To investigate whether patients with behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) have dysregulation in satiety-related hormonal signaling using a laboratory-based case-control study.
Fifty-four participants (19 patients with bvFTD, 17 patients with Alzheimer disease dementia, and 18 healthy normal controls [NCs]) were recruited from a tertiary-care dementia clinic. During a standardized breakfast, blood was drawn before, during, and after the breakfast protocol to quantify levels of peripheral satiety-related hormones (ghrelin, cortisol, insulin, leptin, and peptide YY) and glucose. To further explore the role of patients' feeding abnormalities on hormone levels, patients were classified into overeating and nonovereating subgroups based on feeding behavior during separate laboratory-based standardized lunch feeding sessions.
Irrespective of their feeding behavior in the laboratory, patients with bvFTD, but not patients with Alzheimer disease dementia, have significantly lower levels of ghrelin and cortisol and higher levels of insulin compared with NCs. Furthermore, while laboratory feeding behavior did not predict alterations in levels of ghrelin, cortisol, and insulin, only patients with bvFTD who significantly overate in the laboratory demonstrated significantly higher levels of leptin compared with NCs, suggesting that leptin may be sensitive to particularly severe feeding abnormalities in bvFTD.
Despite a tendency to overeat, patients with bvFTD have a hormonal profile that should decrease food intake. Aberrant hormone levels may represent a compensatory response to the behavioral or neuroanatomical abnormalities of bvFTD.
We present longitudinal clinical, cognitive and neuroimaging data from a 63-year-old woman who enrolled in research as a normal control and evolved posterior cortical atrophy (PCA) over five year follow-up. At baseline she reported only subtle difficulty driving and performed normally on cognitive tests, but already demonstrated atrophy in left visual association cortex. With follow-up she developed insidiously progressive visuospatial and visuoperceptual deficits, correlating with progressive atrophy in bilateral visual areas. Amyloid PET was positive. This case tracks the evolution of PCA from the prodromal stage, and illustrates challenges to early diagnosis as well as the utility of imaging biomarkers.
To assess the prevalence of geriatric depression in Chinese American patients with cognitive impairment and to compare the prevalence to that of cognitively normal elderly Chinese Americans and Caucasians.
We compared rates of depressive symptomatology in elderly Chinese Americans to a matched group of Caucasians, with and without dementia, and assessed rates of treatment for depression across all groups.
Academic subspecialty referral clinic.
Participants included a total of 137 elderly, cognitively impaired and cognitively normal Chinese Americans and 140 Caucasians with and without cognitive impairment.
Demographic (e.g. age, education, race, language ability), cognitive (MMSE score), medical (e.g. cardiovascular morbidity) and functional (Clinical Dementia Rating Scale) risk factors were assessed for association with depressive symptomatology as measured by the Geriatric Depression Scale (GDS).
Depression (GDS score ≥ 6 out of 15) was significantly more common in cognitively impaired Chinese Americans (35%) versus cognitively impaired Caucasians (15%, χ2 = 33.8, p<0.05), and Chinese Americans were less likely to be on treatment for depression (12%) than Caucasians (37%, χ2 = 41, p<0.05). Cognitive and functional impairment, age and education were all independent predictors of GDS score. Rates of depression were not significantly different in cognitively normal Chinese American (6%) and Caucasian (0%) groups.
These findings indicate that elderly Chinese Americans with cognitive impairment are at significantly increased risk for unrecognized depression and that education, and/or other cultural factors associated with education may contribute to this risk.
geriatric depression; dementia; Chinese American
Predicting the progression of dementia is a challenge for clinicians yet this information is highly valued by patients’ families. An informally observed 4-stage model of dementia can be helpful in educating caregivers and preparing them for what lies ahead. In the behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD), this model describes the evolution of behavioral disturbances and is characterized by an inflection point between stage 2 (progressively severe behavioral aberration) and stage 3 (increasing apathy and remission of behavior problems). In this study we sought evidence for this model using a database of serial Neuropsychiatric Inventory (NPI) scores for 45 patients with FTD and 47 patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). We transformed the NPI scores into a single variable for each participant that represented the rate of change in NPI score over time (NPI slope) and used this as the dependent variable in a multivariate linear regression. Age at onset of dementia, NPI score at initial visit, and duration of illness at first NPI all contributed significantly to the regression model for NPI slope in the bvFTD group. Participants with an initial NPI acquired before 6 years of disease duration tended to have a more positive NPI slope (representing worsening behavioral disturbances) than those with an initial NPI performed after 6 years. None of the aforementioned variables were significantly associated with NPI slope in the AD group. These results support a crescendo-decrescendo trajectory of behavioral symptoms in bvFTD but do not suggest that there is a similar pattern in AD, and further longitudinal data collection is necessary.
Alzheimer’s disease; agitation; apathy; behavioral symptoms; disease progression; frontotemporal dementia; longitudinal study; neurobehavioral manifestations
In primary progressive aphasia (PPA), speech and language difficulties are caused by neurodegeneration of specific brain networks. In the nonfluent/agrammatic variant (nfvPPA), motor speech and grammatical deficits are associated with atrophy in a left fronto-insular-striatal network previously implicated in speech production. In vivo dissection of the crossing white matter (WM) tracts within this “speech production network” is complex and has rarely been performed in health or in PPA. We hypothesized that damage to these tracts would be specific to nfvPPA and would correlate with differential aspects of the patients' fluency abilities. We prospectively studied 25 PPA and 21 healthy individuals who underwent extensive cognitive testing and 3 T MRI. Using residual bootstrap Q-ball probabilistic tractography on high angular resolution diffusion-weighted imaging (HARDI), we reconstructed pathways connecting posterior inferior frontal, inferior premotor, insula, supplementary motor area (SMA) complex, striatum, and standard ventral and dorsal language pathways. We extracted tract-specific diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) metrics to assess changes across PPA variants and perform brain–behavioral correlations. Significant WM changes in the left intrafrontal and frontostriatal pathways were found in nfvPPA, but not in the semantic or logopenic variants. Correlations between tract-specific DTI metrics with cognitive scores confirmed the specific involvement of this anterior–dorsal network in fluency and suggested a preferential role of a posterior premotor-SMA pathway in motor speech. This study shows that left WM pathways connecting the speech production network are selectively damaged in nfvPPA and suggests that different tracts within this system are involved in subcomponents of fluency. These findings emphasize the emerging role of diffusion imaging in the differential diagnosis of neurodegenerative diseases.
diffusion tensor imaging; frontal tracts; primary progressive aphasia; speech production; tractography; white matter
An understanding of the anatomic distributions of major neurodegenerative disease lesions is important to appreciate the differential clinical profiles of these disorders and to serve as neuropathological standards for emerging molecular neuroimaging methods. To address these issues, here we present a comparative survey of the topographical distribution of the defining molecular neuropathological lesions among ten neurodegenerative diseases from a large and uniformly assessed brain collection. Ratings of pathological severity in sixteen brain regions from 671 cases with diverse neurodegenerative diseases were summarized and analyzed. These included: a) amyloid-β and tau lesions in Alzheimer’s disease, b) tau lesions in three other tauopathies including Pick’s disease, progressive supranuclear palsy and corticobasal degeneration, c) α-synuclein inclusion ratings in four synucleinopathies including Parkinson’s disease, Parkinson’s disease with dementia, dementia with Lewy bodies and multiple system atrophy, and d) TDP-43 lesions in two TDP-43 proteinopathies, including frontotemporal lobar degeneration associated with TDP-43 and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. The data presented graphically and topographically confirm and extend previous pathological anatomic descriptions and statistical comparisons highlight the lesion distributions that either overlap or distinguish the diseases in each molecular disease category.
Alzheimer’s disease; Pick’s disease; corticobasal degeneration; progressive supranuclear palsy; Parkinson’s disease; Parkinson’s disease dementia; dementia with Lewy bodies; multiple system atrophy; frontotemporal lobar degeneration - TDP; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; amyloid-β; Tau α-synuclein; TDP-43
Sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is considered primarily a disease of grey matter, although the extent of white matter involvement has not been well described. We used diffusion tensor imaging to study the white matter in sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease compared to healthy control subjects and to correlated magnetic resonance imaging findings with histopathology. Twenty-six patients with sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease and nine age- and gender-matched healthy control subjects underwent volumetric T1-weighted and diffusion tensor imaging. Six patients had post-mortem brain analysis available for assessment of neuropathological findings associated with prion disease. Parcellation of the subcortical white matter was performed on 3D T1-weighted volumes using Freesurfer. Diffusion tensor imaging maps were calculated and transformed to the 3D-T1 space; the average value for each diffusion metric was calculated in the total white matter and in regional volumes of interest. Tract-based spatial statistics analysis was also performed to investigate the deeper white matter tracts. There was a significant reduction of mean (P = 0.002), axial (P = 0.0003) and radial (P = 0.0134) diffusivities in the total white matter in sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Mean diffusivity was significantly lower in most white matter volumes of interest (P < 0.05, corrected for multiple comparisons), with a generally symmetric pattern of involvement in sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Mean diffusivity reduction reflected concomitant decrease of both axial and radial diffusivity, without appreciable changes in white matter anisotropy. Tract-based spatial statistics analysis showed significant reductions of mean diffusivity within the white matter of patients with sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, mainly in the left hemisphere, with a strong trend (P = 0.06) towards reduced mean diffusivity in most of the white matter bilaterally. In contrast, by visual assessment there was no white matter abnormality either on T2-weighted or diffusion-weighted images. Widespread reduction in white matter mean diffusivity, however, was apparent visibly on the quantitative attenuation coefficient maps compared to healthy control subjects. Neuropathological analysis showed diffuse astrocytic gliosis and activated microglia in the white matter, rare prion deposition and subtle subcortical microvacuolization, and patchy foci of demyelination with no evident white matter axonal degeneration. Decreased mean diffusivity on attenuation coefficient maps might be associated with astrocytic gliosis. We show for the first time significant global reduced mean diffusivity within the white matter in sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease, suggesting possible primary involvement of the white matter, rather than changes secondary to neuronal degeneration/loss.
Sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD) is considered primarily a disease of grey matter. However, Caverzasi et al. now show a global decrease in mean diffusivity in white matter. The changes appear to be associated with reactive astrocytic gliosis and activated microglia, and suggest primary involvement of the white matter in sCJD.
DTI; CJD; mean diffusivity; gliosis; microglia
Primary progressive aphasia is a neurodegenerative clinical syndrome that presents in adulthood with an isolated, progressive language disorder. Three main clinical/anatomical variants have been described, each associated with distinctive pathology. A high frequency of neurodevelopmental learning disability in primary progressive aphasia has been reported. Because the disorder is heterogeneous with different patterns of cognitive, anatomical and biological involvement, we sought to identify whether learning disability had a predilection for one or more of the primary progressive aphasia subtypes. We screened the University of California San Francisco Memory and Aging Center's primary progressive aphasia cohort (n = 198) for history of language-related learning disability as well as hand preference, which has associations with learning disability. The study included logopenic (n = 48), non-fluent (n = 54) and semantic (n = 96) variant primary progressive aphasias. We investigated whether the presence of learning disability or non-right-handedness was associated with differential effects on demographic, neuropsychological and neuroimaging features of primary progressive aphasia. We showed that a high frequency of learning disability was present only in the logopenic group (χ2 = 15.17, P < 0.001) and (χ2 = 11.51, P < 0.001) compared with semantic and non-fluent populations. In this group, learning disability was associated with earlier onset of disease, more isolated language symptoms, and more focal pattern of left posterior temporoparietal atrophy. Non-right-handedness was instead over-represented in the semantic group, at nearly twice the prevalence of the general population (χ2 = 6.34, P = 0.01). Within semantic variant primary progressive aphasia the right-handed and non-right-handed cohorts appeared homogeneous on imaging, cognitive profile, and structural analysis of brain symmetry. Lastly, the non-fluent group showed no increase in learning disability or non-right-handedness. Logopenic variant primary progressive aphasia and developmental dyslexia both manifest with phonological disturbances and posterior temporal involvement. Learning disability might confer vulnerability of this network to early-onset, focal Alzheimer’s pathology. Left-handedness has been described as a proxy for atypical brain hemispheric lateralization. As non-right-handedness was increased only in the semantic group, anomalous lateralization mechanisms might instead be related to frontotemporal lobar degeneration with abnormal TARDBP. Taken together, this study suggests that neurodevelopmental signatures impart differential trajectories towards neurodegenerative disease.
Alzheimer’s disease; frontotemporal dementia; dementia aphasia; case control study; risk factors in epidemiology
Cross-sectional studies of normal aging indicate an association between memory and hippocampal volume, and between executive functioning and subcortical-frontal circuits. Much less is known, however, about the relationship between longitudinal MRI changes and cognitive decline. The authors hypothesized that longitudinal change in memory would be best predicted by change in hippocampal volumes, whereas change in executive functioning would be best predicted by cortical atrophy and progression of MRI markers of cerebrovascular disease. For this study, 50 healthy elderly subjects underwent structural MRI and cognitive testing at baseline and again at follow-up, with a mean follow-up interval of 45 months. Volumetric MRI measures were hippocampus, cortical gray matter, white matter signal hyperintensity (WMSH), and lacunae. Neuropsychological measures were psychometrically robust composite scores of episodic memory (MEM) and executive functioning (EXEC). Hierarchical multiple regression indicated that a decrease in hippocampus was associated with a decline in MEM, whereas decreased cortical gray matter and increased WMSH were independently associated with a decline in EXEC. Results suggest that in normal aging, cognitive functioning declines as cortical gray matter and hippocampus decrease, and WMSH increases. The association between WMSH and EXEC further highlights the cognitive sequealae associated with cerebrovascular disease in normal elderly.
normal aging; memory; executive function; hippocampal volumes; white matter signal hyperintensity
Recently, Coppola and colleagues demonstrated that a rare MAPT sequence variant, c.454G>A (p.A152T), significantly increases the risk of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) spectrum disorders and Alzheimer's disease (AD) in a screen of 15,369 subjects1. We describe clinical features of 9 patients with neurodegenerative disease (4 women) harboring p.A152T, aged 51 to 79 years at symptom onset. Seven developed FTD spectrum clinical syndromes, including progressive supranuclear palsy syndrome (PSP, n=2), behavioral variant FTD (bvFTD, n=1), nonfluent variant primary progressive aphasia (nfvPPA, n=2), and corticobasal syndrome (CBS, n=2); two patients were diagnosed with clinical AD. Thus, MAPT p.A152T is associated with a variety of FTD spectrum clinical presentations, although patients with clinical AD are also identified. These data warrant larger studies with clinicopathological correlation to elucidate the influence of this genetic variant on neurodegenerative disease.
All Cognitive Disorders/Dementia; Alzheimer's disease; Frontotemporal Dementia; Corticobasal degeneration; Progressive Supranuclear Palsy
The aims of this study were to examine executive dysfunction using an antisaccade (AS) task in normal elderly (NE) and patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and Alzheimer disease (AD) as well as to evaluate the relationship between AS performance and cortical thinning within AD-associated regions.
We recorded eye movements in 182 subjects (NE: 118; MCI: 36; AD: 28) during an AS task. We also performed neuropsychological measures of executive function for comparison. Brain MRI scans were collected on most subjects, and cortical thickness was determined in 9 regions known to exhibit atrophy in AD dementia (“AD signature”). We investigated the relationships between AS and neuropsychological performance, as well as possible correlations between AS performance and cortical thickness.
AS performance in MCI resembled that in NE; subjects with AD were impaired relative to both MCI and NE. In all subjects, AS performance correlated with neuropsychological measures of executive function, even after controlling for disease severity. In the subjects with MCI but not in NE, cortical thickness in frontoparietal AD signature regions correlated with AS performance.
The AS task is a useful measure of executive function across the AD spectrum. In MCI, AS performance may reflect disease burden within cortical brain regions involved in oculomotor control; however, AS impairments in NE may have etiologies other than incipient AD.
The neural organization of semantic memory remains much debated. A ‘distributed-only’ view contends that semantic knowledge is represented within spatially distant, modality-selective primary and association cortices. Observations in semantic variant primary progressive aphasia have inspired an alternative model featuring the anterior temporal lobe as an amodal hub that supports semantic knowledge by linking distributed modality-selective regions. Direct evidence has been lacking, however, to support intrinsic functional interactions between an anterior temporal lobe hub and upstream sensory regions in humans. Here, we examined the neural networks supporting semantic knowledge by performing a multimodal brain imaging study in healthy subjects and patients with semantic variant primary progressive aphasia. In healthy subjects, the anterior temporal lobe showed intrinsic connectivity to an array of modality-selective primary and association cortices. Patients showed focal anterior temporal lobe degeneration but also reduced physiological integrity throughout distributed modality-selective regions connected with the anterior temporal lobe in healthy controls. Physiological deficits outside the anterior temporal lobe correlated with scores on semantic tasks and with anterior temporal subregion atrophy, following domain-specific and connectivity-based predictions. The findings provide a neurophysiological basis for the theory that semantic processing is orchestrated through interactions between a critical anterior temporal lobe hub and modality-selective processing nodes.
anterior temporal lobe; semantic dementia; cognition; semantics; functional neuroimaging
Aging is the primary risk factor for cognitive decline, an emerging health threat to aging societies worldwide. Whether anti-aging factors such as klotho can counteract cognitive decline is unknown. We show that a life span-extending variant of the human KLOTHO gene, KL-VS, is associated with enhanced cognition in heterozygous carriers. Because this allele increased klotho levels in serum, we analyzed transgenic mice with systemic overexpression of klotho. They performed better than controls in multiple tests of learning and memory. Elevating klotho in mice also enhanced long-term potentiation, a form of synaptic plasticity, and enriched synaptic GluN2B, an NMDA receptor subunit with key functions in learning and memory. Blockade of GluN2B abolished klotho-mediated effects. Surprisingly, klotho effects were evident also in young mice and did not correlate with age in humans, suggesting independence from the aging process. Augmenting klotho or its effects may enhance cognition at different life stages and counteract cognitive decline.
Hexanucleotide repeat expansions in chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9ORF72) are causative for frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and motor neuron disease (MND). Substantial phenotypic heterogeneity has been described in patients with these expansions. We set out to identify genetic modifiers of disease risk, age at onset, and survival after onset that may contribute to this clinical variability.
We examined a cohort of 330 C9ORF72 expansion carriers and 374 controls. In these individuals, we assessed variants previously implicated in FTD and/or MND; 36 variants were included in our analysis. After adjustment for multiple testing, our analysis revealed three variants significantly associated with age at onset (rs7018487 [UBAP1; p-value = 0.003], rs6052771 [PRNP; p-value = 0.003], and rs7403881 [MT-Ie; p-value = 0.003]), and six variants significantly associated with survival after onset (rs5848 [GRN; p-value = 0.001], rs7403881 [MT-Ie; p-value = 0.001], rs13268953 [ELP3; p-value = 0.003], the epsilon 4 allele [APOE; p-value = 0.004], rs12608932 [UNC13A; p-value = 0.003], and rs1800435 [ALAD; p-value = 0.003]).
Variants identified through this study were previously reported to be involved in FTD and/or MND, but we are the first to describe their effects as potential disease modifiers in the presence of a clear pathogenic mutation (i.e. C9ORF72 repeat expansion). Although validation of our findings is necessary, these variants highlight the importance of protein degradation, antioxidant defense and RNA-processing pathways, and additionally, they are promising targets for the development of therapeutic strategies and prognostic tests.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1750-1326-9-38) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
C9ORF72; Frontotemporal dementia; Motor neuron disease; Genetic modifier; Repeat expansion
The contribution of inflammation to deleterious aging outcomes is increasingly recognized; however, little is known about the complex relationship between interleukin-6 (IL-6) and brain structure, or how this association might change with increasing age. We examined the association between IL-6, white matter integrity, and cognition in 151 community dwelling older adults, and tested whether age moderated these associations. Blood levels of IL-6 and vascular risk (e.g., homocysteine), as well as health history information, were collected. Processing speed assessments were administered to assess cognitive functioning, and we employed tract-based spatial statistics to examine whole brain white matter and regions of interest. Given the association between inflammation, vascular risk, and corpus callosum (CC) integrity, fractional anisotropy (FA) of the genu, body, and splenium represented our primary dependent variables. Whole brain analysis revealed an inverse association between IL-6 and CC fractional anisotropy. Subsequent ROI linear regression and ridge regression analyses indicated that the magnitude of this effect increased with age; thus, older individuals with higher IL-6 levels displayed lower white matter integrity. Finally, higher IL-6 levels were related to worse processing speed; this association was moderated by age, and was not fully accounted for by CC volume. This study highlights that at older ages, the association between higher IL-6 levels and lower white matter integrity is more pronounced; furthermore, it underscores the important, albeit burgeoning role of inflammatory processes in cognitive aging trajectories.
The aetiology and pathogenesis of non-genetic forms of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is unknown and even with the genetic forms of FTD, pathogenesis remains elusive. Given the association between systemic inflammation and other neurodegenerative processes, links between autoimmunity and FTD need to be explored.
To describe the prevalence of systemic autoimmune disease in semantic variant primary progressive aphasia (svPPA), a clinical cohort, and in progranulin (PGRN) mutation carriers compared to neurologically healthy normal controls (NC) and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) as dementia controls.
Academic medical centres.
129 svPPA, 39 PGRN, 186 NC, and 158 AD patients underwent chart review for autoimmune conditions. A large subset of svPPA, PGRN, and NC cohorts underwent serum analysis for tumor necrosis factor α (TNF-α) levels.
Chi-square comparison of autoimmune prevalence and follow up logistic regression.
There was a significantly increased risk of autoimmune disorders clustered around inflammatory arthritides, cutaneous disorders, and gastrointestinal conditions in the svPPA and PGRN cohorts. Elevated TNF-α levels were observed in svPPA and PGRN compared to NC.
svPPA and PGRN are associated with increased prevalence of specific and related autoimmune diseases compared to NC and AD. These findings suggest a unique pattern of systemic inflammation in svPPA and PGRN and open new research avenues for understanding and treating disorders associated with underlying transactive response DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) aggregation.
To investigate how acetylcholinesterase inhibitor (ChEI) treatment impacts brain function in Parkinson’s disease (PD).
Twelve patients with PD and either dementia or mild cognitive impairment underwent task-free functional magnetic resonance imaging before and after three months of ChEI treatment and were compared to 15 age and sex matched neurologically healthy controls. Regional spontaneous brain activity was measured using the fractional amplitude of low frequency fluctuations.
At baseline, patients showed reduced spontaneous brain activity in regions important for motor control (e.g., caudate, supplementary motor area, precentral gyrus, thalamus), attention and executive functions (e.g., lateral prefrontal cortex), and episodic memory (e.g., precuneus, angular gyrus, hippocampus). After treatment, the patients showed a similar but less extensive pattern of reduced spontaneous brain activity relative to controls. Spontaneous brain activity deficits in the left premotor cortex, inferior frontal gyrus, and supplementary motor area were restored such that the activity was increased post-treatment compared to baseline and was no longer different from controls. Treatment-related increases in left premotor and inferior frontal cortex spontaneous brain activity correlated with parallel reaction time improvement on a test of controlled attention.
PD patients with cognitive impairment show numerous regions of decreased spontaneous brain function compared to controls, and rivastigmine is associated with performance-related normalization in left frontal cortex function.
acetylcholine (D02.092.211.111); magnetic resonance imaging functional (E01.370.350.825.500); attention (F02.830.104.214); Acetylcholinesterase Inhibitors (D27.505.519.389.275) executive control (F02.463.217)
Understanding neural network dysfunction in neurodegenerative disease is imperative to effectively develop network-modulating therapies. In Alzheimer’s disease (AD), cognitive decline associates with deficits in resting-state functional connectivity of diffuse brain networks. The goal of the current study was to test whether specific cognitive impairments in AD spectrum correlate with reduced functional connectivity of distinct brain regions. We recorded resting-state functional connectivity of alpha-band activity in 27 patients with AD spectrum − 22 patients with probable AD (5 logopenic variant primary progressive aphasia, 7 posterior cortical atrophy, and 10 early-onset amnestic/dysexecutive AD) and 5 patients with mild cognitive impairment due to AD. We used magnetoencephalographic imaging (MEGI) to perform an unbiased search for regions where patterns of functional connectivity correlated with disease severity and cognitive performance. Functional connectivity measured the strength of coherence between a given region and the rest of the brain. Decreased neural connectivity of multiple brain regions including the right posterior perisylvian region and left middle frontal cortex correlated with a higher degree of disease severity. Deficits in executive control and episodic memory correlated with reduced functional connectivity of the left frontal cortex, whereas visuospatial impairments correlated with reduced functional connectivity of the left inferior parietal cortex. Our findings indicate that reductions in region-specific alpha-band resting-state functional connectivity are strongly correlated with, and might contribute to, specific cognitive deficits in AD spectrum. In the future, MEGI functional connectivity could be an important biomarker to map and follow defective networks in the early stages of AD.
•Magnetoencephalographic imaging (MEGI) measures brain functional connectivity.•We investigated MEGIalpha-band connectivity in a cohort with Alzheimer’s disease spectrum.•Decreased connectivity of multiple brain regions correlates with disease severity.•Decreased connectivity of focal brain regions correlates with cognitive deficits.•MEGI is a novel, unbiased approach to map neural network defects in dementia.
Alzheimer’s disease spectrum; Magnetoencephalography (MEG); Resting-state functional connectivity; Network dysfunction; Posterior cortical atrophy; Logopenic variant PPA; CDR-SOB, Clinical Dementia Rating Sum of Boxes; CVLT, California Verbal Learning Test; fMRI, functional magnetic resonance imaging; lvPPA, logopenic variant primary progressive aphasia; MCI, mild cognitive impairment; MEGI, magnetoencephalographic imaging; MMSE, Mini-Mental State Exam; PCA, posterior cortical atrophy; VOSP, Visual Object and Space Perception
Patients with neurodegenerative disease show distinct patterns of personality change, some of which may be traced to focal neurologic damage, while others may be mediated by cultural reactions to functional impairment. While such changes are early and pervasive in behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD), and milder changes are seen in Alzheimer’s (AD), no study has examined all Big 5 factors of personality in mild cognitive impairment (MCI) patients. Also, the influence of culture and ethnicity on disease-related personality changes has seldom been examined. Premorbid and current personality were measured in 47 Greek patients with bvFTD, AD, and MCI according to informant reports using the TPQue5, a 5-factor inventory in the Greek language and accounting for Greek cultural factors. bvFTDs showed greater decreases in conscientiousness than ADs and MCIs. ADs and MCIs showed increased neuroticism, while the bvFTD patients were rated as having become much less neurotic in the course of their disease. The pattern of personality change in MCIs was very similar to that of ADs, supporting recent evidence that personality changes occur as early as the MCI disease stage. In all groups, personality changes were similar to those previously described in non-Mediterranean cultures, supporting the hypothesis that they may result directly from disease-specific neurologic processes.
personality; frontotemporal dementia; Alzheimer’s disease; mild cognitive impairment; Big Five
Large-scale brain networks are integral to the coordination of human behaviour, and their anatomy provides insights into the clinical presentation and progression of neurodegenerative illnesses such as Alzheimer’s disease, which targets the default mode network, and behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia, which targets a more anterior salience network. Although the default mode network is recruited when healthy subjects deliberate about ‘personal’ moral dilemmas, patients with Alzheimer’s disease give normal responses to these dilemmas whereas patients with behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia give abnormal responses to these dilemmas. We hypothesized that this apparent discrepancy between activation- and patient-based studies of moral reasoning might reflect a modulatory role for the salience network in regulating default mode network activation. Using functional magnetic resonance imaging to characterize network activity of patients with behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia and healthy control subjects, we present four converging lines of evidence supporting a causal influence from the salience network to the default mode network during moral reasoning. First, as previously reported, the default mode network is recruited when healthy subjects deliberate about ‘personal’ moral dilemmas, but patients with behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia producing atrophy in the salience network give abnormally utilitarian responses to these dilemmas. Second, patients with behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia have reduced recruitment of the default mode network compared with healthy control subjects when deliberating about these dilemmas. Third, a Granger causality analysis of functional neuroimaging data from healthy control subjects demonstrates directed functional connectivity from nodes of the salience network to nodes of the default mode network during moral reasoning. Fourth, this Granger causal influence is diminished in patients with behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia. These findings are consistent with a broader model in which the salience network modulates the activity of other large-scale networks, and suggest a revision to a previously proposed ‘dual-process’ account of moral reasoning. These findings also characterize network interactions underlying abnormal moral reasoning in frontotemporal dementia, which may serve as a model for the aberrant judgement and interpersonal behaviour observed in this disease and in other disorders of social function. More broadly, these findings link recent work on the dynamic interrelationships between large-scale brain networks to observable impairments in dementia syndromes, which may shed light on how diseases that target one network also alter the function of interrelated networks.
moral reasoning; frontotemporal dementia; salience network; default mode network; functional neuroimaging
To describe patients with progranulin gene (GRN) mutations and evidence of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology
Two case reports and literature review
University of California San Francisco Memory and Aging Center
Two unrelated patients with GRN mutations
One patient presented at age 65 with a clinical syndrome suggestive of AD and showed evidence of amyloid aggregation on positron emission tomography. Another patient presented at age 54 with logopenic progressive aphasia and at autopsy showed both frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TDP-43 inclusions and AD.
In addition to autosomal-dominant frontotemporal lobar degeneration, mutations in GRN may be a risk factor for AD clinical phenotypes and neuropathology.
Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) neurofilament light chain (NfL) concentration is elevated in neurological disorders including frontotemporal degeneration (FTD). We investigated the clinical correlates of elevated CSF NfL levels in FTD.
CSF NfL, amyloid-β42 (Aβ42), tau and phosphorylated tau (ptau) concentrations were compared in 47 normal controls (NC), 8 asymptomatic gene carriers (NC2) of FTD-causing mutations, 79 FTD (45 behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia [bvFTD], 18 progressive nonfluent aphasia [PNFA], 16 semantic dementia [SD]), 22 progressive supranuclear palsy, 50 Alzheimer’s disease, 6 Parkinson’s disease and 17 corticobasal syndrome patients. Correlations between CSF analyte levels were performed with neuropsychological measures and the Clinical Dementia Rating scale sum of boxes (CDRsb). Voxel-based morphometry of structural MR images determined the relationship between brain volume and CSF NfL.
Mean CSF NfL concentrations were higher in bvFTD, SD and PNFA than other groups. NfL in NC2 was similar to NC. CSF NfL, but not other CSF measures, correlated with CDRsb and neuropsychological measures in FTD, and not in other diagnostic groups. Analyses in two independent FTD cohorts and a group of autopsy verified or biomarker enriched cases confirmed the larger group analysis. In FTD, gray and white matter volume negatively correlated with CSF NfL concentration, such that individuals with highest NfL levels exhibited the most atrophy.
CSF NfL is elevated in symptomatic FTD and correlates with disease severity. This measurement may be a useful surrogate endpoint of disease severity in FTD clinical trials. Longitudinal studies of CSF NfL in FTD are warranted.
Epileptic activity associated with Alzheimer disease (AD) deserves increased attention because it has a harmful impact on these patients, can easily go unrecognized and untreated, and may reflect pathogenic processes that also contribute to other aspects of the illness. We report key features of AD-related seizures and epileptiform activity that are instructive for clinical practice and highlight similarities between AD and transgenic animal models of the disease.
To describe common clinical characteristics and treatment outcomes of patients with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) or early AD who also have epilepsy or subclinical epileptiform activity.
Retrospective observational study from 2007 to 2012.
Memory and Aging Center, University of California, San Francisco.
We studied 54 patients with a diagnosis of aMCI plus epilepsy (n = 12), AD plus epilepsy (n = 35), and AD plus subclinical epileptiform activity (n = 7).
MAIN OUTCOMES AND MEASURES
Clinical and demographic data, electroencephalogram (EEG) readings, and treatment responses to antiepileptic medications.
Patients with aMCI who had epilepsy presented with symptoms of cognitive decline 6.8 years earlier than patients with aMCI who did not have epilepsy (64.3 vs 71.1 years; P = .02). Patients with AD who had epilepsy presented with cognitive decline 5.5 years earlier than patients with AD who did not have epilepsy (64.8 vs 70.3 years; P = .001). Patients with AD who had subclinical epileptiform activity also had an early onset of cognitive decline (58.9 years). The timing of seizure onset in patients with aMCI and AD was nonuniform (P < .001), clustering near the onset of cognitive decline. Epilepsies were most often complex partial seizures (47%) and more than half were nonconvulsive (55%). Serial or extended EEG monitoring appeared to be more effective than routine EEG at detecting interictal and subclinical epileptiform activity. Epileptic foci were predominantly unilateral and temporal. Of the most commonly prescribed antiepileptics, treatment outcomes appeared to be better for lamotrigine and levetiracetam than for phenytoin.
CONCLUSIONS AND RELEVANCE
Common clinical features of patients with aMCI- or AD-associated epilepsy at our center included early age at onset of cognitive decline, early incidence of seizures in the disease course, unilateral temporal epileptic foci detected by serial/extended EEG, transient cognitive dysfunction, and good seizure control and tolerability with lamotrigine and levetiracetam. Careful identification and treatment of epilepsy in such patients may improve their clinical course.
Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) has been conceptualized as a large-scale network disruption, but the specific network targeted has not been fully characterized. We sought to delineate the affected network in patients with clinical PSP.
Using task-free fMRI, we mapped intrinsic connectivity to the dorsal midbrain tegmentum (dMT), a region which shows focal atrophy in PSP. Two healthy control groups (1 young, 1 older) were used to define and replicate the normal connectivity pattern, and patients with PSP were compared to an independent matched healthy control group on measures of network connectivity.
Healthy young and older subjects showed a convergent pattern of connectivity to the dMT, including brainstem, cerebellar, diencephalic, basal ganglia, and cortical regions involved in skeletal, oculomotor, and executive control. Patients with PSP showed significant connectivity disruptions within this network, particularly within cortico-subcortical and cortico-brainstem interactions. Patients with more severe functional impairment showed lower mean dMT network connectivity scores.
This study defines a PSP-related intrinsic connectivity network in the healthy brain and demonstrates the sensitivity of network-based imaging methods to PSP-related physiological and clinical changes.