Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is most commonly associated with TAR-DNA binding protein (TDP-43) or tau pathology at autopsy, but there are no in vivo biomarkers reliably discriminating between sporadic cases. As disease-modifying treatments emerge, it is critical to accurately identify underlying pathology in living patients so that they can be entered into appropriate etiology-directed clinical trials. Patients with tau inclusions (FTLD-TAU) appear to have relatively greater white matter (WM) disease at autopsy than those patients with TDP-43 (FTLD-TDP). In this paper, we investigate the ability of white matter (WM) imaging to help discriminate between FTLD-TAU and FTLD-TDP during life using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI).
Patients with autopsy-confirmed disease or a genetic mutation consistent with FTLD-TDP or FTLD-TAU underwent multimodal T1 volumetric MRI and diffusion weighted imaging scans. We quantified cortical thickness in GM and fractional anisotropy (FA) in WM. We performed Eigenanatomy, a statistically robust dimensionality reduction algorithm, and used leave-one-out cross-validation to predict underlying pathology. Neuropathological assessment of GM and WM disease burden was performed in the autopsy-cases to confirm our findings of an ante-mortem GM and WM dissociation in the neuroimaging cohort.
ROC curve analyses evaluated classification accuracy in individual patients and revealed 96% sensitivity and 100% specificity for WM analyses. FTLD-TAU had significantly more WM degeneration and inclusion severity at autopsy relative to FTLD-TDP.
These neuroimaging and neuropathological investigations provide converging evidence for greater WM burden associated with FTLD-TAU, and emphasize the role of WM neuroimaging for in vivo discrimination between FTLD-TAU and FTLD-TDP.
Memantine has been used off-label to treat frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTD). A previous 26 week open label study suggested a transient, modest benefit on neuropsychiatric symptoms as measured by the Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI).
We performed a randomized, parallel group, double blind, placebo controlled trial of 20 mg memantine taken orally daily for 26 weeks in FTD. Participants met Neary criteria for behavioral variant (bvFTD) or semantic dementia (SD) and had characteristic brain atrophy. Use of cholinesterase inhibitors was prohibited. The objective of the study was to determine whether memantine is an effective treatment for FTD. Individuals were randomized to memantine or matched placebo tablets in blocks of two and four. Primary endpoints were the change in total NPI score and Clinical Global Impression of Change (CGIC) scores after 26 weeks. Secondary outcomes included a neuropsychological battery, and other cognitive, global and activity of daily living measures. Clinicaltrials.gov identifier: NCT00545974
100 subjects were screened, 81 were randomized, 5 (6%) discontinued and 76 completed all visits. Enrollment numbers were lower than planned due to many subjects’ preference to take memantine or cholinesterase inhibitors off-label rather than participate in a clinical trial. 39 memantine and 42 placebo subjects entered the primary intent to treat analysis. There was no effect of memantine treatment on either the NPI (mean difference [MD] 2.2, 95%CI: −3.9, 8.3, p = 0.47) or CGIC (MD 0, 95%CI: −0.4, 0.4, p = 0.90) after 26 weeks of treatment. Memantine was generally well tolerated, however there were more frequent cognitive adverse events in the memantine group.
There was no benefit of memantine treatment in bvFTD or SD. These data do not support memantine use in FTD.
Forest Research Institute
While plasma biomarkers have been proposed to aid in the clinical diagnosis of Alzheimer disease (AD), few biomarkers have been validated in independent patient cohorts. Here we aim to determine plasma biomarkers associated with AD in 2 independent cohorts and validate the findings in the multicenter Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI).
Using a targeted proteomic approach, we measured levels of 190 plasma proteins and peptides in 600 participants from 2 independent centers (University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia; Washington University, St. Louis, MO), and identified 17 analytes associated with the diagnosis of very mild dementia/mild cognitive impairment (MCI) or AD. Four analytes (apoE, B-type natriuretic peptide, C-reactive protein, pancreatic polypeptide) were also found to be altered in clinical MCI/AD in the ADNI cohort (n = 566). Regression analysis showed CSF Aβ42 levels and t-tau/Aβ42 ratios to correlate with the number of APOE4 alleles and plasma levels of B-type natriuretic peptide and pancreatic polypeptide.
Four plasma analytes were consistently associated with the diagnosis of very mild dementia/MCI/AD in 3 independent clinical cohorts. These plasma biomarkers may predict underlying AD through their association with CSF AD biomarkers, and the association between plasma and CSF amyloid biomarkers needs to be confirmed in a prospective study.
To examine whether frontal lobe abnormalities on magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) correlate with poor letter fluency (LF).
Twenty-five patients with ALS (20 with definite, probable, or possible ALS and 5 with progressive muscular atrophy) performed an LF task, involving F word generation in 1 minute, and underwent MRS. Comparisons were made between patients with ALS with impaired LF and unimpaired LF based on an empirically derived cutoff score. A Spearman correlation was performed between the patient's N-acetyl acetate/creatinine-phosphocreatinine ratio (NAA/Cr) and the number of F words generated.
LF was impaired in 50% of patients with ALS. Patients with impaired LF had reduced NAA/Cr in the DLPFC compared with those with unimpaired LF (p = 0.007). There was a significant correlation between LF and NAA/Cr in the DLPFC (r = 0.51, p = 0.0009). The ALS Functional Rating Scale score, clinical region of motor onset, and disease category had no effect on LF or NAA/Cr in the DLPFC.
A reduced NAA/Cr in the DLPFC of patients with ALS is a marker of neuronal dysfunction and correlates with impaired performance on a clinical measure of executive function.
To utilize values of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tau and ß-amyloid obtained from two different analytical immunoassays to differentiate Alzheimer’s disease (AD) from frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD).
CSF values of total tau (t-tau) and ß-amyloid (Aß1-42) obtained using the INNOTEST® ELISA were transformed using a linear regression model to equivalent values obtained using the INNO-BIA AlzBio3™ (xMAP Luminex) assay. Cutoff values obtained from the xMAP assay were developed in a series of autopsy-confirmed cases and cross-validated in another series of autopsy-confirmed samples using transformed ELISA values to assess sensitivity and specificity for differentiating AD from FTLD.
Tertiary memory disorders clinics and neuropathological and biomarker core centers.
75 samples from patients with CSF data obtained from both assays were used for transformation of ELISA values. 40 autopsy-confirmed cases (30 AD, 10 FTLD) were used to establish diagnostic cutoff values, and then cross-validated in a second sample set of 21 autopsy-confirmed cases (11 AD, 10 FTLD) with transformed ELISA values.
Main outcome measure
Diagnostic accuracy using transformed biomarker values.
Data obtained from both assays were highly correlated. The t-tau:Aß1-42 ratio had the highest correlation between measures (r=0.928, p<0.001) and high reliability of transformation (ICC=0.89). A cutoff of 0.34 for the t-tau:Aß1-42 ratio had 90% and 100% sensitivity and 96.7% and 91% specificity to differentiate FTLD cases in the validation and cross-validation samples, respectively.
Values from two analytical platforms can be transformed into equivalent units, which can distinguish AD from FTLD more accurately than the clinical diagnosis.
Deficits in auditory perception compromise a range of linguistic processes in persons with Parkinson’s disease (PD), including speech perception and sensitivity to affective and linguistic prosody. An unanswered question is whether this deficit exists not only at the level of speech perception, but also at a more pervasive level of auditory perception. It is possible that PD produces a selective impairment in the perception of a salient acoustic feature such as frequency, amplitude, or duration.
Auditory perception in persons with PD was investigated using a tone discrimination task where clients (N = 12) and age-matched controls (N = 15) made same/different judgments for pairs of pure tones that were factorially varied by acoustic feature (i.e., frequency, amplitude, or duration) crossed with perceptual distance (i.e., close vs. far).
Relative to healthy age-matched controls, persons with PD showed marked impairment in tone discrimination. Persons with PD showed an acoustic feature by perceptual distance interaction that was characterized by deficits in detecting frequency and amplitude differences for perceptually near tones.
These results suggest that persons with PD show a reduced ability to notice change in frequency and amplitude as compared to normal older adults. More generally, these findings implicate a frontal–striatal contribution to auditory perception.
Parkinson’s disease; speech perception; auditory perception; tone detection; frontal lobe
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is associated with impaired executive control. The aim of the current research was to test the hypothesis that concept formation deficits associated with an extra-motor neurocognitive network involving executive and semantic resources can be found in some ALS patients.
Forty-one patients with clinically-definite ALS were assessed with Delis Kaplan Executive Function System Sorting Test (D-KEFS), a measure of concept formation requiring patients to manipulate verbal and visual semantic information and neuropsychological tests measuring naming, semantic memory, and executive control. Using D-KEFS scale scores, a k-mean cluster analysis specifying a 3-group solution was able to classify ALS patients into groups presenting with mildly impaired, average, and above average sorting test performance. High resolution T1 structural MRI was used to examine cortical thickness in a subset of 16 ALS patients.
Step-wise regression analyses related free and recognition sorting test performance to measures of action naming, single word semantic knowledge, and mental search/working memory. MRI studies found widespread cortical thinning involving bilateral frontal, temporal and parietal regions. Regression analyses related recognition sorting performance to reduced MRI cortical thickness involving the left prefrontal and left parietal cortex.
An extra-motor cognitive network is associated with impaired concept formation in ALS.
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS); executive control; prefrontal cortex; neuropsychology; Delis-Kaplan Executive Function System (D-KEFS) Sorting Test
We propose to use the sparseness property of the gradient probability distribution to estimate the intensity nonuniformity in medical images, resulting in two novel automatic methods: a non-parametric method and a parametric method. Our methods are easy to implement because they both solve an iteratively re-weighted least squares problem. They are remarkably accurate as shown by our experiments on images of different imaged objects and from different imaging modalities.
In an era of disease-modifying treatments, the non-fluent/agrammatic variant of primary progressive aphasia (naPPA) may help screen for a specific cause of neurodegenerative disease. However, there are controversies surrounding the identification of naPPA. This review describes the characteristic features associated with this discrete, young-onset neurodegenerative condition. Patients with naPPA have a distinct limitation in language emphasizingtheir poor grammatical comprehension and expression, as well as a disorder of speech sound production. Imaging studies associate an impairment of this uniquely human language capacity with disruption of a large-scale neural network centered in left inferior frontal and anterior-superior temporal regions. This corresponds to thepathologic burden of disease anatomically focused in left inferior frontal and anterior-superior temporal regions. A review of the histopathology underlying naPPA relates this condition to frontotemporal lobar degeneration spectrum pathology involving the microtubule-associated protein tau in a majority of cases. While much work remains to be done, these observations point to unique clinical-pathological correlations that can advance care for an important class of diseases while supplementing our knowledge of human cognitive neuroscience.
Pathologic TAR-DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) is a disease protein in frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin-positive inclusions (FTLD-U) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. We studied the presence, frequency, and distribution of TDP-43 pathology by immunohistochemistry and biochemistry in a series of clinically well-characterized tauopathy patient brains, including 182 Alzheimer disease (AD), 39 corticobasal degeneration, 77 progressive supranuclear palsy, and 12 Pick disease cases and investigated the clinical impact of concomitant TDP-43 pathology in these cases. TAR-DNA-binding protein 43 pathology was found in 25.8% of AD cases. It was restricted to the dentate gyrus and entorhinal cortex in approximately 75% of cases; approximately 25% showed more widespread TDP-43 pathology in frontal and temporal cortices, resembling the FTLD-U subtype associated with progranulin mutations. TAR-DNA-binding protein 43 pathology in AD was associated with significantly longer disease duration, but there was no association with the clinical presentation (148 cases diagnosed as AD and 34 cases diagnosed as frontotemporal lobar degeneration). Progressive supranuclear palsy and Pick disease cases showed no TDP-43 inclusions and no biochemical alterations of TDP-43. There was, however, a unique, predominantly glial TDP-43 pathology with staining of astrocytic plaque-like structures and coiled bodies in 15.4% of corticobasal degeneration cases; this was associated with biochemical TDP-43 changes similar to those in FTLD-U. These findings provide further insight into the burden and clinical significance of TDP-43 pathology in disorders other than FTLD-U and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Alzheimer disease; Corticobasal degeneration; Frontotemporal dementia; Tauopathy; TDP-43
We contribute a novel and interpretable dimensionality reduction strategy, eigenanatomy, that is tuned for neuroimaging data. The method approximates the eigendecomposition of an image set with basis functions (the eigenanatomy vectors) that are sparse, unsigned and are anatomically clustered. We employ the eigenanatomy vectors as anatomical predictors to improve detection power in morphometry. Standard voxel-based morphometry (VBM) analyzes imaging data voxel-by-voxel—and follows this with cluster-based or voxel-wise multiple comparisons correction methods to determine significance. Eigenanatomy reverses the standard order of operations by first clustering the voxel data and then using standard linear regression in this reduced dimensionality space. As with traditional region-of-interest (ROI) analysis, this strategy can greatly improve detection power. Our results show that eigenanatomy provides a principled objective function that leads to localized, data-driven regions of interest. These regions improve our ability to quantify biologically plausible rates of cortical change in two distinct forms of neurodegeneration. We detail the algorithm and show experimental evidence of its efficacy.
Executive resources allow for flexible, adaptive, goal-directed responses to environmental circumstances in essentially all facets of daily living. Executive function is composed of related, but separable, components. This article will highlight three essential aspects of executive function: (1) working memory, (2) planning and organizing, and (3) inhibitory control. Working memory is the system by which information is maintained in an active mental state so that it can be used for other purposes. Planning and organizing of behavior involves the way in which individuals optimize the execution of multistep tasks to achieve a goal. Inhibitory control allows an individual to inhibit inappropriate responses and to shift responses when necessary. These aspects of executive function appear to depend in part on large-scale neural networks that are centered in distinct areas of prefrontal cortex, working in concert with other brain regions, such as parietal cortex and the basal ganglia. Executive function is a fundamental aspect of human cognition that is compromised in patients with a wide range of medical conditions.
Patients with Lewy body spectrum disorders (LBSD) such as Parkinson’s disease (PD), Parkinson’s disease with dementia (PDD), and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) exhibit deficits in both narrative comprehension and narrative expression. The present research examines the hypothesis that these impairments are due to a material-neutral deficit in organizational executive resources rather than to impairments of language per se. We predicted that comprehension and expression of narrative would be similarly affected and that deficits in both expression and comprehension of narrative would be related to the same anatomic distribution of prefrontal disease.
We examined 29 LBSD patients and 26 healthy seniors on their comprehension and expression of narrative discourse. For comprehension, we measured accuracy and latency in judging events with high and low associativity from familiar scripts such as “going fishing.” The expression task involved maintaining the connectedness of events while narrating a story from a wordless picture book.
LBSD patients were impaired on measures of narrative organization during both comprehension and expression relative to healthy seniors. Measures of organization during narrative expression and comprehension were significantly correlated with each other. These measures both correlated with executive measures but not with neuropsychological measures of lexical semantics or grammar. Voxel-based morphometry revealed overlapping regressions relating frontal atrophy to narrative comprehension, narrative expression, and measures of executive control.
Difficulty with narrative discourse in LBSD stems in part from a deficit of organization common to comprehension and expression. This deficit is related to prefrontal cortical atrophy in LBSD.
Parkinson’s disease; speech; language; dementia with Lewy bodies
Traditional neuroanatomic models of language comprehension have emphasized a core language network situated in peri-Sylvian cortex. More recent evidence appears to extend the neuroanatomic network beyond peri-Sylvian cortex to encompass other aspects of sentence processing. In this study, we evaluate the neuroanatomic basis for processing the ambiguity in doubly-quantified sentences. For example, a sentence like “All the dogs jumped in a lake” can be interpreted with a collective interpretation (e.g., several dogs jumping into a single lake) or a distributive interpretation (e.g., several dogs each jumping into a different lake). In Experiment 1, we used BOLD fMRI to investigate neuroanatomic recruitment by young adults during the interpretation of ambiguous doubly-quantified sentences in a sentence-picture verification task. We observed that young adults exhibited a processing cost associated with interpreting ambiguous sentences and this was related to frontal and parietal cortex recruitment. In Experiment 2, we investigate ambiguous sentence processing with the identical materials in non-aphasic patients with behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) who have frontal cortex disease and executive and decision-making limitations. bvFTD patients are insensitive to ambiguity associated with doubly-quantified sentences, and this is related to the magnitude of their frontal cortex disease. These studies provide converging evidence that cortical regions that extend beyond peri-Sylvian cortex help support the processing costs associated with the interpretation of ambiguous doubly-quantified sentences.
language; quantifiers; fMRI; volumetric MRI; frontotemporal dementia
Pronouns are extraordinarily common in daily language yet little is known about the neural mechanisms that support decisions about pronoun reference. We propose a large-scale neural network for resolving pronoun reference that consists of two components. First, a core language network in peri-Sylvian cortex supports syntactic and semantic resources for interpreting pronoun meaning in sentences. Second, a frontal-parietal network that supports strategic decision-making is recruited to support probabilistic and risk-related components of resolving a pronoun’s referent. In an fMRI study of healthy young adults, we observed activation of left inferior frontal and superior temporal cortex, consistent with a language network. We also observed activation of brain regions not associated with traditional language areas. By manipulating the context of the pronoun, we were able to demonstrate recruitment of dorsolateral prefrontal cortex during probabilistic evaluation of a pronoun’s reference, and orbital frontal activation when a pronoun must adopt a risky referent. Together, these findings are consistent with a two-component model for resolving a pronoun’s reference that includes neuroanatomic regions supporting core linguistic and decision-making mechanisms.
decision-making; language processing; pronouns; fMRI; lexical semantic
Ocular motility abnormalities may be a marker of neuro-degeneration beyond motor neurons in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We formally compared clinical neuro-ophthalmic abnormalities in ALS patients and a control population.
Patients attending a multidisciplinary ALS clinic (n = 63, age 60.8 +/− 16.4 years) and their caregivers serving as controls (n = 37, ages 55.0 +/− 12.7 years) participated in this cross-sectional study. Visual acuity was assessed. Video recordings of a standardized ocular motility exam including gaze fixation, voluntary saccades, reflex saccades, smooth pursuit, eyelid opening and Bell's phenomenon were rated by two senior neuro-ophthalmologists who were masked to subject group.
Visual acuity was lower in ALS patients versus control subjects (OR 0.81 (0.71–0.93), p = 0.003, logistic regression). Inter- and intra-rater reliability for ocular motility examination ratings were good (Cohen's Kappa > 0.6). Findings observed only in ALS subjects included gaze impersistence (14%, p = 0.01), moderately or severely restricted voluntary upgaze (13%, p = 0.01), and moderate or severe eyelid opening apraxia (27%, p = 0.0002). Accounting for age, moderately or severely saccadic horizontal smooth pursuits distinguished ALS from control subjects (OR 3.6 (1.2– 10.9), p = 0.02, logistic regression).
Clinical findings of decreased visual acuity, gaze impersistence, voluntary upgaze restriction, eyelid opening apraxia, and saccadic horizontal smooth pursuits are more frequent in patients with ALS than in similar-aged controls. These findings are potential clinical markers of neurodegeneration beyond upper and lower motor neuron disease in ALS. Further study is warranted regarding their application to disease categorization and outcomes assessment.
Prevalence study; Eye movements; Vision; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
While cognitive deficits are increasingly recognized as common symptoms in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the underlying histopathologic basis for this is not known, nor has the relevance of neuroinflammatory mechanisms and microglial activation to cognitive impairment (CI) in ALS been systematically analyzed. Staining for neurodegenerative disease pathology, TDP-43, and microglial activation markers (CD68, Ibal) was performed in 102 autopsy cases of ALS, and neuropathology data were related to clinical and neuropsychological measures. ALS with dementia (ALS-D) and ALS with impaired executive function (ALS-Ex) patients showed significant microglial activation in middle frontal and superior or middle temporal (SMT) gyrus regions, as well as significant neuronal loss and TDP-43 pathology in these regions. Microglial activation and TDP-43 pathology in middle frontal and superior or middle temporal regions were highly correlated with measures of executive impairment, but not with the MMSE. In contrast, only one ALS-D patient showed moderate Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology. Tau and Aβ pathology increased with age. A lower MMSE score correlated with tau pathology in hippocampus and SMT gyrus, and with Aβ pathology in limbic and most cortical regions. Tau and Aβ pathology did not correlate with executive measures. We conclude that microglial activation and TDP-43 pathology in frontotemporal areas are determinants of FTLD spectrum dementia in ALS and correlate with neuropsychological measures of executive dysfunction. In contrast, AD pathology in ALS is primarily related to increasing age and associated with a poorer performance on the MMSE.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Cognitive impairment; TDP-43; Microglia
Prior work has related sentence processing to executive deficits in non-demented patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD). We extended this investigation to patients with dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and PD dementia (PDD) by examining grammatical and working memory components of sentence processing in the full range of patients with Lewy body spectrum disorder (LBSD). Thirty-three patients with LBSD were given a two-alternative, forced-choice sentence-picture matching task. Sentence type, working memory, and grammatical structure were systematically manipulated in the sentences. We found that patients with PDD and DLB were significantly impaired relative to non-demented PD patients and healthy controls. The deficit in PDD/DLB was most pronounced for sentences lengthened by the strategic placement of an additional prepositional phrase and for sentences with an additional proposition due to a center-embedded clause. However, there was no effect for subject-relative versus object-relative grammatical structure. An MRI voxel-based morphometry analysis in a subset of patients showed significant gray matter thinning in the frontal lobe bilaterally, and this extended to temporal, parietal and occipital regions. A regression analysis related sentence processing difficulty in LBSD to frontal neocortex, including inferiorprefrontal, premotor, and dorsolateral prefrontal regions, as well as right superior temporal cortex. These findings are consistent with the hypothesis that patients with PDD and DLB have difficulty processing sentences with increased working memory demands and that this deficit is related in part to their frontal disease.
Lewy body; Parkinson’s; sentence processing; working memory; MRI; prefrontal
The microtubule-binding protein, tau, is the major component of neurofibrillary inclusions characteristic of Alzheimer's disease and related neurodegenerative tauopathies. When tau fibrillizes, it undergoes abnormal post-translational modifications resulting in decreased solubility and altered microtubule-stabilizing properties. Recently, we reported that the abnormal acetylation of tau at lysine residue 280 is a novel, pathological post-translational modification. Here, we performed detailed immunohistochemistry to further examine acetylated-tau expression in Alzheimer's disease and other major tauopathies. Immunohistochemistry using a polyclonal antibody specific for acetylated-tau at lysine 280 was conducted on 30 post-mortem central nervous system regions from patients with Alzheimer's disease (10 patients), corticobasal degeneration (5 patients), and progressive supranuclear palsy (5 patients). Acetylated-tau pathology was compared with the sequential emergence of other tau modifications in the Alzheimer's disease hippocampus using monoclonal antibodies to multiple well-characterized tau epitopes. All cases studied showed significant acetylated-tau pathology in a distribution pattern similar to hyperphosphorylated-tau. Acetylated-tau pathology was largely in intracellular, thioflavin-S-positive tau inclusions in Alzheimer's disease, and also thioflavin-S-negative pathology in corticobasal degeneration and progressive supranuclear palsy. Acetylated-tau was present throughout all stages of Alzheimer's disease pathology, but was more prominently associated with pathological tau epitopes in moderate to severe-stage cases. These temporal and morphological immunohistochemical features suggest acetylation of tau at this epitope is preceded by early modifications, including phosphorylation, and followed by later truncation events and cell death in Alzheimer's disease. Acetylation of tau at lysine 280 is a pathological modification that may contribute to tau-mediated neurodegeneration by both augmenting losses of normal tau properties (reduced solubility and microtubule assembly) as well as toxic gains of function (increased tau fibrillization). Thus, inhibiting tau acetylation could be a disease-modifying target for drug discovery target in tauopathies.
Alzheimer's disease; tauopathy; acetylation; post-translational modification; tau
Few studies have examined connected speech in demented and non-demented patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD). We assessed the speech production of 35 patients with Lewy body spectrum disorder (LBSD), including non-demented PD patients, patients with PD dementia (PDD), and patients with dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), in a semi-structured narrative speech sample in order to characterize impairments of speech fluency and to determine the factors contributing to reduced speech fluency in these patients. Both demented and non-demented PD patients exhibited reduced speech fluency, characterized by reduced overall speech rate and long pauses between sentences. Reduced speech rate in LBSD correlated with measures of between-utterance pauses, executive functioning, and grammatical comprehension. Regression analyses related non-fluent speech, grammatical difficulty, and executive difficulty to atrophy in frontal brain regions. These findings indicate that multiple factors contribute to slowed speech in LBSD, and this is mediated in part by disease in frontal brain regions.
Parkinson’s disease; speech; language; fluency; dementia with Lewy bodies
It is difficult to longitudinally characterize cognitive impairment in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) due to motor deficits, and existing instruments aren’t comparable with assessments in other dementias.
The ALS Brief Cognitive Assessment (ALS-BCA) was validated in 70 subjects (37 with ALS) who also underwent detailed neuropsychological analysis. Cognitive predictors for poor survival were then analyzed in a longitudinal cohort of 171 ALS patients.
The ALS-BCA was highly sensitive (90%) and specific (85%) for ALS-dementia (ALS-D). ALS-D patients had shorter overall survival, primarily due to the poor survival among ALS-D patients with disinhibited or apathetic behaviors after adjusting for demographic variables, ALS site of onset, medications, and supportive measures. ALS-D without behavioral changes was not a predictor of poor survival.
ALS-D can present with or without prominent behavioral changes. Cognitive screening in ALS patients should focus on behavioral changes for prognosis, while non-behavioral cognitive impairments may impact quality of life without impacting survival.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TDP-43 inclusions (FTLD-TDP) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease with no available treatments. Mutations in the progranulin gene (GRN) causing impaired production or secretion of progranulin are a common Mendelian cause of FTLD-TDP; additionally, common variants at chromosome 7p21 in the uncharacterized gene TMEM106B were recently linked by genome-wide association to FTLD-TDP with and without GRN mutations. Here we show that TMEM106B is neuronally expressed in postmortem human brain tissue, and that expression levels are increased in FTLD-TDP brain. Furthermore, using an unbiased, microarray-based screen of over 800 microRNAs, we identify microRNA-132 as the top microRNA differentiating FTLD-TDP and control brains, with <50% normal expression levels of three members of the microRNA-132 cluster (microRNA-132, microRNA-132*, and microRNA-212) in disease. Computational analyses, corroborated empirically, demonstrate that the top mRNA target of both microRNA-132 and microRNA-212 is TMEM106B; both microRNAs repress TMEM106B expression through shared microRNA-132/212 binding sites in the TMEM106B 3’UTR. Increasing TMEM106B expression to model disease results in enlargement and poor acidification of endo-lysosomes, as well as impairment of mannose-6-phosphate-receptor trafficking. Finally, endogenous neuronal TMEM106B co-localizes with progranulin in late endo-lysosomes, and TMEM106B over-expression increases intracellular levels of progranulin. Thus, TMEM106B is an FTLD-TDP risk gene, with microRNA-132/212 depression as an event which can lead to aberrant over-expression of TMEM106B, which in turn alters progranulin pathways. Evidence for this pathogenic cascade includes the striking convergence of two independent, genomic-scale screens on a microRNA:mRNA regulatory pair. Our findings open novel directions for elucidating miRNA-based therapies in FTLD-TDP.
Frontotemporal dementia; microRNA-132; microRNA-212; progranulin; TDP-43; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; TMEM106B
Previous work investigating deficits in self-appraisal in behavioural-variant frontotemporal degeneration (bvFTD) has focused on a single domain: social/behavioural processes. We examined whether a domain-specific versus multi-domain model best explains degraded self-appraisal in bvFTD.
49 patients with bvFTD and 73 patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) were administered quantitative assessments of episodic memory, naming and grammatical comprehension. Self-appraisal of cognitive test performance was assessed by asking patients to rate their performance immediately after completing each neuropsychological test. A discrepancy score was created to reflect the difference between patient performance on neuropsychological tests and self-appraisal of their test performance. Self-appraisal for each neuropsychological measure was related to grey matter (GM) density in each group using voxel-based morphometry.
bvFTD patients were poor at evaluating their own performance on all cognitive tests, with no significant correlations between self-appraisal and actual performance. By contrast, poor self-appraisal in AD was restricted to episodic memory performance. Poor self-appraisal on each task in bvFTD and AD was related to reduced GM density in several ventral and rostral medial prefrontal regions. Crucially, poor self-appraisal for all domains in bvFTD was related to a specific area of reduced GM density in the subgenual cingulate (BA 25).
Poor self-appraisal in bvFTD affects multiple domains, and this multi-domain impairment pattern is associated with frontal disease in the subgenual cingulate.
The effects of applying clinical versus neuropathological diagnosis and the inclusion of cases with coincident neuropathological diagnoses have not been assessed specifically when studying cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarker classification cutoffs for patients with neurodegenerative diseases that cause dementia. Thus, 142 neuropathologically diagnosed neurodegenerative dementia patients [71 Alzheimer’s disease (AD), 29 frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), 3 amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, 7 dementia with Lewy bodies, 32 of which cases also had coincident diagnoses] were studied. 96 % had enzyme-linked immunosorbant assay (ELISA) CSF data and 77 % had Luminex CSF data, with 43 and 46 controls for comparison, respectively. Aβ42, total, and phosphorylated tau181 were measured. Clinical and neuropathological diagnoses showed an 81.4 % overall agreement. Both assays showed high sensitivity and specificity to classify AD subjects against FTLD subjects and controls, and moderate sensitivity and specificity for classifying FTLD subjects against controls. However, among the cases with neuropathological diagnoses of AD plus another pathology (26.8 % of the sample), 69.4 % (ELISA) and 96.4 % (Luminex) were classified as AD according to their biomarker profiles. Use of clinical diagnosis instead of neuropathological diagnosis led to a 14–17 % underestimation of the biomarker accuracy. These results show that while CSF Aβ and tau assays are useful for diagnosis of AD and neurodegenerative diseases even at MCI stages, CSF diagnostic analyte panels that establish a positive diagnosis of Lewy body disease and FTLD are also needed, and must be established based on neuropathological rather than clinical diagnoses.
Biomarker; Cerebrospinal fluid; Alzheimer’s disease; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Amyloid beta; Tau