The order and magnitude of pathologic processes in Alzheimer’s disease are not well understood, partly because the disease develops over many years. Autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease has a predictable age at onset and provides an opportunity to determine the sequence and magnitude of pathologic changes that culminate in symptomatic disease.
In this prospective, longitudinal study, we analyzed data from 128 participants who underwent baseline clinical and cognitive assessments, brain imaging, and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and blood tests. We used the participant’s age at baseline assessment and the parent’s age at the onset of symptoms of Alzheimer’s disease to calculate the estimated years from expected symptom onset (age of the participant minus parent’s age at symptom onset). We conducted cross-sectional analyses of baseline data in relation to estimated years from expected symptom onset in order to determine the relative order and magnitude of pathophysiological changes.
Concentrations of amyloid-beta (Aβ)42 in the CSF appeared to decline 25 years before expected symptom onset. Aβ deposition, as measured by positron-emission tomography with the use of Pittsburgh compound B, was detected 15 years before expected symptom onset. Increased concentrations of tau protein in the CSF and an increase in brain atrophy were detected 15 years before expected symptom onset. Cerebral hypometabolism and impaired episodic memory were observed 10 years before expected symptom onset. Global cognitive impairment, as measured by the Mini–Mental State Examination and the Clinical Dementia Rating scale, was detected 5 years before expected symptom onset, and patients met diagnostic criteria for dementia at an average of 3 years after expected symptom onset.
We found that autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease was associated with a series of pathophysiological changes over decades in CSF biochemical markers of Alzheimer’s disease, brain amyloid deposition, and brain metabolism as well as progressive cognitive impairment. Our results require confirmation with the use of longitudinal data and may not apply to patients with sporadic Alzheimer’s disease. (Funded by the National Institute on Aging and others; DIAN ClinicalTrials.gov number, NCT00869817.)
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.
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.
amyloid plaques; prion protein; neurodegeneration; scrapie; Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker
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.
Nine families with autosomal dominant Alzheimer’s disease (AD), all of whom had the Ala431Glu substitution in the PSEN1 gene and came from Jalisco State in Mexico, have been previously reported. As they shared highly polymorphic flanking dinucleotide marker alleles, this strongly suggests that this mutation arose from a common founder. In the current letter, we expand this observation by describing an additional 15 independent families with the Ala431Glu substitution in the PSEN1 gene and conclude that this mutation is not an uncommon cause of early-onset autosomal dominant AD in persons of Mexican origin.
Presenilin-1; Mexican; Founder effect; A431E; Ala431Glu; Alzheimer’s disease
Spanish-language screening tests that are sensitive to the early cognitive changes of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are needed. Persons known to be at 50% risk for young-onset AD due to presenilin-1 (PSEN1) mutations provide the opportunity to assess which measures on the Mini-mental State Examination (MMSE) are most sensitive to these early changes.
We performed genetic and Spanish-language cognitive testing on 50 Mexican persons without dementia at risk for inheriting PSEN1 mutations. We then compared the performance on sub-items of the MMSE between PSEN1 mutation carriers (MCs) and non-carriers (NCs) using t-tests and Fisher’s exact tests. Exploratory multiple logistic regression analyses were also performed.
Twenty-nine persons were MCs and 21 NCs. NCs tended to achieve higher levels of education (p = 0.039) than did MCs. MCs tended to perform more poorly when spelling “MUNDO” backwards and on Orientation, particularly regarding the date. In multiple regression analyses the ability of backwards spelling to predict PSEN1 mutation status was reduced when education was included as an independent variable.
Subjects in the earliest stage of PSEN1-related AD showed deficits on orientation to date and in divided attention when spelling backwards. It is unclear if educational level should be considered an associated feature or a confounding variable in this population although it should be taken into account when considering performance on the MMSE task of divided attention. The relative lack of deficits on delayed recall of three words probably represents the insensitivity of this measure in early AD. This study supports the utility of autosomal dominant AD as a model of the more common sporadic form of the disorder.
Alzheimer’s disease; presenilin; cognition; preclinical; Mini-mental State Examination; screening test; Spanish; education
Recent findings, showing the presence of an inflammatory process in the brain of transgenic mice expressing P301S mutated human tau protein, indicate that neuroinflammation may contribute to tau-related degeneration in frontotemporal dementia and parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17 with tau mutations (FTDP-17T). Objective: To investigate the occurrence of neuroinflammatory changes in the brain of a patient affected by FTDP-17T associated with the P301S mutation and showing a frontotemporal dementia phenotype as well as in the brain of a patient affected by another FTDP-17T phenotype: multiple system tauopathy with presenile dementia.
We used immunohistochemical methods to visualize activated microglia, interleukin-1b (IL-1b)-, cyclooxygenase-2 (COX-2)-expressing cells.
In the brain of the patient with the P301S mutation, a strong neuroinflammatory reaction was present. Activated microglia/infiltrating macrophages expressing the cluster of differentiation 68 and major histocampatibility complex class II cell surface receptors, encoded by the human leukocyte antigen DP-DQ-DR, were detected in the cortex and hippocampus. IL-1b and COX-2 expression were induced in neuronal and glial cells. These neuroinflammatory changes were different from those observed in the brain of the patient bearing the +3 mutation, where macrophage infiltration was absent, microglial cells displayed an earlier stage of activation and COX-2 was not detected.
Our findings suggest that microglial activation and the production of proinflammatory mediators by phospho-tau-positive neurons and glial cells may differentially contribute to neuronal death and disease progression in neurodegenerative tauopathies.
Frontotemporal dementia and parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17 with tau mutations; Neuroinflammation; Microglia; Interleukin 1b; Cyclooxygenase 2
To describe the Alzheimer disease (AD)-like clinical and pathological features, including marked neurofibrillary tangle (NFT) pathology, of a familial prion disease due to a rare nonsense mutation of the prion gene (PRNP).
Longitudinal clinical assessments were available for the proband and her mother. After death, both underwent neuropathological evaluation. PRNP was sequenced after failure to find immunopositive Aβ deposits in the proband and the documentation of prion protein (PrP) immunopositive pathology.
The proband presented at age 42 years with a 3-year history of progressive short-term memory impairment and depression. Neuropsychological testing found impaired memory performance, with relatively preserved attention and construction. She was diagnosed with AD and died at age 47 years. Neuropathologic evaluation revealed extensive limbic and neocortical NFT formation and neuritic plaques consistent with a Braak stage of VI. The NFTs were immunopositive, with multiple tau antibodies, and electron microscopy revealed paired helical filaments. However, the neuritic plaques were immunonegative for Aβ, whereas immunostaining for PrP was positive. The mother of the proband had a similar presentation, including depression, and had been diagnosed clinically and pathologically as AD. Reevaluation of her brain tissue confirmed similar tau and PrP immunostaining findings. Genetic analysis revealed that both the proband and her mother had a rare PRNP mutation (Q160X) that resulted in the production of truncated PrP.
We suggest that PRNP mutations that result in a truncation of PrP lead to a prolonged clinical course consistent with a clinical diagnosis of AD and severe AD-like NFTs.
To assess the relative frequency of unique mutations and their associated characteristics in 97 individuals with mutations in progranulin (GRN), an important cause of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD).
Participants and Design
A 46-site International Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration Collaboration was formed to collect cases of FTLD with TAR DNA-binding protein of 43-kDa (TDP-43)–positive inclusions (FTLD-TDP). We identified 97 individuals with FTLD-TDP with pathogenic GRN mutations (GRN+ FTLD-TDP), assessed their genetic and clinical characteristics, and compared them with 453 patients with FTLD-TDP in which GRN mutations were excluded (GRN− FTLD-TDP). No patients were known to be related. Neuropathologic characteristics were confirmed as FTLD-TDP in 79 of the 97 GRN+ FTLDTDP cases and all of the GRN− FTLD-TDP cases.
Age at onset of FTLD was younger in patients with GRN+ FTLD-TDP vs GRN− FTLD-TDP (median, 58.0 vs 61.0 years; P<.001), as was age at death (median, 65.5 vs 69.0 years; P<.001). Concomitant motor neuron disease was much less common in GRN+ FTLDTDP vs GRN− FTLD-TDP (5.4% vs 26.3%; P<.001). Fifty different GRN mutations were observed, including 2 novel mutations: c.139delG (p.D47TfsX7) and c.378C>A (p.C126X). The 2 most common GRN mutations were c.1477C>T (p.R493X, found in 18 patients, representing 18.6% of GRN cases) and c.26C>A (p.A9D, found in 6 patients, representing 6.2% of cases). Patients with the c.1477C>T mutation shared a haplotype on chromosome 17; clinically, they resembled patients with other GRN mutations. Patients with the c.26C>A mutation appeared to have a younger age at onset of FTLD and at death and more parkinsonian features than those with other GRN mutations.
GRN+ FTLD-TDP differs in key features from GRN− FTLD-TDP.
Gerstmann-Sträussler-Scheinker (GSS) disease is a dominantly inherited prion disease associated with point mutations in the Prion Protein gene. The most frequent mutation associated with GSS involves a proline-to-leucine substitution at residue 102 of the prion protein, and is characterized by marked variability at clinical, pathological and molecular levels. Previous investigations of GSS P102L have shown that disease-associated pathological prion protein, or PrPSc, consists of two main conformers, which under exogenous proteolysis generates a core fragment of 21 kDa and an internal fragment of 8 kDa. Both conformers are detected in subjects with spongiform degeneration, whereas only the 8 kDa fragment is recovered in cases lacking spongiosis. Several studies have reported an exclusive derivation of protease-resistant PrPSc isoforms from the mutated allele; however, more recently, the propagation of protease-resistant wild-type PrPSc has been described. Here we analyze the molecular and pathological phenotype of six GSS P102L cases characterized by the presence of 21 and 8 kDa PrP fragments and two subjects with only the 8 kDa PrP fragment. Using sensitive protein separation techniques and Western blots with antibodies differentially recognizing wild-type and mutant PrP we observed a range of PrPSc allelic conformers, either resistant or sensitive to protease treatment in all investigated subjects. Additionally, tissue deposition of protease-sensitive wild-type PrPSc molecules was seen by conventional PrP immunohistochemistry and paraffin-embedded tissue blot. Our findings enlarge the spectrum of conformational allelic PrPSc quasispecies propagating in GSS P102L thus providing a molecular support to the spectrum of disease phenotypes, and, in addition, impact the diagnostic role of PrP immunohistochemistry in prion diseases.
Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) comprises a group of behavioral, language, and movement disorders. On the basis of the nature of the characteristic protein inclusions, frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) can be subdivided into the common FTLD-tau and FTLD-TDP as well as the less common FTLD-FUS and FTLD-UPS. Approximately 10% of cases of FTD are inherited in an autosomal-dominant manner. Mutations in seven genes cause FTD, with those in tau (MAPT), chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9ORF72), and progranulin (GRN) being the most common. Mutations in MAPT give rise to FTLD-tau and mutations in C9ORF72 and GRN to FTLD-TDP. The other four genes are transactive response–DNA binding protein-43 (TARDBP), fused in sarcoma (FUS), valosin-containing protein (VCP), and charged multivesicular body protein 2B (CHMP2B). Mutations in TARDBP and VCP give rise to FTLD-TDP, mutations in FUS to FTLD-FUS, and mutations in CHMP2B to FTLD-UPS. The discovery that mutations in MAPT cause neurodegeneration and dementia has important implications for understanding Alzheimer disease.
Mutations in the tau (MAPT) gene account for ∼5% of frontotemporal dementia cases. They give rise to characteristic protein inclusions, providing insight into tau pathology in Alzheimer disease.
Six clinico-pathological phenotypes of sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease have been characterized which correlate at the molecular level with the type (1 or 2) of the abnormal prion protein, PrPTSE, present in the brain and with the genotype of polymorphic (methionine or valine) codon 129 of the prion protein gene. However, to what extent these phenotypes with their corresponding molecular combinations (i.e. MM1, MM2, VV1 etc.) encipher distinct prion strains upon transmission remains uncertain. We studied the PrPTSE type and the prion protein gene in archival brain tissues from the National Institutes of Health series of transmitted Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease and kuru cases, and characterized the molecular and pathological phenotype in the affected non-human primates, including squirrel, spider, capuchin and African green monkeys. We found that the transmission properties of prions from the common sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease MM1 phenotype are homogeneous and significantly differ from those of sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease VV2 or MV2 prions. Animals injected with iatrogenic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease MM1 and genetic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease MM1 linked to the E200K mutation showed the same phenotypic features as those infected with sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease MM1 prions, whereas kuru most closely resembled the sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease VV2 or MV2 prion signature and neuropathology. The findings indicate that two distinct prion strains are linked to the three most common Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease clinico-pathological and molecular subtypes and kuru, and suggest that kuru may have originated from cannibalistic transmission of a sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease of the VV2 or MV2 subtype.
prion diseases; neuropathology; neurodegenerative disorders; phenotype; strain typing
The pre-synaptic protein α-synuclein is the main component of Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites, the defining neuropathological characteristics of Parkinson’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies. Mutations in the α-synuclein gene cause familial forms of Parkinson’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies. We previously described a transgenic mouse line expressing truncated human α-synuclein(1-120) that develops α-synuclein aggregates, striatal dopamine deficiency and reduced locomotion, similar to Parkinson’s disease. We now show that in the striatum of these mice, as in Parkinson’s disease, synaptic accumulation of α-synuclein is accompanied by an age-dependent redistribution of the synaptic SNARE proteins SNAP-25, syntaxin-1 and synaptobrevin-2, as well as by an age-dependent reduction in dopamine release. Furthermore, the release of FM1-43 dye from PC12 cells expressing either human full-length α-synuclein(1–140) or truncated α-synuclein(1-120) was reduced. These findings reveal a novel gain of toxic function of α-synuclein at the synapse, which may be an early event in the pathogenesis of Parkinson’s disease.
SNARE proteins; Parkinson’s disease; alpha-synuclein; dopamine; neurodegenerative diseases
We previously demonstrated the activation of Caspase-6 in the hippocampus and cortex in cases of mild, moderate, severe and very severe Alzheimer disease (AD). To determine whether Caspase-6 is also activated in familial AD, we performed an immunohistochemical analysis of active Caspase-6 and Tau cleaved by Caspase-6 in temporal cortex and hippocampal tissue sections from cases of familial AD. The cases included 5 carrying the amyloid precursor protein K670N, M671L Swedish mutation, 1 carrying the amyloid precursor protein E693G Arctic mutation, 2 each carrying the Presenilin I M146V, F105L, A431E, V261F, Y115C mutations, and 1 with the Presenilin II N141I mutation. Active Caspase-6 immunoreactivity was found in all cases. Caspase-6 immunoreactivity was observed in neuritic plaques or cotton wool plaques in some cases, neuropil threads and neurofibrillary tangles. These results indicate that Caspase-6 is activated in familial forms of AD, as previously observed in sporadic forms. Since sporadic and familial AD cases have similar pathological features, these results support a fundamental role of Caspase-6 in the pathophysiology of both familial and sporadic AD.
Alzheimer disease; Arctic mutation; Casp6; Familial Alzheimer disease; Presenilin I mutation; Sporadic Alzheimer disease; Swedish mutation; Tau cleaved by Casp6
Late-onset Alzheimer's disease (LOAD) is the most common form of dementia in the elderly. The National Institute of Aging-Late Onset Alzheimer's Disease Family Study and the National Cell Repository for Alzheimer's Disease conducted a joint genome-wide association study (GWAS) of multiplex LOAD families (3,839 affected and unaffected individuals from 992 families plus additional unrelated neurologically evaluated normal subjects) using the 610 IlluminaQuad panel. This cohort represents the largest family-based GWAS of LOAD to date, with analyses limited here to the European-American subjects. SNPs near APOE gave highly significant results (e.g., rs2075650, p = 3.2×10−81), but no other genome-wide significant evidence for association was obtained in the full sample. Analyses that stratified on APOE genotypes identified SNPs on chromosome 10p14 in CUGBP2 with genome-wide significant evidence for association within APOE ε4 homozygotes (e.g., rs201119, p = 1.5×10−8). Association in this gene was replicated in an independent sample consisting of three cohorts. There was evidence of association for recently-reported LOAD risk loci, including BIN1 (rs7561528, p = 0.009 with, and p = 0.03 without, APOE adjustment) and CLU (rs11136000, p = 0.023 with, and p = 0.008 without, APOE adjustment), with weaker support for CR1. However, our results provide strong evidence that association with PICALM (rs3851179, p = 0.69 with, and p = 0.039 without, APOE adjustment) and EXOC3L2 is affected by correlation with APOE, and thus may represent spurious association. Our results indicate that genetic structure coupled with ascertainment bias resulting from the strong APOE association affect genome-wide results and interpretation of some recently reported associations. We show that a locus such as APOE, with large effects and strong association with disease, can lead to samples that require appropriate adjustment for this locus to avoid both false positive and false negative evidence of association. We suggest that similar adjustments may also be needed for many other large multi-site studies.
Genetic factors are well-established to play a role in risk of Alzheimer's disease (AD). However, it has been difficult to find genes that are involved in AD susceptibility, other than a small number of genes that play a role in early-onset, high-penetrant disease risk, and the APOE ε4 allele, which increases risk of late-onset disease. Here we use a European-American family-based sample to examine the role of common genetic variants on late-onset AD. We show that variants in CUGBP2 on chromosome 10p, along with nearby variants, are associated with AD in those highest-risk APOE ε4 homozygotes. We have replicated this interaction in an independent sample. CUGBP2 has one isoform that is expressed predominantly in neurons, and identification of such a new risk locus is important because of the severity of AD. We also provide support for recently proposed associated variants (BIN1, CLU, and partly CR1) and show that there are markers throughout the genome that are correlated with APOE. This emphasizes the need to adjust for APOE for such markers to avoid false associations and suggests that there may be confounding for other diseases with similar strong risk loci.
Mutations in the Progranulin gene (PGRN) recently have been discovered to be associated with frontotemporal dementia (FTD) linked to 17q21 without identified MAPT mutations. The range of mutations of PGRN that can result in the FTD phenotype and the clinical presentation of patients with PGRN mutations have yet to be determined.
In this study, we examined 84 FTD patients from families not known previously to have illness linked to chromosome 17 for identified PGRN and MAPT mutations and sequenced the coding exons and the flanking intronic regions of PGRN. We compared the prevalence, clinical characteristics, magnetic resonance imaging and 18-fluoro-deoxyglucose positron emission tomography results, and neuropsychological testing of patients with the PGRN R493X mutation with those patients without identified PGRN mutations.
We discovered a new PGRN mutation (R493X) resulting in a stop codon in two patients. This was the only PGRN mutation identified in our sample. The patients with the PGRN R493X mutation had a rapid illness course and had predominant right-sided atrophy and hypometabolism on magnetic resonance imaging and 18-fluoro-deoxyglucose positron emission tomography. The affected father of one of the patients with the PGRN R493X mutation showed frontal and temporal atrophy without neurofibrillary tangles on neuropathological examination.
Known PGRN and MAPT mutations were rare and of similar prevalence in our sample (2 compared with 1/84). The patients with the PGRN R493X mutation had a clinical presentation comparable with other behavior-predominant FTD patients. The neuropathology of an affected family member of a patient with the PGRN R493X mutation appears not to be Alzheimer’s disease.
To determine the brain areas associated with specific components of ideomotor apraxia (IMA) in corticobasal syndrome (CBS).
Case-control and cross-sectional study.
Forty-eight patients with CBS and 14 control subjects.
Administration of the Test of Oral and Limb Apraxia.
Main Outcome Measures
Differences between patients with CBS and healthy controls and associations between areas of gray matter volume and IMA determined by voxel-based morphometry in patients with CBS.
Overall, IMA was associated with decreased gray matter volume in the left supplemental motor area, pre-motor cortex, and caudate nucleus of patients with CBS. The overall degree of apraxia was independent of the side of motor impairment. Praxis to imitation (vs command) was particularly impaired in the patients with CBS. Patients demonstrated equal impairment in transitive and intransitive praxis.
In patients with CBS, IMA is associated with left posterior frontal cortical and subcortical volume loss. Despite showing left frontal volume loss associated with IMA, patients with CBS have particularly impaired imitation of gestures. These findings suggest either that the IMA of CBS affects a route of praxis that bypasses motor engrams or that motor engrams are affected but that they exist in areas other than the inferior parietal cortex.
Nucleotide duplications in exon 4 of the ferritin light polypeptide (FTL) gene cause the autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disease neuroferritinopathy or hereditary ferritinopathy (HF). Pathologic examination of patients with HF has shown abnormal ferritin and iron accumulation in neurons and glia in the central nervous system (CNS) as well as in cells of other organ systems, including skin fibroblasts. To gain some understanding on the molecular basis of HF, we characterized iron metabolism in primary cultures of human skin fibroblasts from an individual with the FTL c.497_498dupTC mutation.
Compared to normal controls, HF fibroblasts showed abnormal iron metabolism consisting of increased levels of ferritin polypeptides, divalent metal transporter 1, basal iron content and reactive oxygen species, and decreased levels of transferrin receptor-1 and IRE-IRP binding activity.
Our data indicates that HF fibroblasts replicate the abnormal iron metabolism observed in the CNS of patients with HF. We propose that HF fibroblasts are a unique cellular model in which to study the role of abnormal iron metabolism in the pathogenesis of HF without artifacts derived from over-expression or lack of endogenous translational regulatory elements.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is the second most common cause of presenile dementia. The predominant neuropathology is FTLD with TAR DNA binding protein (TDP-43) inclusions (FTLD-TDP)1. FTLD-TDP is frequently familial resulting from progranulin (GRN) mutations. We assembled an international collaboration to identify susceptibility loci for FTLD-TDP, using genome-wide association (GWA). We found that FTLD-TDP associates with multiple SNPs mapping to a single linkage disequilibrium (LD) block on 7p21 that contains TMEM106B in a GWA study (GWAS) on 515 FTLD-TDP cases. Three SNPs retained genome-wide significance following Bonferroni correction; top SNP rs1990622 (P=1.08×10−11; odds ratio (OR) minor allele (C) 0.61, 95% CI 0.53-0.71). The association replicated in 89 FTLD-TDP cases (rs1990622; P=2×10−4). TMEM106B variants may confer risk by increasing TMEM106B expression. TMEM106B variants also contribute to genetic risk for FTLD-TDP in patients with GRN mutations. Our data implicate TMEM106B as a strong risk factor for FTLD-TDP suggesting an underlying pathogenic mechanism.
Frontotemporal lobar degenerations are a group of disorders characterized by circumscribed degeneration of the frontal and temporal lobes and diverse histopathological features. We report clinical, neuropathological, ultrastructural, biochemical and genetic data on seven individuals with a four-repeat (4R) tauopathy characterized by the presence of globular glial inclusions (GGIs) in brain white matter. Clinical manifestations were compatible with the behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and included motor neuron symptoms; there was prominent neuronal loss in the frontal and temporal cortex, subiculum and amygdala. The surrounding white matter showed abundant GGIs composed of abnormal filaments present mostly in oligodendrocytes. The severity of white matter tau abnormalities correlated with a reduction in myelin and axons and with microglial activation. Western blotting of sarkosyl-insoluble tau demonstrated the presence of two major tau bands of 64 and 68 kDa. No mutations in the microtubule-associated protein tau (MAPT) gene were detected in two affected individuals. We propose that 4R tau-immunoreactive GGIs are the neuropathologic hallmark of a distinct sporadic tauopathy with variable clinical presentations that include FTD and occasionally upper motor neuron disease. This type of tauopathy with GGIs expands the group of neurodegenerative disorders in which oligodendroglial pathology predominates, beyond the synucleinopathy multiple system atrophy disorders.
Dementia; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Tau; Tauopathy; White matter
Six subtypes of sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease with distinctive clinico-pathological features have been identified largely based on two types of the abnormal prion protein, PrPSc, and the methionine (M)/valine (V) polymorphic codon 129 of the prion protein. The existence of affected subjects showing mixed phenotypic features and concurrent PrPSc types has been reported but with inconsistencies among studies in both results and their interpretation. The issue currently complicates diagnosis and classification of cases and also has implications for disease pathogenesis. To explore the issue in depth, we carried out a systematic regional study in a large series of 225 cases. PrPSc types 1 and 2 concurrence was detected in 35% of cases and was higher in MM than in MV or VV subjects. The deposition of either type 1 or 2, when concurrent, was not random and always characterized by the coexistence of phenotypic features previously described in the pure subtypes. PrPSc type 1 accumulation and related pathology predominated in MM and MV cases, while the type 2 phenotype prevailed in VVs. Neuropathological examination best identified the mixed types 1 and 2 features in MMs and most MVs, and also uniquely revealed the co-occurrence of pathological variants sharing PrPSc type 2. In contrast, molecular typing best detected the concurrent PrPSc types in VV subjects and MV cases with kuru plaques. The present data provide an updated disease classification and are of importance for future epidemiologic and transmission studies aimed to identify etiology and extent of strain variation in sporadic Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease.
Prion protein; Brain mapping; Molecular typing; Neurodegeneration; Classification
Insertional mutations in exon 4 of the ferritin light chain (FTL) gene are associated with hereditary ferritinopathy (HF) or neuroferritinopathy, an autosomal dominant neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive impairment of motor and cognitive functions. To determine the pathogenic mechanisms by which mutations in FTL lead to neurodegeneration, we investigated iron metabolism and markers of oxidative stress in the brain of transgenic (Tg) mice that express the mutant human FTL498-499InsTC cDNA. Compared with wild-type mice, brain extracts from Tg (FTL-Tg) mice showed an increase in the cytoplasmic levels of both FTL and ferritin heavy chain polypeptides, a decrease in the protein and mRNA levels of transferrin receptor-1, and a significant increase in iron levels. Transgenic mice also showed the presence of markers for lipid peroxidation, protein carbonyls, and nitrone–protein adducts in the brain. However, gene expression analysis of iron management proteins in the liver of Tg mice indicates that the FTL-Tg mouse liver is iron deficient. Our data suggest that disruption of iron metabolism in the brain has a primary role in the process of neurodegeneration in HF and that the pathogenesis of HF is likely to result from a combination of reduction in iron storage function and enhanced toxicity associated with iron-induced ferritin aggregates in the brain.
animal model; hereditary ferritinopathy; neuroferritinopathy