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1.  Prenatal healthcare providers’ Gaucher disease carrier screening practices 
Gaucher disease (GD) carrier screening is controversial in the medical community. The goal of this study was to explore prenatal healthcare providers’ current GD carrier screening practices.
Prenatal healthcare providers were invited by email to complete an electronic-based survey.
A total of 1454 prenatal healthcare providers, including 209 genetic counselors, 450 midwives, and 795 physicians, completed the study. The majority of genetic counselors (n=208/209, >99%), physicians (n=415/450, 92%), and midwives (n=634/795, 80%) currently offer Jewish ancestry disease carrier screening to couples in whom one or both partners are Jewish. Of providers who offer Jewish ancestry disease screening, the majority of genetic counselors (n=199/208, 96%) and physicians (n=352/415, 85%) always or sometimes offer GD screening whereas the majority of midwives (n=357/634, 56%) never offer GD screening.
This study presents the first report of prenatal healthcare providers’ GD carrier screening practices in North America. Our results indicate that GD carrier screening is being offered at a high rate within the scope of Jewish ancestry-based carrier screening. This may highlight a need to move away from the debate as to whether GD carrier screening should be offered and, instead, focus on how best to provide GD carrier screening services.
PMCID: PMC3530379  PMID: 22653536
Gaucher disease; prenatal healthcare providers; carrier screening; practices; survey
2.  Development and Validation of Pedigree Classification Criteria for Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration 
JAMA neurology  2013;70(11):1411-1417.
A significant portion of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is due to inherited gene mutations, and we are unaware of a large sequential series that includes a recently discovered inherited cause of FTLD. There is also great need to develop clinical tools and approaches that will assist clinicians in the identification and counseling of patients with FTLD and their families regarding the likelihood of an identifiable genetic cause.
To ascertain the frequency of inherited FTLD and develop validated pedigree classification criteria for FTLD that provide a standardized means to evaluate pedigree information and insight into the likelihood of mutation-positive genetic test results for C9orf72, MAPT, and GRN.
Information about pedigrees and DNA was collected from 306 serially assessed patients with a clinical diagnosis of FTLD. This information included gene test results for C9orf72, MAPT, and GRN. Pedigree classification criteria were developed based on a literature review of FTLD genetics and pedigree tools and then refined by reviewing mutation-positive and -negative pedigrees to determine differentiating characteristics.
Academic medical center.
Patients with FTLD.
Familial risk.
The rate of C9orf72, MAPT, or GRN mutation–positive FTLD in this series was 15.4%. Categories designating the risk level for hereditary cause were termed high, medium, low, apparent sporadic, and unknown significance. Thirty-nine pedigrees (12.7%)met criteria for high, 31 (10.1%) for medium, 46 (15.0%) for low, 91 (29.7%) for apparent sporadic, and 99 (32.4%) for unknown significance. The mutation-detection rates were as follows: high, 64.1%; medium, 29%; low, 10.9%; apparent sporadic, 1.1%; and unknown significance, 7.1%. Mutation-detection rates differed significantly between the high and other categories.
Mutation rates are high in FTLD spectrum disorders, and the proposed criteria provide a validated standard for the classification of FTLD pedigrees. The combination of pedigree criteria and mutation-detection rates has important implications for genetic counseling and testing in clinical settings.
PMCID: PMC3906581  PMID: 24081456
3.  TDP-43 skeins show properties of amyloid in a subset of ALS cases 
Acta neuropathologica  2012;125(1):121-131.
Aggregation of TDP-43 proteins to form intracellular inclusions is the primary pathology in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) with TDP-43 inclusions (FTLD-TDP). Histologically, in the cerebral cortex and limbic regions of affected ALS and FTLD-TDP patients, these pathologies occur as a variety of cytoplasmic, neuritic and intranuclear TDP-43 inclusions. In the spinal cord and lower brainstem of ALS patients, the lesions form cytoplasmic dashes or complex filamentous and spherical profiles in addition to skein-like inclusions (SLI). Ultrastructurally, the morphology of TDP-43 inclusions is heterogeneous but mainly composed of loose bundles of 10–20 nm diameter straight filaments associated with electron dense granular material. All of these TDP-43 inclusions are generally described as disordered amorphous aggregations unlike the amyloid fibrils that characterize protein accumulations in neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease and Parkinson’s disease.
We here report that Thioflavin-S positive SLI are present in a subset of ALS cases, while TDP-43 inclusions outside the spinal cord lack the chemical properties of amyloid. Further, we examine the differential enrichment of fibrillar profiles in SLI of ALS cases by TDP-43 immuno-electron microscopy (immuno-EM). The demonstration that pathological TDP-43 can be amyloidogenic in situ suggests the following conclusions: 1) the conformational changes associated with TDP-43 aggregation are more complex than previously thought; 2) Thioflavin-S positive SLI may be composed primarily of filamentous ultrastructures.
PMCID: PMC3536927  PMID: 23124365
TDP-43; amyloid; skein; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; ALS; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; FTLD-TDP
4.  White Matter Imaging Helps Dissociate Tau from TDP-43 in Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration 
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.
PMCID: PMC3737288  PMID: 23475817
5.  Topography of FUS pathology distinguishes late-onset BIBD from aFTLD-U 
Multiple neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by the abnormal accumulation of FUS protein including various subtypes of frontotemporal lobar degeneration with FUS inclusions (FTLD-FUS). These subtypes include atypical frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin-positive inclusions (aFTLD-U), basophilic inclusion body disease (BIBD) and neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease (NIFID). Despite considerable overlap, certain pathologic features including differences in inclusion morphology, the subcellular localization of inclusions, and the relative paucity of subcortical FUS pathology in aFTLD-U indicate that these three entities represent related but distinct diseases. In this study, we report the clinical and pathologic features of three cases of aFTLD-U and two cases of late-onset BIBD with an emphasis on the anatomic distribution of FUS inclusions.
The aFTLD-U cases demonstrated FUS inclusions in cerebral cortex, subcortical grey matter and brainstem with a predilection for anterior forebrain and rostral brainstem. In contrast, the distribution of FUS pathology in late-onset BIBD cases demonstrated a predilection for pyramidal and extrapyramidal motor regions with relative sparing of cerebral cortex and limbic regions.
The topography of FUS pathology in these cases demonstrate the diversity of sporadic FUS inclusion body diseases and raises the possibility that late-onset motor neuron disease with BIBD neuropathology may exhibit unique clinical and pathologic features.
PMCID: PMC3767453  PMID: 24027631
Frontotemporal dementia; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Motor neuron disease; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
7.  Expression of TMEM106B, the frontotemporal lobar degeneration-associated protein, in normal and diseased human brain 
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is the second most common cause of dementia in individuals under 65 years old and manifests as alterations in behavior, personality, or language secondary to degeneration of the frontal and/or temporal lobes. FTLD-TDP, the largest neuropathological subset of FTLD, is characterized by hyperphosphorylated, ubiquitinated TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) inclusions. Mutations in progranulin (GRN), a neuroprotective growth factor, are one of the most common Mendelian genetic causes of FTLD-TDP. Moreover, a recent genome-wide association study (GWAS) identified multiple SNPs within the uncharacterized gene TMEM106B that significantly associated with FTLD-TDP, suggesting that TMEM106B genotype confers risk for FTLD-TDP. Indeed, TMEM106B expression levels, which correlate with TMEM106B genotype, may play a role in the pathogenesis of disease.
Since little is known about TMEM106B and its expression in human brain, we performed immunohistochemical studies of TMEM106B in postmortem human brain samples from normal individuals, FTLD-TDP individuals with and without GRN mutations, and individuals with other neurodegenerative diseases. We find that TMEM106B protein is cytoplasmically expressed in both histopathologically affected and unaffected areas of the brain by neurons, glia, and endothelial cells/pericytes. Furthermore, we demonstrate that TMEM106B expression may differ among neuronal subtypes. Finally, we show that TMEM106B neuronal expression is significantly more disorganized in FTLD-TDP cases with GRN mutations, compared to normal and disease controls, including FTLD-TDP cases without GRN mutations.
Our data provide an initial neuropathological characterization of the newly discovered FTLD-TDP-associated protein TMEM106B. In addition, we demonstrate that FTLD-TDP cases with GRN mutations exhibit a loss of neuronal TMEM106B subcellular localization, adding to evidence that TMEM106B and progranulin may be pathophysiologically linked in FTLD-TDP.
PMCID: PMC3893524  PMID: 24252750
TMEM106B; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Frontotemporal dementia; TDP-43; Progranulin; FTLD-TDP
8.  TARDBP mutations in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis with TDP-43 neuropathology: a genetic and histopathological analysis 
Lancet neurology  2008;7(5):409-416.
TDP-43 is a major component of the ubiquitinated inclusions that characterise amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) with ubiquitin inclusions (FTLD-U). TDP-43 is an RNA-binding and DNA-binding protein that has many functions and is encoded by the TAR DNA-binding protein gene (TARDBP) on chromosome 1. Our aim was to investigate whether TARDBP is a candidate disease gene for familial ALS that is not associated with mutations in superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1).
TARDBP was sequenced in 259 patients with ALS, FTLD, or both. We used TaqMan-based SNP genotyping to screen for the identifi ed variants in control groups matched to two kindreds of patients for age and ethnic origin. Additional clinical, genetic, and pathological assessments were made in these two families.
We identified two variants, p.Gly290Ala and p.Gly298Ser, in TARDBP in two familial ALS kindreds and we observed TDP-43 neuropathology in the CNS tissue available from one family. The variants are considered pathogenic mutations because they co-segregate with disease in both families, are absent in ethnically-matched controls, and are associated with TDP-43 neuropathology in several family members.
The p.Gly290Ala and p.Gly298Ser mutations are located in the glycine-rich domain that regulates gene expression and mediates protein-protein interactions; in particular TDP-43 binds to heterogeneous ribonucleoproteins (hnRNPs) via this domain. We postulate that due to the varied and important cellular functions of TDP-43, these mutations may cause neurodegeneration through both gains and losses of function. The finding of TARDBP mutations implicates TDP-43 as an active mediator of neurodegeneration in a novel class of disorders, TDP-43 proteinopathies, a class of disorder that includes ALS and FTLD-U.
PMCID: PMC3546119  PMID: 18396105
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration due to mutations in the progranulin gene (PGRN) presents a high variability both in the clinical phenotype and age of onset of disease. Factors that influence this variability remain largely unknown. The aim of our study was to determine whether selected genetic variables modify age at onset of disease in our series of 21 patients with a single splicing mutation (c.709-1G>A) in the PGRN gene, all of whom were of Basque descent. In our analysis, we included the following genetic variables: PGRN rs5848 and rs9897526 polymorphisms, APOE and MAPT genotypes and PRNP codon 129 polymorphism. We found no association between PGRN polymorphisms, APOE and MAPT genotypes and age at onset of the disease; while we report evidence for an association between PRNP codon 129 polymorphism and age at onset of disease in frontotemporal dementia-PGRN(+) patients. MM homozygous carriers presented onset of disease on average 8.5 years earlier than patients who carried at least one valine on their PRNP codon 129 (MV or VV). The biological justification for this association remains speculative.
PMCID: PMC3540994  PMID: 20711061
APOE; PRNP codon 129; frontotemporal dementia; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; progranulin; prion protein gene
10.  Pattern of ubiquilin pathology in ALS and FTLD indicates presence of C9ORF72 hexanucleotide expansion 
Acta neuropathologica  2012;123(6):825-839.
C9OF72-hexanucleotide repeat expansions and ubiquilin-2 (UBQLN2) mutations are recently identified genetic markers in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). We investigate the relationship between C9ORF72 expansions and the clinical phenotype and neuropathology of ALS and FTLD. Genetic analysis and immunohistochemistry (1HC) were performed on autopsy-confirmed ALS (N = 75), FTLD-TDP (N = 30), AD (N = 14), and controls (N = 11). IHC for neurodegenerative disease pathology consisted of C9ORF72, UBQLN, p62, and TDP-43. A C9ORF72 expansion was identified in 19.4 % of ALS and 31 % of FTLD-TDP cases. ALS cases with C9ORF72 expansions frequently showed a bulbar onset of disease (57 %) and more rapid disease progression to death compared to non-expansion cases. Staining with C9ORF72 antibodies did not yield specific pathology. UBQLN pathology showed a highly distinct pattern in ALS and FTLD-TDP cases with the C9ORF72 expansion, with UBQLN-positive cytoplasmic inclusions in the cerebellar granular layer and extensive UBQLN-positive aggregates and dystrophic neurites in the hippocampal molecular layer and CA regions. These UBQLN pathologies were sufficiently unique to allow correct prediction of cases that were later confirmed to have C9ORF72 expansions by genetic analysis. UBQLN pathology partially co-localized with p62, and to a minor extent with TDP-43 positive dystrophic neurites and spinal cord skein-like inclusions. Our data indicate a pathophysiological link between C9ORF72 expansions and UBQLN proteins in ALS and FTLD-TDP that is associated with a highly characteristic pattern of UBQLN pathology. Our study indicates that this pathology is associated with alterations in clinical phenotype, and suggests that the presence of C9ORF72 repeat expansions may indicate a worse prognosis in ALS.
PMCID: PMC3521561  PMID: 22426854
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; C9ORF72; UBQLN2; UBQLN1
11.  TDP-43 Pathology in a Case of Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia with a NIPA1/SPG6 Mutation 
Acta neuropathologica  2012;124(2):285-291.
Mutations in NIPA1 (non-imprinted in Prader-Willi/Angelman syndrome) have been described as a cause of autosomal dominant hereditary spastic paraplegia (HSP) known as SPG6 (spastic paraplegia-6). We present the first neuropathological description of a patient with a NIPA1 mutation, and clinical phenotype of complicated HSP with motor neuron disease-like syndrome and cognitive decline. Postmortem examination revealed degeneration of lateral corticospinal tracts and dorsal columns with motor neuron loss. TDP-43 immunostaining showed widespread spinal cord and cerebral skein-like and round neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions. We ruled out NIPA1 mutations in 419 additional cases of motor neuron disease. These findings suggest that hereditary spastic paraplegia due to NIPA1 mutations could represent a TDP-43 proteinopathy.
PMCID: PMC3361549  PMID: 22302102
12.  Microglial Activation Correlates with Disease Progression and Upper Motor Neuron Clinical Symptoms in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis 
PLoS ONE  2012;7(6):e39216.
We evaluated clinicopathological correlates of upper motor neuron (UMN) damage in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), and analyzed if the presence of the C9ORF72 repeat expansion was associated with alterations in microglial inflammatory activity.
Microglial pathology was assessed by IHC with 2 different antibodies (CD68, Iba1), myelin loss by Kluver-Barrera staining and myelin basic protein (MBP) IHC, and axonal loss by neurofilament protein (TA51) IHC, performed on 59 autopsy cases of ALS including 9 cases with C9ORF72 repeat expansion.
Microglial pathology as depicted by CD68 and Iba1 was significantly more extensive in the corticospinal tract (CST) of ALS cases with a rapid progression of disease. Cases with C9ORF72 repeat expansion showed more extensive microglial pathology in the medulla and motor cortex which persisted after adjusting for disease duration in a logistic regression model. Higher scores on the clinical UMN scale correlated with increasing microglial pathology in the cervical CST. TDP-43 pathology was more extensive in the motor cortex of cases with rapid progression of disease.
This study demonstrates that microglial pathology in the CST of ALS correlates with disease progression and is linked to severity of UMN deficits.
PMCID: PMC3375234  PMID: 22720079
13.  Plasma EGF levels predict cognitive decline in Parkinson's Disease 
Annals of neurology  2010;69(4):655-663.
Most people with Parkinson's disease (PD) eventually develop cognitive impairment (CI). However, neither the timing of onset nor the severity of cognitive symptoms can be accurately predicted. We sought plasma-based biomarkers for CI in PD.
A discovery cohort of 70 PD patients was recruited. Cognitive status was evaluated with the Mattis Dementia Rating Scale-2 (DRS) at baseline and on annual follow-up visits, and baseline plasma levels of 102 proteins were determined with a bead-based immunoassay. Using linear regression, we identified biomarkers of CI in PD, i.e. proteins whose levels correlated with cognitive performance at baseline and/or cognitive decline at follow-up. We then replicated the association between cognitive performance and levels of the top biomarker, using a different technical platform, with a separate cohort of 113 PD patients.
Eleven proteins exhibited plasma levels correlating with baseline cognitive performance in the discovery cohort. The best candidate was epidermal growth factor (EGF, p<0.001); many of the other 10 analytes co-varied with EGF across samples. Low levels of EGF not only correlated with poor cognitive test scores at baseline, but also predicted an eightfold greater risk of cognitive decline to dementia-range DRS scores at follow-up for those with intact baseline cognition. A weaker, but still significant, relationship between plasma EGF levels and cognitive performance was found in an independent replication cohort of 113 PD patients.
Our data suggest that plasma EGF may be a biomarker for progression to CI in PD.
PMCID: PMC3155276  PMID: 21520231
Epidermal growth factor; EGF; Parkinson's Disease; Parkinson's Disease with Dementia; Biomarker; Plasma
14.  Exome sequencing reveals VCP mutations as a cause of familial ALS 
Neuron  2010;68(5):857-864.
Using exome sequencing, we identified a p.R191Q amino acid change in the valosin-containing protein (VCP) gene in an Italian family with autosomal dominantly inherited amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Mutations in VCP have previously been identified in families with Inclusion Body Myopathy, Paget’s disease and Frontotemporal Dementia (IBMPFD). Screening of VCP in a cohort of 210 familial ALS cases and 78 autopsy-proven ALS cases identified four additional mutations including a p.R155H mutation in a pathologically-proven case of ALS. VCP protein is essential for maturation of ubiquitin-containing autophagosomes, and mutant VCP toxicity is partially mediated through its effect on TDP-43 protein, a major constituent of ubiquitin inclusions that neuropathologically characterize ALS. Our data broaden the phenotype of IBMPFD to include motor neuron degeneration, suggest that VCP mutations may account for ~1–2% of familial ALS, and represent the first evidence directly implicating defects in the ubiquitination/protein degradation pathway in motor neuron degeneration.
PMCID: PMC3032425  PMID: 21145000
15.  Pathological 43-kDa Transactivation Response DNA-Binding Protein in Older Adults With and Without Severe Mental Illness 
Archives of neurology  2010;67(10):1238-1250.
Major psychiatric diseases such as schizophrenia and mood disorders have not been linked to a specific pathology, but their clinical features overlap with some aspects of the behavioral variant of frontotemporal lobar degeneration. Although the significance of pathological 43-kDa (transactivation response) DNA-binding protein (TDP-43) for frontotemporal lobar degeneration was appreciated only recently, the prevalence of TDP-43 pathology in patients with severe mental illness vs controls has not been systematically addressed.
To examine patients with chronic psychiatric diseases, mainlyschizophrenia, for evidence of neurodegenerative TDP-43 pathology in comparison with controls.
Prospective longitudinal clinical evaluation and retrospective medical record review, immunohistochemical identification of pathological TDP-43 in the central nervous system, and genotyping for gene alterations known to cause TDP-43 proteinopathies including the TDP-43 (TARDBP) and progranulin (GRN) genes.
University health system.
One hundred fifty-one subjects including 91 patients with severe mental illness (mainly schizophrenia) and 60 controls.
Main Outcome Measures
Clinical medical record review, neuronal and glial TDP-43 pathology, and TARDP and GRN genotyping status.
Significant TDP-43 pathology in the amygdala/periamygdaloid region or the hippocampus/transentorhinal cortex was absent in both groups in subjects younger than 65 years but present in elderly subjects (29% [25 of 86] of the psychiatric patients and 29% [10 of 34] of control subjects). Twenty-three percent (8 of 35) of the positive cases showed significant TDP-43 pathology in extended brain scans. There were no evident differences between the 2 groups in the frequency, degree, or morphological pattern of TDP-43 pathology. The latter included (1) subpial and subependymal, (2) focal, or (3) diffuse lesions in deep brain parenchyma and (4) perivascular pathology. A new GRN variant of unknown significance (c.620T>C, p.Met207Thr) was found in 1 patient with schizophrenia with TDP-43 pathology. No known TARDBP mutations or other variants were found in any of the subjects studied herein.
The similar findings of TDP-43 pathology in elderly patients with severe mental illness and controls suggest common age-dependent TDP-43 changes in limbic brain areas that may signify that these regions are affected early in the course of a cerebral TDP-43 multisystem proteinopathy. Finally, our data provide an age-related baseline for the development of whole-brain pathological TDP-43 evolution schemata.
PMCID: PMC3050578  PMID: 20937952
16.  Common variants at 7p21 are associated with frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TDP-43 inclusions 
Van Deerlin, Vivianna M. | Sleiman, Patrick M. A. | Martinez-Lage, Maria | Chen-Plotkin, Alice | Wang, Li-San | Graff-Radford, Neill R | Dickson, Dennis W. | Rademakers, Rosa | Boeve, Bradley F. | Grossman, Murray | Arnold, Steven E. | Mann, David M.A. | Pickering-Brown, Stuart M. | Seelaar, Harro | Heutink, Peter | van Swieten, John C. | Murrell, Jill R. | Ghetti, Bernardino | Spina, Salvatore | Grafman, Jordan | Hodges, John | Spillantini, Maria Grazia | Gilman, Sid' | Lieberman, Andrew P. | Kaye, Jeffrey A. | Woltjer, Randall L. | Bigio, Eileen H | Mesulam, Marsel | al-Sarraj, Safa | Troakes, Claire | Rosenberg, Roger N. | White, Charles L. | Ferrer, Isidro | Lladó, Albert | Neumann, Manuela | Kretzschmar, Hans A. | Hulette, Christine Marie | Welsh-Bohmer, Kathleen A. | Miller, Bruce L | Alzualde, Ainhoa | de Munain, Adolfo Lopez | McKee, Ann C. | Gearing, Marla | Levey, Allan I. | Lah, James J. | Hardy, John | Rohrer, Jonathan D. | Lashley, Tammaryn | Mackenzie, Ian R.A. | Feldman, Howard H. | Hamilton, Ronald L. | Dekosky, Steven T. | van der Zee, Julie | Kumar-Singh, Samir | Van Broeckhoven, Christine | Mayeux, Richard | Vonsattel, Jean Paul G. | Troncoso, Juan C. | Kril, Jillian J | Kwok, John B.J. | Halliday, Glenda M. | Bird, Thomas D. | Ince, Paul G. | Shaw, Pamela J. | Cairns, Nigel J. | Morris, John C. | McLean, Catriona Ann | DeCarli, Charles | Ellis, William G. | Freeman, Stefanie H. | Frosch, Matthew P. | Growdon, John H. | Perl, Daniel P. | Sano, Mary | Bennett, David A. | Schneider, Julie A. | Beach, Thomas G. | Reiman, Eric M. | Woodruff, Bryan K. | Cummings, Jeffrey | Vinters, Harry V. | Miller, Carol A. | Chui, Helena C. | Alafuzoff, Irina | Hartikainen, Päivi | Seilhean, Danielle | Galasko, Douglas | Masliah, Eliezer | Cotman, Carl W. | Tuñón, M. Teresa | Martínez, M. Cristina Caballero | Munoz, David G. | Carroll, Steven L. | Marson, Daniel | Riederer, Peter F. | Bogdanovic, Nenad | Schellenberg, Gerard D. | Hakonarson, Hakon | Trojanowski, John Q. | Lee, Virginia M.-Y.
Nature genetics  2010;42(3):234-239.
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.
PMCID: PMC2828525  PMID: 20154673
17.  Clinical and Pathological Characteristics of Patients with Leucine-Rich Repeat Kinase-2 Mutations 
Mutations in LRRK2 are the single most common known cause of Parkinson's disease (PD). Two new PD patients with LRRK2 mutation were identified from a cohort with extensive post-mortem assessment. One of these patients harbors the R793M mutation and presented with the typical clinical and pathological features of PD. A novel L1165P mutation was identified in a second patient. This patient had the classical and pathological features of PD, but additionally developed severe neuropsychological symptoms and dementia associated with abundant neurofibrillary tangles in the hippocampal formation; features consistent with a secondary diagnosis of tangle-predominant dementia. α-Synuclein-containing pathological inclusions in these patients also were highly phosphorylated at Ser-129, similar to other patients with idiopathic PD. These two PD patients also were characterized by the presence of occasional cytoplasmic TDP-43 inclusions in the temporal cortex, a finding that was not observed in three other patients with the G2019S mutation in LRRK2. These findings extend the clinical and pathological features that may be associated with LRRK2 mutations.
PMCID: PMC2634827  PMID: 19006185
Parkinson's disease/Parkinsonism; Genetics; Parkinson's disease with dementia; Leucine-rich repeat kinase-2 (Lrrk2)
18.  A90V TDP-43 Variant Results in the Aberrant Localization of TDP-43 In Vitro 
FEBS letters  2008;582(15):2252-2256.
TAR DNA-binding protein-43 (TDP-43) is a highly conserved, ubiquitously expressed nuclear protein that was recently identified as the disease protein in frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin positive inclusions (FTLD-U) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Pathogenic TDP-43 gene (TARDBP) mutations have been identified in familial ALS kindreds, and here we report a TARDBP variant (A90V) in a FTLD/ALS patient with a family history of dementia. Significantly, A90V is located between the bipartite nuclear localization signal sequence of TDP-43 and the in vitro expression of TDP-43-A90V led to its sequestration with endogenous TDP-43 as insoluble cytoplasmic aggregates. Thus, A90V may be a genetic risk factor for FTLD/ALS because it predisposes nuclear TDP-43 to redistribute to the cytoplasm and form pathological aggregates.
PMCID: PMC2478749  PMID: 18505686
19.  Variations in the progranulin gene affect global gene expression in frontotemporal lobar degeneration 
Human Molecular Genetics  2008;17(10):1349-1362.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration is a fatal neurodegenerative disease that results in progressive decline in behavior, executive function and sometimes language. Disease mechanisms remain poorly understood. Recently, however, the DNA- and RNA-binding protein TDP-43 has been identified as the major protein present in the hallmark inclusion bodies of frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitinated inclusions (FTLD-U), suggesting a role for transcriptional dysregulation in FTLD-U pathophysiology. Using the Affymetrix U133A microarray platform, we profiled global gene expression in both histopathologically affected and unaffected areas of human FTLD-U brains. We then characterized differential gene expression with biological pathway analyses, cluster and principal component analyses, and subgroup analyses based on brain region and progranulin (GRN) gene status. Comparing 17 FTLD-U brains to 11 controls, we identified 414 upregulated and 210 downregulated genes in frontal cortex (P-value < 0.001). Moreover, cluster and principal component analyses revealed that samples with mutations or possibly pathogenic variations in the GRN gene (GRN+, 7/17) had an expression signature that was distinct from both normal controls and FTLD-U samples lacking GRN gene variations (GRN-, 10/17). Within the subgroup of GRN+ FTLD-U, we found >1300 dysregulated genes in frontal cortex (P-value < 0.001), many participating in pathways uniquely dysregulated in the GRN+ cases. Our findings demonstrate a distinct molecular phenotype for GRN+ FTLD-U, not readily apparent on clinical or histopathological examination, suggesting distinct pathophysiological mechanisms for GRN+ and GRN- subtypes of FTLD-U. In addition, these data from a large number of human brains provide a valuable resource for future testing of disease hypotheses.
PMCID: PMC2900863  PMID: 18223198
20.  An evaluation of tyramide signal amplification and archived fixed and frozen tissue in microarray gene expression analysis 
Nucleic Acids Research  2002;30(2):e4.
Archival formalin-fixed, paraffin-embedded and ethanol-fixed tissues represent a potentially invaluable resource for gene expression analysis, as they are the most widely available material for studies of human disease. Little data are available evaluating whether RNA obtained from fixed (archival) tissues could produce reliable and reproducible microarray expression data. Here we compare the use of RNA isolated from human archival tissues fixed in ethanol and formalin to frozen tissue in cDNA microarray experiments. Since an additional factor that can limit the utility of archival tissue is the often small quantities available, we also evaluate the use of the tyramide signal amplification method (TSA), which allows the use of small amounts of RNA. Detailed analysis indicates that TSA provides a consistent and reproducible signal amplification method for cDNA microarray analysis, across both arrays and the genes tested. Analysis of this method also highlights the importance of performing non-linear channel normalization and dye switching. Furthermore, archived, fixed specimens can perform well, but not surprisingly, produce more variable results than frozen tissues. Consistent results are more easily obtainable using ethanol-fixed tissues, whereas formalin-fixed tissue does not typically provide a useful substrate for cDNA synthesis and labeling.
PMCID: PMC99843  PMID: 11788730
21.  C9ORF72 repeat expansions in cases with previously identified pathogenic mutations 
Neurology  2013;81(15):1332-1341.
To identify potential genetic modifiers contributing to the phenotypic variability that is detected in patients with repeat expansions in chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9ORF72), we investigated the frequency of these expansions in a cohort of 334 subjects previously found to carry mutations in genes known to be associated with a spectrum of neurodegenerative diseases.
A 2-step protocol, with a fluorescent PCR and a repeat-primed PCR, was used to determine the presence of hexanucleotide expansions in C9ORF72. For one double mutant, we performed Southern blots to assess expansion sizes, and immunohistochemistry to characterize neuropathology.
We detected C9ORF72 repeat expansions in 4 of 334 subjects (1.2% [or 1.8% of 217 families]). All these subjects had behavioral phenotypes and also harbored well-known pathogenic mutations in either progranulin (GRN: p.C466LfsX46, p.R493X, p.C31LfsX35) or microtubule-associated protein tau (MAPT: p.P301L). Southern blotting of one double mutant with a p.C466LfsX46 GRN mutation demonstrated a long repeat expansion in brain (>3,000 repeats), and immunohistochemistry showed mixed neuropathology with characteristics of both C9ORF72 expansions and GRN mutations.
Our findings indicate that co-occurrence of 2 evidently pathogenic mutations could contribute to the pleiotropy that is detected in patients with C9ORF72 repeat expansions. These findings suggest that patients with known mutations should not be excluded from further studies, and that genetic counselors should be aware of this phenomenon when advising patients and their family members.
PMCID: PMC3806926  PMID: 24027057
22.  Sequential distribution of pTDP-43 pathology in behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) 
Acta neuropathologica  2014;127(3):423-439.
We examined regional distribution patterns of phosphorylated 43-kDa TAr DNA-binding protein (pTDP-43) intraneuronal inclusions in frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). Immunohistochemistry was performed on 70 μm sections from FTLD-TDP autopsy cases (n = 39) presenting with behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia. Two main types of cortical pTDP-43 pathology emerged, characterized by either predominantly perikaryal pTDP-43 inclusions (cytoplasmic type, cFTLD) or long aggregates in dendrites (neuritic type, nFTLD). Cortical involvement in nFTLD was extensive and frequently reached occipital areas, whereas cases with cFTLD often involved bulbar somatomotor neurons and the spinal cord. We observed four patterns indicative of potentially sequential dissemination of pTDP-43: cases with the lowest burden of pathology (pattern I) were characterized by widespread pTDP-43 lesions in the orbital gyri, gyrus rectus, and amygdala. With increasing burden of pathology (pattern II) pTDP-43 lesions emerged in the middle frontal and anterior cingulate gyrus as well as in anteromedial temporal lobe areas, the superior and medial temporal gyri, striatum, red nucleus, thalamus, and precerebellar nuclei. More advanced cases showed a third pattern (III) with involvement of the motor cortex, bulbar somatomotor neurons, and the spinal cord anterior horn, whereas cases with the highest burden of pathology (pattern IV) were characterized by pTDP-43 lesions in the visual cortex. We interpret the four neuropathological patterns in bvFTD to be consistent with the hypothesis that pTDP-43 pathology can spread sequentially and may propagate along axonal pathways.
PMCID: PMC3971993  PMID: 24407427
ALS, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; FTLD, frontotemporal dementia; FTD; Neurodegeneration; Proteinopathies; TDP-43
23.  Cognitive decline and reduced survival in C9orf72 expansion Frontotemporal degeneration and Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 
Significant heterogeneity in clinical features of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) cases with the pathogenic C9orf72 expansion (C9P) have been described. To clarify this issue, we compared a large C9P cohort with carefully matched non-expansion (C9N) cases with a known or highly-suspected underlying TDP-43 proteinopathy.
A retrospective-cohort study using available cross-sectional and longitudinal clinical and neuropsychological data, MRI voxel-based morphometry (VBM) and neuropathological assessment from 64 C9P cases (ALS=31, FTLD=33) and 79 C9N cases (ALS=36, FTLD=43).
C9P cases had an earlier age of onset (p=0.047), and in the subset of deceased patients, an earlier age of death (p=0.014) than C9N. C9P had more rapid progression than C9N: C9P ALS cases had a shortened survival (2.6±0.3 years) compared to C9N ALS (3.8±0.4 years; log-rankλ2=4.183,p=0.041), and C9P FTLD showed a significantly greater annualized rate of decline in letter fluency (4.5±1.3words/year) than C9N FTLD (1.4±0.8words/year, p=0.023). VBM revealed greater atrophy in the right fronto-insular, thalamus, cerebellum and bilateral parietal regions for C9P FTLD relative to C9N FTLD, and regression analysis related verbal fluency scores to atrophy in frontal and parietal regions. Neuropathologic analysis found greater neuronal loss in the mid-frontal cortex in C9P FTLD, and mid-frontal cortex TDP-43 inclusion severity correlated with poor letter fluency performance.
C9P cases may have a shorter survival in ALS and more rapid rate of cognitive decline related to frontal and parietal disease in FTLD. C9orf72 genotyping may provide useful prognostic and diagnostic clinical information for ALS and FTLD patients.
PMCID: PMC3543474  PMID: 23117491
Frontotemporal dementia; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; C9orf72; neuropsychological tests; neuroimaging
24.  Can MRI screen for CSF biomarkers in neurodegenerative disease? 
Neurology  2013;80(2):132-138.
Alzheimer disease (AD) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) may have overlapping clinical presentations despite distinct underlying neuropathologies, thus making in vivo diagnosis challenging. In this study, we evaluate the utility of MRI as a noninvasive screening procedure for the differential diagnosis of AD and FTLD.
We recruited 185 patients with a clinically diagnosed neurodegenerative disease consistent with AD or FTLD who had a lumbar puncture and a volumetric MRI. A subset of 32 patients had genetic or autopsy-confirmed AD or FTLD. We used singular value decomposition to decompose MRI volumes and linear regression and cross-validation to predict CSF total tau (tt) and β-amyloid (Aβ1-42) ratio (tt/Aβ) in patients with AD and patients with FTLD. We then evaluated accuracy of MRI-based predicted tt/Aβ using 4 converging sources including neuroanatomic visualization and categorization of a subset of patients with genetic or autopsy-confirmed AD or FTLD.
Regression analyses showed that MRI-predicted tt/Aβ is highly related to actual CSF tt/Aβ. In each group, both predicted and actual CSF tt/Aβ have extensively overlapping neuroanatomic correlates: low tt/Aβ consistent with FTLD is related to ventromedial prefrontal regions while high tt/Aβ consistent with AD is related to posterior cortical regions. MRI-predicted tt/Aβ is 75% accurate at identifying underlying diagnosis in patients with known pathology and in clinically diagnosed patients with known CSF tt/Aβ levels.
MRI may serve as a noninvasive procedure that can screen for AD and FTLD pathology as a surrogate for CSF biomarkers.
PMCID: PMC3589187  PMID: 23269595
25.  Plasma multianalyte profiling in mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer disease 
Neurology  2012;79(9):897-905.
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.
PMCID: PMC3425844  PMID: 22855860

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