  The Tau Tubulin Kinases TTBK1/2 Promote Accumulation of Pathological TDP-43 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(12):e1004803.
Pathological aggregates of phosphorylated TDP-43 characterize amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD-TDP), two devastating groups of neurodegenerative disease. Kinase hyperactivity may be a consistent feature of ALS and FTLD-TDP, as phosphorylated TDP-43 is not observed in the absence of neurodegeneration. By examining changes in TDP-43 phosphorylation state, we have identified kinases controlling TDP-43 phosphorylation in a C. elegans model of ALS. In this kinome-wide survey, we identified homologs of the tau tubulin kinases 1 and 2 (TTBK1 and TTBK2), which were also identified in a prior screen for kinase modifiers of TDP-43 behavioral phenotypes. Using refined methodology, we demonstrate TTBK1 and TTBK2 directly phosphorylate TDP-43 in vitro and promote TDP-43 phosphorylation in mammalian cultured cells. TTBK1/2 overexpression drives phosphorylation and relocalization of TDP-43 from the nucleus to cytoplasmic inclusions reminiscent of neuropathologic changes in disease states. Furthermore, protein levels of TTBK1 and TTBK2 are increased in frontal cortex of FTLD-TDP patients, and TTBK1 and TTBK2 co-localize with TDP-43 inclusions in ALS spinal cord. These kinases may represent attractive targets for therapeutic intervention for TDP-43 proteinopathies such as ALS and FTLD-TDP.
Author Summary
Aggregated proteins are a hallmark of many neurodegenerative diseases. In ALS and FTLD-TDP, these aggregates contain abnormal TDP-43 modified by phosphorylation. Protein phosphorylation normally controls protein activity, stability, or location, but in some neurodegenerative diseases the phosphorylated proteins accumulate in excess. Kinases are the enzymes responsible for protein phosphorylation. We have identified two TDP-43 kinases, TTBK1 and TTBK2, using a novel approach combining reverse genetics and biochemical screening to identify the kinases responsible for changes in TDP-43 phosphorylation. We show TTBK1 and TTBK2 directly phosphorylate TDP-43 in vitro, and control TDP-43 phosphorylation in cellular and simple animal models of ALS. This has uncovered a molecular mechanism by which pathological phosphorylated TDP-43 can occur in disease. To determine whether changes in TTBK1/2 protein are contributing to TDP-43 pathology, we examined diseased brain and spinal cord tissue from patients with ALS or FTLD-TDP. We observed changes in the abundance of TTBK1 and TTBK2 in disease-affected neurons, and the coexistence of TTBK1/2 with phosphorylated TDP-43 aggregates in both FTLD-TDP and ALS. Therefore, increased abundance or activity of TTBK1 or TTBK2 may contribute to the neurodegeneration observed in ALS and FTLD-TDP.
PMCID: PMC4256087  PMID: 25473830
5.  Functional Connectivity in Autosomal Dominant and Late-Onset Alzheimer Disease 
JAMA neurology  2014;71(9):1111-1122.
Autosomal dominant Alzheimer disease (ADAD) is caused by rare genetic mutations in three specific genes, in contrast to late-onset Alzheimer Disease (LOAD), which has a more polygenetic risk profile.
Design, Setting, and Participants
We analyzed functional connectivity in multiple brain resting state networks (RSNs) in a cross-sectional cohort of ADAD (N=79) and LOAD (N=444) human participants using resting state functional connectivity MRI (rs-fcMRI) at multiple international academic sites.
Main Outcomes and Measures
For both types of AD, we quantified and compared functional connectivity changes in RSNs as a function of dementia severity as measured by clinical dementia rating (CDR). In ADAD, we qualitatively investigated functional connectivity changes with respect to estimated years from onset of symptoms within five RSNs.
Functional connectivity decreases with increasing CDR were similar for both LOAD and ADAD in multiple RSNs. Ordinal logistic regression models constructed in each type of AD accurately predicted CDR stage in the other, further demonstrating similarity of functional connectivity loss in each disease type. Among ADAD participants, functional connectivity in multiple RSNs appeared qualitatively lower in asymptomatic mutation carriers near their anticipated age of symptom onset compared to asymptomatic mutation non-carriers.
Conclusions and Relevance
rs-fcMRI changes with progressing AD severity are similar between ADAD and LOAD. Rs-fcMRI may be a useful endpoint for LOAD and ADAD therapy trials. ADAD disease process may be an effective model for LOAD disease process.
PMCID: PMC4240274  PMID: 25069482
Resting-state functional connectivity; autosomal dominant Alzheimer's disease; late-onset Alzheimer's disease; default mode network; apolipoprotein E (APOE)
6.  PARP1 gene variation and microglial activity on [11C]PBR28 PET in older adults at risk for Alzheimer's disease 
Increasing evidence suggests that inflammation is one pathophysio-logical mechanism in Alzheimer's disease (AD). Recent studies have identifiedan association between the poly (ADP-ribose) polymerase 1 (PARP1) gene and AD. This gene encodes a protein that is involved in many biological functions, including DNA repair and chromatin remodeling, and is a mediator of inflammation. Therefore, we performed a targeted genetic association analysis to investigate the relationship between the PARP1 polymorphisms and brain micro-glial activity as indexed by [11C]PBR28 positron emission tomography (PET). Participants were 26 non-Hispanic Caucasians in the Indiana Memory and Aging Study (IMAS). PET data were intensity-normalized by injected dose/total body weight. Average PBR standardized uptake values (SUV) from 6 bilateral regions of interest (thalamus, frontal, parietal, temporal, and cingulate cortices, and whole brain gray matter) were used as endophenotypes. Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) with 20% minor allele frequency that were within +/− 20 kb of the PARP1 gene were included in the analyses. Gene-level association analyses were performed using a dominant genetic model with translocator protein (18-kDa) (TSPO) genotype, age at PET scan, and gender as covariates. Analyses were performed with and without APOE ε4 status as a covariate. Associations with PBR SUVs from thalamus and cingulate were significant at corrected p<0.014 and <0.065, respectively. Subsequent multi-marker analysis with cingulate PBR SUV showed that individuals with the “C” allele at rs6677172 and “A” allele at rs61835377 had higher PBR SUV than individuals without these alleles (corrected P<0.03), and individuals with the “G” allele at rs6677172 and “G” allele at rs61835377 displayed the opposite trend (corrected P<0.065). A previous study with the same cohort showed an inverse relationship between PBR SUV and brain atrophy at a follow-up visit, suggesting possible protective effect of microglial activity against cortical atrophy. Interestingly, all 6 AD and 2 of 3 LMCI participants in the current analysis had one or more copies of the “GG” allele combination, associated with lower cingulate PBR SUV, suggesting that this gene variant warrants further investigation.
PMCID: PMC4224281  PMID: 25383391
7.  Parkinsonian features in hereditary diffuse leukoencephalopathy with spheroids (HDLS) and CSF1R mutations 
Parkinsonism & related disorders  2013;19(10):869-877.
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.
PMCID: PMC3977389  PMID: 23787135
HDLS; CSF1R mutation; Parkinsonism; Autosomal dominant; White matter disorders
8.  Genetic Heterogeneity in Alzheimer Disease and Implications for Treatment Strategies 
Since the original publication describing the illness in 1907, the genetic understanding of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) has advanced such that it is now clear that it is a genetically heterogeneous condition, the subtypes of which may not uniformly respond to a given intervention. It is therefore critical to characterize the clinical and preclinical stages of AD subtypes, including the rare autosomal dominant forms caused by known mutations in the PSEN1, APP, and PSEN2 genes that are being studied in the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network study and its associated secondary prevention trial. Similar efforts are occurring in an extended Colombian family with a PSEN1 mutation, in APOE ε4 homozygotes, and in Down syndrome. Despite commonalities in the mechanisms producing the AD phenotype, there are also differences that reflect specific genetic origins. Treatment modalities should be chosen and trials designed with these differences in mind. Ideally, the varying pathological cascades involved in the different subtypes of AD should be defined so that both areas of overlap and of distinct differences can be taken into account. At the very least, clinical trials should determine the influence of known genetic factors in post hoc analyses.
PMCID: PMC4162987  PMID: 25217249
Alzheimer’s disease; Genetic; Heterogeneity; Presenilin; Amyloid precursor protein; Apolipoprotein E
9.  Genome-Wide Association Meta-analysis of Neuropathologic Features of Alzheimer's Disease and Related Dementias 
PLoS Genetics  2014;10(9):e1004606.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) and related dementias are a major public health challenge and present a therapeutic imperative for which we need additional insight into molecular pathogenesis. We performed a genome-wide association study and analysis of known genetic risk loci for AD dementia using neuropathologic data from 4,914 brain autopsies. Neuropathologic data were used to define clinico-pathologic AD dementia or controls, assess core neuropathologic features of AD (neuritic plaques, NPs; neurofibrillary tangles, NFTs), and evaluate commonly co-morbid neuropathologic changes: cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA), Lewy body disease (LBD), hippocampal sclerosis of the elderly (HS), and vascular brain injury (VBI). Genome-wide significance was observed for clinico-pathologic AD dementia, NPs, NFTs, CAA, and LBD with a number of variants in and around the apolipoprotein E gene (APOE). GalNAc transferase 7 (GALNT7), ATP-Binding Cassette, Sub-Family G (WHITE), Member 1 (ABCG1), and an intergenic region on chromosome 9 were associated with NP score; and Potassium Large Conductance Calcium-Activated Channel, Subfamily M, Beta Member 2 (KCNMB2) was strongly associated with HS. Twelve of the 21 non-APOE genetic risk loci for clinically-defined AD dementia were confirmed in our clinico-pathologic sample: CR1, BIN1, CLU, MS4A6A, PICALM, ABCA7, CD33, PTK2B, SORL1, MEF2C, ZCWPW1, and CASS4 with 9 of these 12 loci showing larger odds ratio in the clinico-pathologic sample. Correlation of effect sizes for risk of AD dementia with effect size for NFTs or NPs showed positive correlation, while those for risk of VBI showed a moderate negative correlation. The other co-morbid neuropathologic features showed only nominal association with the known AD loci. Our results discovered new genetic associations with specific neuropathologic features and aligned known genetic risk for AD dementia with specific neuropathologic changes in the largest brain autopsy study of AD and related dementias.
Author Summary
Alzheimer's disease (AD) and related dementias are a major public health challenge and present a therapeutic imperative for which we need additional insight into molecular pathogenesis. We performed a genome-wide association study (GWAS), as well as an analysis of known genetic risk loci for AD dementia, using data from 4,914 brain autopsies. Genome-wide significance was observed for 7 genes and pathologic features of AD and related diseases. Twelve of the 22 genetic risk loci for clinically-defined AD dementia were confirmed in our pathologic sample. Correlation of effect sizes for risk of AD dementia with effect size for hallmark pathologic features of AD were strongly positive and linear. Our study discovered new genetic associations with specific pathologic features and aligned known genetic risk for AD dementia with specific pathologic changes in a large brain autopsy study of AD and related dementias.
PMCID: PMC4154667  PMID: 25188341
10.  Rapid-onset dystonia-parkinsonism associated with the I758S mutation of the ATP1A3 gene: a neuropathologic and neuroanatomical study of four siblings 
Acta Neuropathologica  2014;128(1):81-98.
Rapid-onset dystonia-parkinsonism (RDP) is a movement disorder associated with mutations in the ATP1A3 gene. Signs and symptoms of RDP commonly occur in adolescence or early adulthood and can be triggered by physical or psychological stress. Mutations in ATP1A3 are also associated with alternating hemiplegia of childhood (AHC). The neuropathologic substrate of these conditions is unknown. The central nervous system of four siblings, three affected by RDP and one asymptomatic, all carrying the I758S mutation in the ATP1A3 gene, was analyzed. This neuropathologic study is the first carried out in ATP1A3 mutation carriers, whether affected by RDP or AHC. Symptoms began in the third decade of life for two subjects and in the fifth for another. The present investigation aimed at identifying, in mutation carriers, anatomical areas potentially affected and contributing to RDP pathogenesis. Comorbid conditions, including cerebrovascular disease and Alzheimer disease, were evident in all subjects. We evaluated areas that may be relevant to RDP separately from those affected by the comorbid conditions. Anatomical areas identified as potential targets of I758S mutation were globus pallidus, subthalamic nucleus, red nucleus, inferior olivary nucleus, cerebellar Purkinje and granule cell layers, and dentate nucleus. Involvement of subcortical white matter tracts was also evident. Furthermore, in the spinal cord, a loss of dorsal column fibers was noted. This study has identified RDP-associated pathology in neuronal populations, which are part of complex motor and sensory loops. Their involvement would cause an interruption of cerebral and cerebellar connections which are essential for maintenance of motor control.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-014-1279-x) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4059967  PMID: 24803225
DYT12; RDP; Rapid-onset dystonia-parkinsonism; Neuropathology
11.  TMEM106B is a genetic modifier of frontotemporal lobar degeneration with C9orf72 hexanucleotide repeat expansions 
Acta neuropathologica  2014;127(3):407-418.
Hexanucleotide repeat expansions in chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9orf72) have recently been linked to frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and may be the most common genetic cause of both neurodegenerative diseases. Genetic variants at TMEM106B influence risk for the most common neuropathological subtype of FTLD, characterized by inclusions of TAR DNA binding protein of 43kDa (FTLD-TDP). Previous reports have shown that TMEM106B is a genetic modifier of FTLD-TDP caused by progranulin (GRN) mutations, with the major (risk) allele of rs1990622 associating with earlier age at onset of disease. Here we report that rs1990622 genotype affects age at death in a single-site discovery cohort of FTLD patients with C9orf72 expansions (n=14), with the major allele correlated with later age at death (p=0.024). We replicate this modifier effect in a 30-site international neuropathological cohort of FTLD-TDP patients with C9orf72 expansions (n=75), again finding that the major allele associates with later age at death (p=0.016), as well as later age at onset (p=0.019). In contrast, TMEM106B genotype does not affect age at onset or death in 241 FTLD-TDP cases negative for GRN mutations or C9orf72 expansions. Thus, TMEM106B is a genetic modifier of FTLD with C9orf72 expansions. Intriguingly, the genotype that confers increased risk for developing FTLD-TDP (major, or T, allele of rs1990622) is associated with later age at onset and death in C9orf72 expansion carriers, providing an example of sign epistasis in human neurodegenerative disease.
PMCID: PMC4003885  PMID: 24442578
TMEM106B; C9orf72; frontotemporal dementia; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; genetic modifier
12.  Globular glial tauopathies (GGT): consensus recommendations 
Acta neuropathologica  2013;126(4):537-544.
Rrecent studies have highlighted a group of 4-repeat (4R) tauopathies that are characterised neuropathologically by widespread, globular glial inclusions (GGIs). Tau immunohistochemistry reveals 4R immunore-active globular oligodendroglial and astrocytic inclusions and the latter are predominantly negative for Gallyas silver staining. These cases are associated with a range of clinical presentations, which correlate with the severity and distribution of underlying tau pathology and neurodegeneration. Their heterogeneous clinicopathological features combined with their rarity and under-recognition have led to cases characterised by GGIs being described in the literature using various and redundant terminologies. In this report, a group of neuropathologists form a consensus on the terminology and classification of cases with GGIs. After studying microscopic images from previously reported cases with suspected GGIs (n = 22), this panel of neuropathologists with extensive experience in the diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases and a documented record of previous experience with at least one case with GGIs, agreed that (1) GGIs were present in all the cases reviewed; (2) the morphology of globular astrocytic inclusions was different to tufted astrocytes and finally that (3) the cases represented a number of different neuropathological subtypes. They also agreed that the different morphological subtypes are likely to be part of a spectrum of a distinct disease entity, for which they recommend that the overarching term globular glial tauopathy (GGT) should be used. Type I cases typically present with frontotemporal dementia, which correlates with the fronto-temporal distribution of pathology. Type II cases are characterised by pyramidal features reflecting motor cortex involvement and corticospinal tract degeneration. Type III cases can present with a combination of frontotemporal dementia and motor neuron disease with fronto-temporal cortex, motor cortex and corticospinal tract being severely affected. extrapyramidal features can be present in Type II and III cases and significant degeneration of the white matter is a feature of all GGT subtypes. Improved detection and classification will be necessary for the establishment of neuropathological and clinical diagnostic research criteria in the future.
PMCID: PMC3914659  PMID: 23995422
13.  A Multicenter Study of Glucocerebrosidase Mutations in Dementia With Lewy Bodies 
JAMA neurology  2013;70(6):10.1001/jamaneurol.2013.1925.
While mutations in glucocerebrosidase (GBA1) are associated with an increased risk for Parkinson disease (PD), it is important to establish whether such mutations are also a common risk factor for other Lewy body disorders.
To establish whether GBA1 mutations are a risk factor for dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB).
We compared genotype data on patients and controls from 11 centers. Data concerning demographics, age at onset, disease duration, and clinical and pathological features were collected when available. We conducted pooled analyses using logistic regression to investigate GBA1 mutation carrier status as predicting DLB or PD with dementia status, using common control subjects as a reference group. Random-effects meta-analyses were conducted to account for additional heterogeneity.
Eleven centers from sites around the world performing genotyping.
Seven hundred twenty-one cases met diagnostic criteria for DLB and 151 had PD with dementia. We compared these cases with 1962 controls from the same centers matched for age, sex, and ethnicity.
Main Outcome Measures
Frequency of GBA1 mutations in cases and controls.
We found a significant association between GBA1 mutation carrier status and DLB, with an odds ratio of 8.28 (95% CI, 4.78–14.88). The odds ratio for PD with dementia was 6.48 (95% CI, 2.53–15.37). The mean age at diagnosis of DLB was earlier in GBA1 mutation carriers than in noncarriers (63.5 vs 68.9 years; P<.001), with higher disease severity scores.
Conclusions and Relevance
Mutations in GBA1 are a significant risk factor for DLB. GBA1 mutations likely play an even larger role in the genetic etiology of DLB than in PD, providing insight into the role of glucocerebrosidase in Lewy body disease.
PMCID: PMC3841974  PMID: 23588557
14.  The pattern of atrophy in familial Alzheimer disease 
Neurology  2013;81(16):1425-1433.
To assess regional patterns of gray and white matter atrophy in familial Alzheimer disease (FAD) mutation carriers.
A total of 192 participants with volumetric T1-weighted MRI, genotyping, and clinical diagnosis were available from the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network. Of these, 69 were presymptomatic mutation carriers, 50 were symptomatic carriers (31 with Clinical Dementia Rating [CDR] = 0.5, 19 with CDR > 0.5), and 73 were noncarriers from the same families. Voxel-based morphometry was used to identify cross-sectional group differences in gray matter and white matter volume.
Significant differences in gray matter (p < 0.05, family-wise error–corrected) were observed between noncarriers and mildly symptomatic (CDR = 0.5) carriers in the thalamus and putamen, as well as in the temporal lobe, precuneus, and cingulate gyrus; the same pattern, but with more extensive changes, was seen in those with CDR > 0.5. Significant white matter differences between noncarriers and symptomatic carriers were observed in the cingulum and fornix; these form input and output connections to the medial temporal lobe, cingulate, and precuneus. No differences between noncarriers and presymptomatic carriers survived correction for multiple comparisons, but there was a trend for decreased gray matter in the thalamus for carriers closer to their estimated age at onset. There were no significant increases of gray or white matter in asymptomatic or symptomatic carriers compared to noncarriers.
Atrophy in FAD is observed early, both in areas commonly associated with sporadic Alzheimer disease and also in the putamen and thalamus, 2 regions associated with early amyloid deposition in FAD mutation carriers.
PMCID: PMC3806583  PMID: 24049139
15.  Developing an international network for Alzheimer research: The Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network 
Clinical investigation  2012;2(10):975-984.
The Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network (DIAN) is a collaborative effort of international Alzheimer disease (AD) centers that are conducting a multifaceted prospective biomarker study in individuals at-risk for autosomal dominant AD (ADAD). DIAN collects comprehensive information and tissue in accordance with standard protocols from asymptomatic and symptomatic ADAD mutation carriers and their non-carrier family members to determine the pathochronology of clinical, cognitive, neuroimaging, and fluid biomarkers of AD. This article describes the structure, implementation, and underlying principles of DIAN, as well as the demographic features of the initial DIAN cohort.
PMCID: PMC3489185  PMID: 23139856
Alzheimer disease; autosomal dominant; biomarkers of Alzheimer disease; PSEN1; PSEN2; APP; amyloid-beta; preclinical Alzheimer disease
16.  Subjects harboring presenilin familial Alzheimer’s disease mutations exhibit diverse white matter biochemistry alterations 
Alzheimer’s disease (AD) dementia impacts all facets of higher order cognitive function and is characterized by the presence of distinctive pathological lesions in the gray matter (GM). The profound alterations in GM structure and function have fostered the view that AD impacts are primarily a consequence of GM damage. However, the white matter (WM) represents about 50% of the cerebrum and this area of the brain is substantially atrophied and profoundly abnormal in both sporadic AD (SAD) and familial AD (FAD). We examined the WM biochemistry by ELISA and Western blot analyses of key proteins in 10 FAD cases harboring mutations in the presenilin genes PSEN1 and PSEN2 as well as in 4 non-demented control (NDC) individuals and 4 subjects with SAD. The molecules examined were direct substrates of PSEN1 such as Notch-1 and amyloid precursor protein (APP). In addition, apolipoproteins, axonal transport molecules, cytoskeletal and structural proteins, neurotrophic factors and synaptic proteins were examined. PSEN-FAD subjects had, on average, higher amounts of WM amyloid-beta (Aβ) peptides compared to SAD, which may play a role in the devastating dysfunction of the brain. However, the PSEN-FAD mutations we examined did not produce uniform increases in the relative proportions of Aβ42 and exhibited substantial variability in total Aβ levels. These observations suggest that neurodegeneration and dementia do not depend solely on enhanced Aβ42 levels. Our data revealed additional complexities in PSEN-FAD individuals. Some direct substrates of γ-secretase, such as Notch, N-cadherin, Erb-B4 and APP, deviated substantially from the NDC group baseline for some, but not all, mutation types. Proteins that were not direct γ-secretase substrates, but play key structural and functional roles in the WM, likewise exhibited varied concentrations in the distinct PSEN mutation backgrounds. Detailing the diverse biochemical pathology spectrum of PSEN mutations may offer valuable insights into dementia progression and the design of effective therapeutic interventions for both SAD and FAD.
PMCID: PMC3783832  PMID: 24093083
Sporadic Alzheimer’s disease; familial Alzheimer’s disease; presenilin; γ-secretase; white matter; gray matter; amyloid precursor protein; amyloid-beta
17.  Screening for C9ORF72 repeat expansion in FTLD 
Neurobiology of aging  2012;33(8):1850.e1-1850.11.
In the present study we aimed to determine the prevalence of C9ORF72 GGGGCC hexanucleotide expansion in our cohort of 53 FTLD patients and 174 neurologically normal controls. We identified the hexanucleotide repeat, in the pathogenic range, in 4 (2 bv-FTD and 2 FTD-ALS) out of 53 patients and one neurologically normal control. Interestingly, two of the C9ORF72 expansion carriers also carried two novel missense mutations in GRN (Y294C) and in PSEN-2 (I146V). Further, one of the C9ORF72 expansion carriers, for whom pathology was available, showed amyloid plaques and tangles in addition to TDP-43 pathology. In summary, our findings suggest that the hexanucleotide expansion is probably associated with ALS, FTD or FTD-ALS and occasional comorbid conditions such as Alzheimer’s disease. These findings are novel and need to be cautiously interpreted and most importantly replicated in larger numbers of samples.
PMCID: PMC3743244  PMID: 22459598
FTLD; bv-FTD; FTD-ALS; C9ORF72; GRN; PSEN-2; Alzheimer’s disease
18.  MRI characteristics and scoring in HDLS due to CSF1R gene mutations 
Neurology  2012;79(6):566-574.
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.
PMCID: PMC3413763  PMID: 22843259
19.  Evidence for a role of the rare p.A152T variant in MAPT in increasing the risk for FTD-spectrum and Alzheimer's diseases 
Coppola, Giovanni | Chinnathambi, Subashchandrabose | Lee, Jason JiYong | Dombroski, Beth A. | Baker, Matt C. | Soto-Ortolaza, Alexandra I. | Lee, Suzee E. | Klein, Eric | Huang, Alden Y. | Sears, Renee | Lane, Jessica R. | Karydas, Anna M. | Kenet, Robert O. | Biernat, Jacek | Wang, Li-San | Cotman, Carl W. | DeCarli, Charles S. | Levey, Allan I. | Ringman, John M. | Mendez, Mario F. | Chui, Helena C. | Le Ber, Isabelle | Brice, Alexis | Lupton, Michelle K. | Preza, Elisavet | Lovestone, Simon | Powell, John | Graff-Radford, Neill | Petersen, Ronald C. | Boeve, Bradley F. | Lippa, Carol F. | Bigio, Eileen H. | Mackenzie, Ian | Finger, Elizabeth | Kertesz, Andrew | Caselli, Richard J. | Gearing, Marla | Juncos, Jorge L. | Ghetti, Bernardino | Spina, Salvatore | Bordelon, Yvette M. | Tourtellotte, Wallace W. | Frosch, Matthew P. | Vonsattel, Jean Paul G. | Zarow, Chris | Beach, Thomas G. | Albin, Roger L. | Lieberman, Andrew P. | Lee, Virginia M. | Trojanowski, John Q. | Van Deerlin, Vivianna M. | Bird, Thomas D. | Galasko, Douglas R. | Masliah, Eliezer | White, Charles L. | Troncoso, Juan C. | Hannequin, Didier | Boxer, Adam L. | Geschwind, Michael D. | Kumar, Satish | Mandelkow, Eva-Maria | Wszolek, Zbigniew K. | Uitti, Ryan J. | Dickson, Dennis W. | Haines, Jonathan L. | Mayeux, Richard | Pericak-Vance, Margaret A. | Farrer, Lindsay A. | Ross, Owen A. | Rademakers, Rosa | Schellenberg, Gerard D. | Miller, Bruce L. | Mandelkow, Eckhard | Geschwind, Daniel H.
Human Molecular Genetics  2012;21(15):3500-3512.
Rare mutations in the gene encoding for tau (MAPT, microtubule-associated protein tau) cause frontotemporal dementia-spectrum (FTD-s) disorders, including FTD, progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) and corticobasal syndrome, and a common extended haplotype spanning across the MAPT locus is associated with increased risk of PSP and Parkinson's disease. We identified a rare tau variant (p.A152T) in a patient with a clinical diagnosis of PSP and assessed its frequency in multiple independent series of patients with neurodegenerative conditions and controls, in a total of 15 369 subjects.
Tau p.A152T significantly increases the risk for both FTD-s (n = 2139, OR = 3.0, CI: 1.6–5.6, P = 0.0005) and Alzheimer's disease (AD) (n = 3345, OR = 2.3, CI: 1.3–4.2, P = 0.004) compared with 9047 controls. Functionally, p.A152T (i) decreases the binding of tau to microtubules and therefore promotes microtubule assembly less efficiently; and (ii) reduces the tendency to form abnormal fibers. However, there is a pronounced increase in the formation of tau oligomers. Importantly, these findings suggest that other regions of the tau protein may be crucial in regulating normal function, as the p.A152 residue is distal to the domains considered responsible for microtubule interactions or aggregation. These data provide both the first genetic evidence and functional studies supporting the role of MAPT p.A152T as a rare risk factor for both FTD-s and AD and the concept that rare variants can increase the risk for relatively common, complex neurodegenerative diseases, but since no clear significance threshold for rare genetic variation has been established, some caution is warranted until the findings are further replicated.
PMCID: PMC3392107  PMID: 22556362
20.  Influence of Genetic Variation on Plasma Protein Levels in Older Adults Using a Multi-Analyte Panel 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(7):e70269.
Proteins, widely studied as potential biomarkers, play important roles in numerous physiological functions and diseases. Genetic variation may modulate corresponding protein levels and point to the role of these variants in disease pathophysiology. Effects of individual single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) within a gene were analyzed for corresponding plasma protein levels using genome-wide association study (GWAS) genotype data and proteomic panel data with 132 quality-controlled analytes from 521 Caucasian participants in the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) cohort. Linear regression analysis detected 112 significant (Bonferroni threshold p = 2.44×10−5) associations between 27 analytes and 112 SNPs. 107 out of these 112 associations were tested in the Indiana Memory and Aging Study (IMAS) cohort for replication and 50 associations were replicated at uncorrected p<0.05 in the same direction of effect as those in the ADNI. We identified multiple novel associations including the association of rs7517126 with plasma complement factor H-related protein 1 (CFHR1) level at p<1.46×10−60, accounting for 40 percent of total variation of the protein level. We serendipitously found the association of rs6677604 with the same protein at p<9.29×10−112. Although these two SNPs were not in the strong linkage disequilibrium, 61 percent of total variation of CFHR1 was accounted for by rs6677604 without additional variation by rs7517126 when both SNPs were tested together. 78 other SNP-protein associations in the ADNI sample exceeded genome-wide significance (5×10−8). Our results confirmed previously identified gene-protein associations for interleukin-6 receptor, chemokine CC-4, angiotensin-converting enzyme, and angiotensinogen, although the direction of effect was reversed in some cases. This study is among the first analyses of gene-protein product relationships integrating multiplex-panel proteomics and targeted genes extracted from a GWAS array. With intensive searches taking place for proteomic biomarkers for many diseases, the role of genetic variation takes on new importance and should be considered in interpretation of proteomic results.
PMCID: PMC3720913  PMID: 23894628
21.  Encephalopathy with Neuroserpin Inclusion Bodies Presenting as Progressive Myoclonus Epilepsy and Associated with a Novel Mutation in the Proteinase Inhibitor 12 Gene 
Neuroserpin encephalopathy is an autosomal-dominant degenerative disease associated with mutations in the Proteinase Inhibitor 12 (PI12) gene. A 26-year-old male presented with progressive myoclonus epilepsy and declining mental status. He had failed in university studies because of impaired attention, memory and concentration. Generalized seizures started to occur approximately once a month, and he developed myoclonus and progressive gait disturbances. Neuroimaging revealed mild atrophy and multiple periventricular white matter lesions, consistent with demyelination. He progressively declined and died at age 34. Neuropathologic examination revealed widespread involvement of the cerebral cortex by numerous round eosinophilic inclusions in neuronal perikarya and neuropil, predominantly within the deep cortical layers. Numerous inclusions were also found in the basal ganglia, thalamus, hippocampus, brain stem, spinal gray matter, and dorsal root ganglia. They were essentially absent from the cerebellum. The inclusions were immunopositive for antibodies raised against neuroserpin. The white matter lesions showed histologic features compatible with multiple sclerosis. Genetic analysis revealed a nucleotide substitution in codon 47 in one allele of the PI12 gene, resulting in a proline for leucine amino acid substitution (L47P). In summary, we report a case of neuroserpin encephalopathy associated with a novel PI12 mutation and complicated by coexistent multiple sclerosis.
PMCID: PMC3709456  PMID: 21435071
dementia; mutation; neurodegeneration; neuroserpin; progressive myoclonus epilepsy; seizures
22.  Common genetic variants in the CLDN2 and PRSS1-PRSS2 loci alter risk for alcohol-related and sporadic pancreatitis 
Whitcomb, David C. | LaRusch, Jessica | Krasinskas, Alyssa M. | Klei, Lambertus | Smith, Jill P. | Brand, Randall E. | Neoptolemos, John P. | Lerch, Markus M. | Tector, Matt | Sandhu, Bimaljit S. | Guda, Nalini M. | Orlichenko, Lidiya | Alkaade, Samer | Amann, Stephen T. | Anderson, Michelle A. | Baillie, John | Banks, Peter A. | Conwell, Darwin | Coté, Gregory A. | Cotton, Peter B. | DiSario, James | Farrer, Lindsay A. | Forsmark, Chris E. | Johnstone, Marianne | Gardner, Timothy B. | Gelrud, Andres | Greenhalf, William | Haines, Jonathan L. | Hartman, Douglas J. | Hawes, Robert A. | Lawrence, Christopher | Lewis, Michele | Mayerle, Julia | Mayeux, Richard | Melhem, Nadine M. | Money, Mary E. | Muniraj, Thiruvengadam | Papachristou, Georgios I. | Pericak-Vance, Margaret A. | Romagnuolo, Joseph | Schellenberg, Gerard D. | Sherman, Stuart | Simon, Peter | Singh, Vijay K. | Slivka, Adam | Stolz, Donna | Sutton, Robert | Weiss, Frank Ulrich | Wilcox, C. Mel | Zarnescu, Narcis Octavian | Wisniewski, Stephen R. | O'Connell, Michael R. | Kienholz, Michelle L. | Roeder, Kathryn | Barmada, M. Michael | Yadav, Dhiraj | Devlin, Bernie | Albert, Marilyn S. | Albin, Roger L. | Apostolova, Liana G. | Arnold, Steven E. | Baldwin, Clinton T. | Barber, Robert | Barnes, Lisa L. | Beach, Thomas G. | Beecham, Gary W. | Beekly, Duane | Bennett, David A. | Bigio, Eileen H. | Bird, Thomas D. | Blacker, Deborah | Boxer, Adam | Burke, James R. | Buxbaum, Joseph D. | Cairns, Nigel J. | Cantwell, Laura B. | Cao, Chuanhai | Carney, Regina M. | Carroll, Steven L. | Chui, Helena C. | Clark, David G. | Cribbs, David H. | Crocco, Elizabeth A. | Cruchaga, Carlos | DeCarli, Charles | Demirci, F. Yesim | Dick, Malcolm | Dickson, Dennis W. | Duara, Ranjan | Ertekin-Taner, Nilufer | Faber, Kelley M. | Fallon, Kenneth B. | Farlow, Martin R. | Ferris, Steven | Foroud, Tatiana M. | Frosch, Matthew P. | Galasko, Douglas R. | Ganguli, Mary | Gearing, Marla | Geschwind, Daniel H. | Ghetti, Bernardino | Gilbert, John R. | Gilman, Sid | Glass, Jonathan D. | Goate, Alison M. | Graff-Radford, Neill R. | Green, Robert C. | Growdon, John H. | Hakonarson, Hakon | Hamilton-Nelson, Kara L. | Hamilton, Ronald L. | Harrell, Lindy E. | Head, Elizabeth | Honig, Lawrence S. | Hulette, Christine M. | Hyman, Bradley T. | Jicha, Gregory A. | Jin, Lee-Way | Jun, Gyungah | Kamboh, M. Ilyas | Karydas, Anna | Kaye, Jeffrey A. | Kim, Ronald | Koo, Edward H. | Kowall, Neil W. | Kramer, Joel H. | Kramer, Patricia | Kukull, Walter A. | LaFerla, Frank M. | Lah, James J. | Leverenz, James B. | Levey, Allan I. | Li, Ge | Lin, Chiao-Feng | Lieberman, Andrew P. | Lopez, Oscar L. | Lunetta, Kathryn L. | Lyketsos, Constantine G. | Mack, Wendy J. | Marson, Daniel C. | Martin, Eden R. | Martiniuk, Frank | Mash, Deborah C. | Masliah, Eliezer | McKee, Ann C. | Mesulam, Marsel | Miller, Bruce L. | Miller, Carol A. | Miller, Joshua W. | Montine, Thomas J. | Morris, John C. | Murrell, Jill R. | Naj, Adam C. | Olichney, John M. | Parisi, Joseph E. | Peskind, Elaine | Petersen, Ronald C. | Pierce, Aimee | Poon, Wayne W. | Potter, Huntington | Quinn, Joseph F. | Raj, Ashok | Raskind, Murray | Reiman, Eric M. | Reisberg, Barry | Reitz, Christiane | Ringman, John M. | Roberson, Erik D. | Rosen, Howard J. | Rosenberg, Roger N. | Sano, Mary | Saykin, Andrew J. | Schneider, Julie A. | Schneider, Lon S. | Seeley, William W. | Smith, Amanda G. | Sonnen, Joshua A. | Spina, Salvatore | Stern, Robert A. | Tanzi, Rudolph E. | Trojanowski, John Q. | Troncoso, Juan C. | Tsuang, Debby W. | Valladares, Otto | Van Deerlin, Vivianna M. | Van Eldik, Linda J. | Vardarajan, Badri N. | Vinters, Harry V. | Vonsattel, Jean Paul | Wang, Li-San | Weintraub, Sandra | Welsh-Bohmer, Kathleen A. | Williamson, Jennifer | Woltjer, Randall L. | Wright, Clinton B. | Younkin, Steven G. | Yu, Chang-En | Yu, Lei
Nature genetics  2012;44(12):1349-1354.
Pancreatitis is a complex, progressively destructive inflammatory disorder. Alcohol was long thought to be the primary causative agent, but genetic contributions have been of interest since the discovery that rare PRSS1, CFTR, and SPINK1 variants were associated with pancreatitis risk. We now report two significant genome-wide associations identified and replicated at PRSS1-PRSS2 (1×10-12) and x-linked CLDN2 (p < 1×10-21) through a two-stage genome-wide study (Stage 1, 676 cases and 4507 controls; Stage 2, 910 cases and 4170 controls). The PRSS1 variant affects susceptibility by altering expression of the primary trypsinogen gene. The CLDN2 risk allele is associated with atypical localization of claudin-2 in pancreatic acinar cells. The homozygous (or hemizygous male) CLDN2 genotype confers the greatest risk, and its alleles interact with alcohol consumption to amplify risk. These results could partially explain the high frequency of alcohol-related pancreatitis in men – male hemizygous frequency is 0.26, female homozygote is 0.07.
PMCID: PMC3510344  PMID: 23143602
23.  Clinical and Biomarker Changes in Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer’s Disease 
The New England journal of medicine  2012;367(9):795-804.
The order and magnitude of pathologic processes in Alzheimer’s disease are not well understood, partly because the disease develops over many years. Autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease has a predictable age at onset and provides an opportunity to determine the sequence and magnitude of pathologic changes that culminate in symptomatic disease.
In this prospective, longitudinal study, we analyzed data from 128 participants who underwent baseline clinical and cognitive assessments, brain imaging, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and blood tests. We used the participant’s age at baseline assessment and the parent’s age at the onset of symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease to calculate the estimated years from expected symptom onset (age of the participant minus parent’s age at symptom onset). We conducted cross-sectional analyses of baseline data in relation to estimated years from expected symptom onset in order to determine the relative order and magnitude of pathophysiological changes.
Concentrations of amyloid-beta (Aβ)42 in the CSF appeared to decline 25 years before expected symptom onset. Aβ deposition, as measured by positron-emission tomography with the use of Pittsburgh compound B, was detected 15 years before expected symptom onset. Increased concentrations of tau protein in the CSF and an increase in brain atrophy were detected 15 years before expected symptom onset. Cerebral hypometabolism and impaired episodic memory were observed 10 years before expected symptom onset. Global cognitive impairment, as measured by the Mini–Mental State Examination and the Clinical Dementia Rating scale, was detected 5 years before expected symptom onset, and patients met diagnostic criteria for dementia at an average of 3 years after expected symptom onset.
We found that autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease was associated with a series of pathophysiological changes over decades in CSF biochemical markers of Alzheimer’s disease, brain amyloid deposition, and brain metabolism as well as progressive cognitive impairment. Our results require confirmation with the use of longitudinal data and may not apply to patients with sporadic Alzheimer’s disease. (Funded by the National Institute on Aging and others; DIAN number, NCT00869817.)
PMCID: PMC3474597  PMID: 22784036
24.  Increased Tau Phosphorylation and Tau Truncation, and Decreased Synaptophysin Levels in Mutant BRI2/Tau Transgenic Mice 
PLoS ONE  2013;8(2):e56426.
Familial Danish dementia (FDD) is an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disease caused by a 10-nucleotide duplication-insertion in the BRI2 gene. FDD is clinically characterized by loss of vision, hearing impairment, cerebellar ataxia and dementia. The main neuropathologic findings in FDD are the deposition of Danish amyloid (ADan) and the presence of neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs). Here we investigated tau accumulation and truncation in double transgenic (Tg-FDD-Tau) mice generated by crossing transgenic mice expressing human Danish mutant BRI2 (Tg-FDD) with mice expressing human 4-repeat mutant Tau-P301S (Tg-Tau). Compared to Tg-Tau mice, we observed a significant enhancement of tau deposition in Tg-FDD-Tau mice. In addition, a significant increase in tau cleaved at aspartic acid (Asp) 421 was observed in Tg-FDD-Tau mice. Tg-FDD-Tau mice also showed a significant decrease in synaptophysin levels, occurring before widespread deposition of fibrillar ADan and tau can be observed. Thus, the presence of soluble ADan/mutant BRI2 can lead to significant changes in tau metabolism and synaptic dysfunction. Our data provide new in vivo insights into the pathogenesis of FDD and the pathogenic pathway(s) by which amyloidogenic peptides, regardless of their primary amino acid sequence, can cause neurodegeneration.
PMCID: PMC3572042  PMID: 23418567
25.  Mechanism of PrP-amyloid formation in mice without transmissible spongiform encephalopathy 
Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker (GSS) P102L disease is a familial form of a transmissible spongiform encephalopathy (TSE) that can present with or without vacuolation of neuropil. Inefficient disease transmission into 101LL transgenic mice was previously observed from GSS P102L without vacuolation. However several aged, healthy mice had large plaques composed of abnormal prion protein (PrPd). Here we perform the ultrastructural characterisation of such plaques and compare them with PrPd aggregates found in TSE caused by an infectious mechanism. PrPd plaques in 101LL mice varied in maturity with some being composed of deposits without visible amyloid fibrils. PrPd was present on cell membranes in the vicinity of all types of plaques. In contrast to the unicentric plaques seen in infectious murine scrapie the plaques seen in the current model were multi-centric and were initiated by proto-fibrillar forms of PrPd situated on oligodendroglia, astrocytes and neuritic cell membranes. We speculate that the initial conversion process leading to plaque formation begins with membrane-bound PrPC but that subsequent fibrillisation does not require membrane attachment. We also observed that the membrane alterations consistently seen in murine scrapie and other infectious TSEs were not observed in 101LL mice with plaques suggesting differences in the pathogenesis of these conditions.
PMCID: PMC3182302  PMID: 21645162
amyloid plaques; prion protein; neurodegeneration; scrapie; Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker

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