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1.  Age-at-Onset in Late Onset Alzheimer Disease is Modified by Multiple Genetic Loci 
JAMA neurology  2014;71(11):1394-1404.
As APOE locus variants contribute to both risk of late-onset Alzheimer disease and differences in age-at-onset, it is important to know if other established late-onset Alzheimer disease risk loci also affect age-at-onset in cases.
To investigate the effects of known Alzheimer disease risk loci in modifying age-at-onset, and to estimate their cumulative effect on age-at-onset variation, using data from genome-wide association studies in the Alzheimer’s Disease Genetics Consortium (ADGC).
Design, Setting and Participants
The ADGC comprises 14 case-control, prospective, and family-based datasets with data on 9,162 Caucasian participants with Alzheimer’s occurring after age 60 who also had complete age-at-onset information, gathered between 1989 and 2011 at multiple sites by participating studies. Data on genotyped or imputed single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) most significantly associated with risk at ten confirmed LOAD loci were examined in linear modeling of AAO, and individual dataset results were combined using a random effects, inverse variance-weighted meta-analysis approach to determine if they contribute to variation in age-at-onset. Aggregate effects of all risk loci on AAO were examined in a burden analysis using genotype scores weighted by risk effect sizes.
Main Outcomes and Measures
Age at disease onset abstracted from medical records among participants with late-onset Alzheimer disease diagnosed per standard criteria.
Analysis confirmed association of APOE with age-at-onset (rs6857, P=3.30×10−96), with associations in CR1 (rs6701713, P=7.17×10−4), BIN1 (rs7561528, P=4.78×10−4), and PICALM (rs561655, P=2.23×10−3) reaching statistical significance (P<0.005). Risk alleles individually reduced age-at-onset by 3-6 months. Burden analyses demonstrated that APOE contributes to 3.9% of variation in age-at-onset (R2=0.220) over baseline (R2=0.189) whereas the other nine loci together contribute to 1.1% of variation (R2=0.198).
Conclusions and Relevance
We confirmed association of APOE variants with age-at-onset among late-onset Alzheimer disease cases and observed novel associations with age-at-onset in CR1, BIN1, and PICALM. In contrast to earlier hypothetical modeling, we show that the combined effects of Alzheimer disease risk variants on age-at-onset are on the scale of, but do not exceed, the APOE effect. While the aggregate effects of risk loci on age-at-onset may be significant, additional genetic contributions to age-at-onset are individually likely to be small.
PMCID: PMC4314944  PMID: 25199842
Alzheimer Disease; Alzheimer Disease Genetics; Alzheimer’s Disease - Pathophysiology; Genetics of Alzheimer Disease; Aging
2.  Hypothyroidism and Risk of Mild Cognitive Impairment in Elderly Persons - A Population Based Study 
JAMA neurology  2014;71(2):201-207.
Association of clinical and subclinical hypothyroidism with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) is not established.
To evaluate the association of clinical and subclinical hypothyroidism with MCI in a large population based cohort.
A cross-sectional, population-based study.
Olmsted County, Minnesota.
Randomly selected participants were aged 70 to 89 years on October 1, 2004, and were without documented prevalent dementia. A total of 2,050 participants were evaluated and underwent in-person interview, neurological evaluation and neuropsychological testing to assess performance in memory, attention/executive function, visuospatial, and language domains. Subjects were diagnosed by consensus as cognitively normal, MCI or dementia according to published criteria. Clinical and subclinical hypothyroidism was ascertained from a medical records-linkage system.
Association of clinical and subclinical hypothyroidism with MCI.
Among 1904 eligible participants, the frequency of MCI was 16% in 1450 subjects with normal thyroid function, 17% in 313 subjects with clinical hypothyroidism, and 18% in 141 subjects with subclinical hypothyroidism. After adjusting for covariates (age, gender, education, education years, sex, ApoE ε 4, depression, diabetes, hypertension, stroke, BMI and coronary artery disease) we found no significant association between clinical or subclinial hypothyroidism and MCI [OR 0.99 (95% CI 0.66–1.48) and OR 0.88 (95% CI 0.38–2.03) respectively]. No effect of gender interaction was seen on these effects. In stratified analysis, the odds of MCI with clinical and subclinical hypothyroidisn among males was 1.02 (95%CI, 0.57–1.82) and 1.29 (95%CI 0.68–2.44), among females was 1.04 (95% 0.66–1.66) and 0.86 (95% CI 0.37–2.02) respectively.
In this population based cohort of eldery, neither clinical nor subclinical hypothyrpodism was associated with MCI. Our findings need to be validated in a separate settings using the published criteria for MCI and also confirmed in a longitudinal study.
PMCID: PMC4136444  PMID: 24378475
3.  Higher risk of progression to dementia in mild cognitive impairment cases who revert to normal 
Neurology  2014;82(4):317-325.
To estimate rates of progression from mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to dementia and of reversion from MCI to being cognitively normal (CN) in a population-based cohort.
Participants (n = 534, aged 70 years and older) enrolled in the prospective Mayo Clinic Study of Aging were evaluated at baseline and every 15 months to identify incident MCI or dementia.
Over a median follow-up of 5.1 years, 153 of 534 participants (28.7%) with prevalent or incident MCI progressed to dementia (71.3 per 1,000 person-years). The cumulative incidence of dementia was 5.4% at 1 year, 16.1% at 2, 23.4% at 3, 31.1% at 4, and 42.5% at 5 years. The risk of dementia was elevated in MCI cases (hazard ratio [HR] 23.2, p < 0.001) compared with CN subjects. Thirty-eight percent (n = 201) of MCI participants reverted to CN (175.0/1,000 person-years), but 65% subsequently developed MCI or dementia; the HR was 6.6 (p < 0.001) compared with CN subjects. The risk of reversion was reduced in subjects with an APOE ε4 allele (HR 0.53, p < 0.001), higher Clinical Dementia Rating Scale–Sum of Boxes (HR 0.56, p < 0.001), and poorer cognitive function (HR 0.56, p < 0.001). The risk was also reduced in subjects with amnestic MCI (HR 0.70, p = 0.02) and multidomain MCI (HR 0.61, p = 0.003).
MCI cases, including those who revert to CN, have a high risk of progressing to dementia. This suggests that diagnosis of MCI at any time has prognostic value.
PMCID: PMC3929198  PMID: 24353333
4.  Association of diabetes with amnestic and nonamnestic mild cognitive impairment 
Type 2 diabetes may increase the risk of amnestic mild cognitive impairment (aMCI) through Alzheimer's disease (AD)-related and vascular pathology and may also increase the risk of nonamnestic MCI (naMCI) through vascular disease mechanisms. We examined the association of type 2 diabetes with mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and MCI subtype (aMCI and naMCI) overall and by sex.
Participants were Olmsted County, Minnesota residents (70 years and older) enrolled in a prospective, population-based study. At baseline and every 15 months thereafter, participants were evaluated using the Clinical Dementia Rating scale, a neurological evaluation, and neuropsychological testing for a diagnosis of normal cognition, MCI, and dementia by a consensus panel. Type 2 diabetes was ascertained from the medical records of participants at baseline.
Over a median 4.0 years of follow-up, 348 of 1450 subjects developed MCI. Type 2 diabetes was associated (hazard ratio [95% confidence interval]) with MCI (1.39 [1.08–1.79]), aMCI (1.58 [1.17–2.15]; multiple domain: 1.58 [1.01–2.47]; single domain: 1.49 [1.09–2.05]), and the hazard ratio for naMCI was elevated (1.37 [0.84–2.24]). Diabetes was strongly associated with multiple-domain aMCI in men (2.42 [1.31–4.48]) and an elevated risk of multiple domain naMCI in men (2.11 [0.70–6.33]), and with single domain naMCI in women (2.32 [1.04–5.20]).
Diabetes was associated with an increased risk of MCI in elderly persons. The association of diabetes with MCI may vary with subtype, number of domains, and sex. Prevention and control of diabetes may reduce the risk of MCI and Alzheimer's disease.
PMCID: PMC3830601  PMID: 23562428
Mild cognitive impairment; Risk factors; Type 2 diabetes; Incidence; Cohort studies; Population-based studies; Sex differences; Diabetic retinopathy; Diabetic neuropathy
5.  Abnormal daytime sleepiness in dementia with Lewy bodies compared to Alzheimer’s disease using the Multiple Sleep Latency Test 
Excessive daytime sleepiness is a commonly reported problem in dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB). We examined the relationship between nighttime sleep continuity and the propensity to fall asleep during the day in clinically probable DLB compared to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) dementia.
A full-night polysomnography was carried out in 61 participants with DLB and 26 with AD dementia. Among this group, 32 participants with DLB and 18 with AD dementia underwent a daytime Multiple Sleep Latency Test (MSLT). Neuropathologic examinations of 20 participants with DLB were carried out.
Although nighttime sleep efficiency did not differentiate diagnostic groups, the mean MSLT initial sleep latency was significantly shorter in participants with DLB than in those with AD dementia (mean 6.4 ± 5 minutes vs 11 ± 5 minutes, P <0.01). In the DLB group, 81% fell asleep within 10 minutes compared to 39% of the AD dementia group (P <0.01), and 56% in the DLB group fell asleep within 5 minutes compared to 17% in the AD dementia group (P <0.01). Daytime sleepiness in AD dementia was associated with greater dementia severity, but mean MSLT latency in DLB was not related to dementia severity, sleep efficiency the night before, or to visual hallucinations, fluctuations, parkinsonism or rapid eye movement sleep behavior disorder. These data suggest that abnormal daytime sleepiness is a unique feature of DLB that does not depend on nighttime sleep fragmentation or the presence of the four cardinal DLB features. Of the 20 DLB participants who underwent autopsy, those with transitional Lewy body disease (brainstem and limbic) did not differ from those with added cortical pathology (diffuse Lewy body disease) in dementia severity, DLB core features or sleep variables.
Daytime sleepiness is more likely to occur in persons with DLB than in those with AD dementia. Daytime sleepiness in DLB may be attributed to disrupted brainstem and limbic sleep–wake physiology, and further work is needed to better understand the underlying mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC4266572  PMID: 25512763
6.  Nonamnestic mild cognitive impairment progresses to dementia with Lewy bodies 
Neurology  2013;81(23):2032-2038.
To determine the rate of progression of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) to dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB).
We followed 337 patients with MCI in the Mayo Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (range 2–12 years). Competing risks survival models were used to examine the rates of progression to clinically probable DLB and Alzheimer disease (AD). A subset of patients underwent neuropathologic examination.
In this clinical cohort, 116 remained as MCI, while 49 progressed to probable DLB, 162 progressed to clinically probable AD, and 10 progressed to other dementias. Among nonamnestic MCI, progression rate to probable DLB was 20 events per 100 person-years and to probable AD was 1.6 per 100 person-years. Among amnestic MCI, progression rate to probable AD was 17 events per 100 person-years, and to DLB was 1.5 events per 100 person-years. In 88% of those who developed probable DLB, the baseline MCI diagnosis included attention and/or visuospatial deficits. Those who developed probable DLB were more likely to have baseline daytime sleepiness and subtle parkinsonism. In 99% of the clinically probable AD group, the baseline MCI diagnosis included memory impairment. Neuropathologic confirmation was obtained in 24 of 30 of those with clinically probable AD, and in 14 of 18 of those with clinically probable DLB.
In a clinical sample, patients with nonamnestic MCI were more likely to develop DLB, and those with amnestic MCI were more likely to develop probable AD.
PMCID: PMC3854825  PMID: 24212390
7.  Treatment of Dementia with Lewy Bodies 
PMCID: PMC3913181  PMID: 24222315
Dementia with Lewy bodies; Treatment; Cholinesterase inhibitors; Parkinson's disease dementia; Antipsychotic; Dysautonomia; REM sleep behavior disorder
8.  MRI and pathology of REM sleep behavior disorder in dementia with Lewy bodies 
Neurology  2013;81(19):1681-1689.
To determine structural MRI and digital microscopic characteristics of REM sleep behavior disorder in individuals with low-, intermediate-, and high-likelihood dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) at autopsy.
Patients with autopsy-confirmed low-, intermediate-, and high-likelihood DLB, according to the probability statement recommended by the third report of the DLB Consortium, and antemortem MRI, were identified (n = 75). The clinical history was assessed for presence (n = 35) and absence (n = 40) of probable REM sleep behavior disorder (pRBD), and patients' antemortem MRIs were compared using voxel-based morphometry. Pathologic burdens of phospho-tau, β-amyloid, and α-synuclein were measured in regions associated with early neuropathologic involvement, the hippocampus and amygdala.
pRBD was present in 21 patients (60%) with high-likelihood, 12 patients (34%) with intermediate-likelihood, and 2 patients (6%) with low-likelihood DLB. Patients with pRBD were younger, more likely to be male (p ≤ 0.001), and had a more frequent neuropathologic diagnosis of diffuse (neocortical) Lewy body disease. In the hippocampus and amygdala, phospho-tau and β-amyloid burden were lower in patients with pRBD compared with those without pRBD (p < 0.01). α-Synuclein burden did not differ in the hippocampus, but trended in the amygdala. Patients without pRBD had greater atrophy of temporoparietal cortices, hippocampus, and amygdala (p < 0.001) than those with pRBD; atrophy of the hippocampus (p = 0.005) and amygdala (p = 0.02) were associated with greater phospho-tau burdens in these regions.
Presence of pRBD is associated with a higher likelihood of DLB and less severe Alzheimer-related pathology in the medial temporal lobes, whereas absence of pRBD is characterized by Alzheimer-like atrophy patterns on MRI and increased phospho-tau burden.
PMCID: PMC3812105  PMID: 24107861
9.  Diabetes and Elevated HbA1c levels are Associated with Brain Hypometabolism but not Amyloid Accumulation 
Dysfunctional insulin signaling may affect brain metabolism or amyloid deposition. We investigated the associations of type 2 diabetes with amyloid accumulation measured using 11C-Pittsburgh Compound B (PiB) and brain hypometabolism measured using 18F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) positron emission tomography (PET).
We studied a sample of non-demented participants from the population-based Mayo Clinic Study of Aging. All subjects underwent MRI, amyloid PET and FDG PET. Alzheimer’s disease (AD) signature and region of interest (ROI) measures for PiB retention ratio and FDG ratio were measured. Diabetes was assessed from the Rochester Epidemiology Project medical records-linkage system.
Among 749 participants (median age 79.0 years; 56.5% male, 81.0% cognitively normal; 20.6% diabetics), FDG hypometabolism (FDG ratio < 1.31) in the AD signature meta-ROI was more common in diabetics (48.1%) than in non-diabetics (28.9%; p <0.001). The median FDG ratio was lower in diabetics vs. non-diabetics in the AD signature meta-ROI (1.32 vs. 1.40, p < 0.001), and in the angular (1.40 vs. 1.48, p < 0.001) and posterior cingulate gyri ROIs (1.63 vs. 1.72, p < 0.001). The odds ratio (OR [95% confidence interval]) for abnormal AD signature FDG hypometabolism was elevated (OR, 2.28 [1.56, 3.33]) in diabetics vs. non-diabetics after adjustment for age, sex, and education, and after additional adjustment for Apolipoprotein ε4 allele, glycemic level, and cognitive status (OR, 1.69 [1.10, 2.60]). However, AD signature PiB retention ratio was similar in diabetics vs. non-diabetics (OR, 1.03 [0.71, 1.51]; p = 0.87). In post-hoc analyses in non-diabetics, a 1% increase in HBA1c was associated with greater AD signature hypometabolism in cognitively normal subjects (OR, 1.93 [1.03, 3.62; p = 0.04]) and in the total cohort (OR 1.59 [0.92, 2.75; p = 0.10).
Diabetes and poor glycemic control in non-diabetics may enhance glucose hypometabolism in AD signature regions. These factors should be investigated in longitudinal studies for their role in detecting onset of symptoms in AD.
PMCID: PMC4011952  PMID: 24652830
Diabetes; cerebral glucose metabolism; FDG- and PiB-PET imaging; hemoglobin A1c; amyloid accumulation
10.  Practice effects and longitudinal cognitive change in normal aging vs. incident mild cognitive impairment and dementia in the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging 
The Clinical neuropsychologist  2013;27(8):10.1080/13854046.2013.836567.
The objective of this study was to examine practice effects and longitudinal cognitive change in a population based cohort classified as clinically normal at their initial evaluation. We examined 1390 individuals with a median age of 78.1 years and re-evaluated them up to four times at approximate 15 month intervals, with an average follow-up time of five years. Of the 1390 participants, 947 (69%) individuals remained cognitively normal, 397 (29%) progressed to mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and 46 (3%) to dementia. The stable normal group showed an initial practice effect in all domains which was sustained in memory and visuospatial reasoning. There was only a slight decline in attention and language after visit 3. We combined individuals with incident MCI and dementia to form one group representing those who declined. The incident MCI/dementia group showed an unexpected practice effect in memory from baseline to visit 2, with a significant decline thereafter. This group did not demonstrate practice effects in any other domain and showed a downward trajectory in all domains at each evaluation. Modeling cognitive change in an epidemiologic sample may serve as a useful benchmark for evaluating cognitive change in future intervention studies.
PMCID: PMC3869900  PMID: 24041121
Cognition; memory; practice effects; mild cognitive impairment; Alzheimer’s disease
11.  Subtle gait changes in patients with REM Behavior Disorder 
Many people with REM sleep behavior disorder have an underlying synucleinopathy, the most common of which is Lewy body disease. Identifying additional abnormal clinical features may help in identifying those at greater risk of evolving to a more severe syndrome. As gait disorders are common in the synucleinopathies, early abnormalities in gait in those with REM sleep behavior disorder could help in identifying those at increased risk of developing overt parkinsonism and/or cognitive impairment.
We identified 42 probable REM sleep behavior disorder subjects and 492 controls using the Mayo Sleep Questionnaire and assessed gait velocity, cadence and stride dynamics with an automated gait analysis system.
Cases and controls were similar in age (79.9 ± 4.7 & 80.1 ± 4.7, p= 0.74), UPDRS score (3.3 ± 5.5 & 1.9 ± 4.1, p=0.21) and Mini-Mental State Examination scores (27.2 ± 1.9 & 27.7 ± 1.6, p=0.10). A diagnosis of probable REM sleep behavior disorder was associated with decreased velocity (−7.9 cm/sec, 95%CI −13.8 to −2.0, p<0.01), cadence (−4.4 steps/min, 95%CI −7.6 to −1.3, p<0.01), and significantly increased double limb support variability (30%, 95%CI 6 – 60, p=0.01), greater stride time variability (29%, 95%CI 2 – 63, p=0.03) and swing time variability (46%, 95%CI 15 – 84, p<0.01).
Probable REM sleep behavior disorder is associated with subtle gait changes prior to overt clinical parkinsonism. Diagnosis of probable REM sleep behavior disorder supplemented by gait analysis may help as a screening tool for disorders of α-synuclein.
PMCID: PMC3952497  PMID: 24130124
REM Sleep Behavior Disorder; gait; gait variability
12.  Incidence of Dementia with Lewy Bodies and Parkinson’s Disease Dementia 
JAMA neurology  2013;70(11):1396-1402.
Epidemiologic data on dementia with Lewy bodies (LBD) and Parkinson’s disease dementia (PDD) remain limited in the US and worldwide. These data are essential to guide research and clinical or public health interventions.
To investigate the incidence of DLB among residents of Olmsted County, MN, and compare it to the incidence of PDD.
The medical records-linkage system of the Rochester Epidemiology Project was used to identify all persons who developed parkinsonism and, in particular, DLB or PDD from 1991 through 2005 (15 years). A movement disorders specialist reviewed the complete medical records of each suspected patient to confirm the diagnosis.
Olmsted County, MN, from 1991 through 2005 (15 years).
Main Outcome Measure
Incidence of DLB and PDD.
All the residents of Olmsted County, MN who gave authorization for medical record research.
Among 542 incident cases of parkinsonism, 64 had DLB and 46 had PDD. The incidence rate of DLB was 3.5 per 100,000 person-years overall, and it increased steeply with age. Similarly, the incidence of PDD was 2.5 overall and also increased steeply with age. The incidence rate of DLB and PDD combined was 5.9. Patients with DLB were younger at onset of symptoms than patients with PDD and had more hallucinations and cognitive fluctuations. Men had a higher incidence of DLB than women across the age spectrum. The pathology was consistent with the clinical diagnosis in 24 of 31 patients who underwent autopsy (77.4%).
The overall incidence rate of DLB is lower than the rate for Parkinson’s disease. DLB risk increases steeply with age and is markedly higher in men. This men-to-women difference may suggest different etiologic mechanisms.
PMCID: PMC4181848  PMID: 24042491
13.  Chiari 1 Malformation Presenting as Central Sleep Apnea during Pregnancy: A Case Report, Treatment Considerations, and Review of the Literature 
Purpose: Chiari malformation (CM) type-1 frequently causes obstructive or central sleep-disordered breathing (SDB) in both adults and children, although SDB is relatively rare as a presenting manifestation in the absence of other neurological symptoms. The definitive treatment of symptomatic CM is surgical decompression. We report a case that is, to our knowledge, a novel manifestation of central sleep apnea (CSA) due to CM type-1 with severe exacerbation and initial clinical presentation during pregnancy.
Methods: Case report from tertiary care comprehensive sleep medicine center with literature review of SDB manifestations associated with CM type-1. PubMed search was conducted between January 1982 and October 2013.
Results: We report a 25-year-old woman with severe CSA initially presenting during her first pregnancy that eventually proved to be caused by CM type-1. The patient was successfully treated preoperatively by adaptive servoventilation (ASV), with effective resolution of SDB following surgical decompression, and without recurrence in a subsequent pregnancy. Our literature review found that 58% of CM patients with SDB had OSA alone, 28% had CSA alone, 8 (10%) had mixed OSA/CSA, and 6 (8%) had hypoventilation. Of CM patients presenting with SDB, 50% had OSA, 42% had CSA, 8% had mixed OSA/CSA, and 10.4% had hypoventilation. We speculate that CSA may develop in CM patients in whom brainstem compression results in excessive central chemoreflex sensitivity with consequent hypocapnic CSA.
Conclusion: Chiari malformation type-1 may present with a diversity of SDB manifestations, and timely recognition and surgical referral are necessary to prevent further neurological deficits. ASV therapy can effectively manage CSA caused by CM type-1, which may initially present during pregnancy.
PMCID: PMC4208407  PMID: 25386156
Chiari malformation; central sleep apnea; pregnancy; presentation; adaptive servoventilation
14.  Midbrain atrophy is not a biomarker of PSP pathology 
Midbrain atrophy is a characteristic feature of progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), although it is unclear whether it is associated with the PSP syndrome (PSPS) or PSP pathology. We aimed to determine whether midbrain atrophy is a useful biomarker of PSP pathology, or whether it is only associated with typical PSPS.
We identified all autopsy-confirmed subjects with the PSP clinical phenotype (i.e. PSPS) or PSP pathology and a volumetric MRI. Of 24 subjects with PSP pathology, 11 had a clinical diagnosis of PSPS (PSP-PSPS), and 13 had a non-PSPS clinical diagnosis (PSP-other). Three subjects had PSPS and corticobasal degeneration pathology (CBD-PSPS). Healthy control and disease control groups (i.e. a group without PSPS or PSP pathology) and a group with CBD pathology and corticobasal syndrome (CBD-CBS) were selected. Midbrain area was measured in all subjects.
Midbrain area was reduced in each group with clinical PSPS (with and without PSP pathology). The group with PSP pathology and non-PSPS clinical syndromes did not show reduced midbrain area. Midbrain area was smaller in the subjects with PSPS compared to those without PSPS (p<0.0001), with an area under the receiver-operator-curve of 0.99 (0.88,0.99). A midbrain area cut-point of 92 mm2 provided optimum sensitivity (93%) and specificity (89%) for differentiation.
Midbrain atrophy is associated with the clinical presentation of PSPS, but not with the pathological diagnosis of PSP in the absence of the PSPS clinical syndrome. This finding has important implications for the utility of midbrain measurements as diagnostic biomarkers for PSP pathology.
PMCID: PMC3773014  PMID: 23746093
Progressive supranuclear palsy; tau; neuropathology; MRI; midbrain
15.  Associations of repeat sizes with clinical and pathological characteristics in C9ORF72 expansion carriers (Xpansize-72): a cross-sectional cohort study 
Lancet neurology  2013;12(10):10.1016/S1474-4422(13)70210-2.
Hexanucleotide repeat expansions in chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9ORF72) are currently the major genetic cause of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and motor neuron disease (MND). Presently, it is unknown whether expansion size affects disease severity or phenotypes.
We performed a cross-sectional Southern blot characterization study (Xpansize-72) in a cohort of subjects obtained at the Mayo Clinic and Banner Sun Health Research Institute. All subjects carried GGGGCC repeat expansions in C9ORF72, and high quality DNA was available from the frontal cortex, cerebellum and/or blood. Southern blotting techniques and densitometry were employed to estimate the repeat size of the most abundant expansion species. Comparisons of repeat sizes between tissues were made using Wilcoxon rank sum and Wilcoxon signed rank tests, and between disease subgroups using Kruskal-Wallis rank sum tests. The association of repeat size with age at onset and age at collection was evaluated using a Spearman’s test of correlation; whereas the association between repeat size and survival after disease onset was examined using Cox proportional hazards regression models.
Our cohort consisted of 84 C9ORF72 expansion carriers, including FTD patients (n=35), FTD/MND patients (n=16), MND patients (n=30), and unaffected subjects (n=3). We focused our analysis on three major tissue subgroups: frontal cortex (41 subjects [21 FTD, 11 FTD/MND, 9 MND]), cerebellum (40 subjects [20 FTD, 12 FTD/MND, 8 MND]), and blood (50 subjects [15 FTD, 9 FTD/MND, 23 MND, 3 unaffected expansion carriers]). Repeat lengths in the cerebellum were significantly smaller (median 12·3 kb [~1667 repeat units], IQR 11·1–14·3) than in the frontal cortex (median 33·8 kb [~5250 repeat units], IQR 23·5–44·9, p<0·0001), or in blood (median 18·6 kb [~2717 repeat units], IQR 13·9–28·1, p=0·0002). Within these tissues, there was no significant difference in repeat length between disease subgroups (cerebellum p=0·96, frontal cortex p=0·27, blood p=0·10). In the frontal cortex of FTD patients, repeat length correlated with age at onset (r=0·63, p=0·003) and age at collection (r=0·58, p=0·006); this correlation was not detected in the cerebellum or blood. Finally, only in the cerebellum, survival after disease onset was poorer in patients from our overall cohort with repeat lengths greater than 1467 repeat units (25th percentile, HR 3·27, 95% CI 1·34–7·95, p=0·009): the median survival was 4·8 years (IQR 3·0–7·4) in the group with longer expansions versus 7·4 years (IQR 6·3–10·9) in the group with smaller expansions.
Substantial variation in repeat size is observed between cerebellum, frontal cortex, and blood; relatively long repeat sizes in the cerebellum confer an important survival disadvantage. Our findings indicate that expansion size does affect disease severity, which could be relevant for genetic counseling.
PMCID: PMC3879782  PMID: 24011653
16.  Genetic modifiers in carriers of repeat expansions in the C9ORF72 gene 
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.
PMCID: PMC4190282  PMID: 25239657
C9ORF72; Frontotemporal dementia; Motor neuron disease; Genetic modifier; Repeat expansion
17.  Greatest rapid eye movement sleep atonia loss in men and older age 
To determine quantitative REM sleep muscle tone in men and women without REM sleep behavior disorder, we quantitatively analyzed REM sleep phasic and tonic muscle activity, phasic muscle burst duration, and automated REM atonia index in submentalis and anterior tibialis muscles in 25 men and 25 women without REM sleep behavior disorder. Men showed significantly higher anterior tibialis phasic muscle activity. Higher phasic muscle activity was independently associated with male sex and older age in multivariate analysis. Men and the elderly may be biologically predisposed to altered REM sleep muscle atonia control, and/or some may have occult neurodegenerative disease, possibly underlying the predominance of older men with REM sleep behavior disorder.
PMCID: PMC4241799  PMID: 25493286
18.  Profilin-1 mutations are rare in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal dementia 
Mutations in profilin-1 (PFN1) have recently been identified in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Because of the considerable overlap between ALS and the common subtype of frontotemporal dementia, which is characterized by transactive response DNA-binding protein 43 pathology (FTLD-TDP), we tested cohorts of ALS and FTLD-TDP patients for PFN1 mutations.
DNA was obtained from 342 ALS patients and 141 FTLD-TDP patients at our outpatient clinic and brain bank for neurodegenerative diseases at the Mayo Clinic Florida, Jacksonville, USA. We screened these patients for mutations in coding regions of PFN1 by Sanger sequencing. Subsequently, we used TaqMan genotyping assays to investigate the identified variant in 1167 control subjects.
One variant, p.E117G, was detected in 1 ALS patient, 1 FTLD-TDP patient, and 2 control subjects. The mutation frequency of patients versus control subjects was not significantly different (p-value = 0.36). Moreover, PFN1 and TDP-43 staining of autopsy material did not differ between patients with or without this variant.
The p.E117G variant appears to represent a benign polymorphism. PFN1 mutations, in general, are rare in ALS and FTLD-TDP patients.
PMCID: PMC3923463  PMID: 23634771
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; frontotemporal dementia; profilin-1; TDP-43; genetics
19.  Mutations in protein N-arginine methyltransferases are not the cause of FTLD-FUS 
Neurobiology of aging  2013;34(9):2235.e11-2235.e13.
The nuclear protein fused in sarcoma (FUS) is found in cytoplasmic inclusions in a subset of patients with the neurodegenerative disorder frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD-FUS). FUS contains a methylated arginine-glycine-glycine domain which is required for transport into the nucleus. Recent findings have shown that this domain is hypomethylated in patients with FTLD-FUS. To determine if the cause of hypomethylation is the result of mutations in protein N-arginine methyltransferases (PRMTs), we selected 3 candidate genes (PRMT1, PRMT3 and PRMT8) and performed complete sequencing analysis and real-time PCR mRNA expression analysis in 20 FTLD-FUS cases. No mutations or statistically significant changes in expression were observed in our patient samples, suggesting that defects in PRMTs are not the cause of FTLD-FUS.
PMCID: PMC3683824  PMID: 23635657
20.  TMEM106B p.T185S regulates TMEM106B protein levels: implications for frontotemporal dementia 
Journal of neurochemistry  2013;126(6):781-791.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is the second leading cause of dementia in individuals under age 65. In many patients, the predominant pathology includes neuronal cytoplasmic or intranuclear inclusions of ubiquitinated TAR DNA binding protein 43 (FTLDTDP). Recently, a genome-wide association study identified the first FTLD-TDP genetic risk factor, in which variants in and around the TMEM106B gene (top SNP rs1990622) were significantly associated with FTLD-TDP risk. Intriguingly, the most significant association was in FTLD-TDP patients carrying progranulin (GRN) mutations. Here we investigated to what extent the coding variant, rs3173615 (p.T185S) in linkage disequilibrium with rs1990622, affects progranulin protein (PGRN) biology and TMEM106B protein regulation.
First, we confirmed the association of TMEM106B variants with FTLD-TDP in a new cohort of GRN mutation carriers. We next generated and characterized a TMEM106B-specific antibody for investigation of this protein. Enzyme-linked immunoassay analysis of PGRN levels showed similar effects upon T185 and S185 TMEM106B overexpression. However, overexpression of T185 consistently led to higher TMEM106B protein levels than S185. Cycloheximide treatment experiments revealed that S185 degrades faster than T185 TMEM106B, potentially due to differences in N-glycosylation at residue N183. Together, our results provide a potential mechanism by which TMEM106B variants lead to differences in FTLD-TDP risk.
PMCID: PMC3766501  PMID: 23742080
TMEM106B; frontotemporal dementia; progranulin; glycosylation
21.  Risk factors for dementia with Lewy bodies 
Neurology  2013;81(9):833-840.
To determine the risk factors associated with dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB).
We identified 147 subjects with DLB and sampled 2 sex- and age-matched cognitively normal control subjects for each case. We also identified an unmatched comparison group of 236 subjects with Alzheimer disease (AD). We evaluated 19 candidate risk factors in the study cohort.
Compared with controls, subjects with DLB were more likely to have a history of anxiety (odds ratio; 95% confidence interval) (7.4; 3.5–16; p < 0.0001), depression (6.0; 3.7–9.5; p < 0.0001), stroke (2.8; 1.3–6.3; p = 0.01), a family history of Parkinson disease (PD) (4.6; 2.5–8.6; p < 0.0001), and carry APOE ε4 alleles (2.2; 1.5–3.3; p < 0.0001), but less likely to have had cancer (0.44; 0.27–0.70; p = 0.0006) or use caffeine (0.29; 0.14–0.57; p < 0.0001) with a similar trend for alcohol (0.65; 0.42–1.0; p = 0.0501). Compared with subjects with AD, subjects with DLB were younger (72.5 vs 74.9 years, p = 0.021) and more likely to be male (odds ratio; 95% confidence interval) (5.3; 3.3–8.5; p < 0.0001), have a history of depression (4.3; 2.4–7.5; p < 0.0001), be more educated (2.5; 1.1–5.6; p = 0.031), have a positive family history of PD (5.0; 2.4–10; p < 0.0001), have no APOE ε4 alleles (0.61; 0.40–0.93; p = 0.02), and to have had an oophorectomy before age 45 years (7.6; 1.5–39; p = 0.015).
DLB risk factors are an amalgam of those for AD and PD. Smoking and education, which have opposing risk effects on AD and PD, are not risk factors for DLB; however, depression and low caffeine intake, both risk factors for AD and PD, increase risk of DLB more strongly than in either.
PMCID: PMC3908463  PMID: 23892702
22.  Assessing the Temporal Relationship Between Cognition and Gait: Slow Gait Predicts Cognitive Decline in the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging 
The association between gait speed and cognition has been reported; however, there is limited knowledge about the temporal associations between gait slowing and cognitive decline among cognitively normal individuals.
The Mayo Clinic Study of Aging is a population-based study of Olmsted County, Minnesota, United States, residents aged 70–89 years. This analysis included 1,478 cognitively normal participants who were evaluated every 15 months with a nurse visit, neurologic evaluation, and neuropsychological testing. The neuropsychological battery used nine tests to compute domain-specific (memory, language, executive function, and visuospatial skills) and global cognitive z-scores. Timed gait speed (m/s) was assessed over 25 feet (7.6 meters) at a usual pace. Using mixed models, we examined baseline gait speed (continuous and in quartiles) as a predictor of cognitive decline and baseline cognition as a predictor of gait speed changes controlling for demographics and medical conditions.
Cross-sectionally, faster gait speed was associated with better performance in memory, executive function, and global cognition. Both cognitive scores and gait speed declined over time. A faster gait speed at baseline was associated with less cognitive decline across all domain-specific and global scores. These results were slightly attenuated after excluding persons with incident mild cognitive impairment or dementia. By contrast, baseline cognition was not associated with changes in gait speed.
Our study suggests that slow gait precedes cognitive decline. Gait speed may be useful as a reliable, easily attainable, and noninvasive risk factor for cognitive decline.
PMCID: PMC3712358  PMID: 23250002
Gait speed; Cognition; Longitudinal; Cohort study.
23.  Criteria for Mild Cognitive Impairment Due to Alzheimer’s Disease in the Community 
Annals of neurology  2013;74(2):199-208.
The newly proposed National Institute on Aging-Alzheimer’s Association (NIA-AA) criteria for mild cognitive impairment (MCI) due to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) suggest a combination of clinical features and biomarker measures, but their performance in the community is not known.
The Mayo Clinic Study of Aging (MCSA) is a population-based longitudinal study of non-demented subjects in Olmsted County, Minnesota. A sample of 154 MCI subjects from the MCSA was compared to a sample of 58 amnestic MCI subjects from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative 1 (ADNI 1) to assess the applicability of the criteria in both settings and to assess their outcomes.
In the MCSA, 14% and in ADNI 1 16% of subjects were biomarker negative. In addition, 14% of the MCSA and 12% of ADNI 1 subjects had evidence for amyloid deposition only, while 43% of MCSA and 55% of ADNI 1 subjects had evidence for amyloid deposition plus neurodegeneration (MRI atrophy, FDG PET hypometabolism or both). However, a considerable number of subjects had biomarkers inconsistent with the proposed AD model, e.g., 29% of MCSA subjects and 17% of the ADNI 1 subjects had evidence for neurodegeneration without amyloid deposition. These subjects may not be on an AD pathway. Neurodegeneration appears to be a key factor in predicting progression relative to amyloid deposition alone.
The NIA-AA criteria apply to most MCI subjects in both the community and clinical trials settings however, a sizeable proportion of subjects had conflicting biomarkers which may be very important and need to be explored.
PMCID: PMC3804562  PMID: 23686697
24.  Restless legs syndrome and daytime sleepiness are prominent in myotonic dystrophy type 2 
Neurology  2013;81(2):157-164.
Although sleep disturbances are common in myotonic dystrophy type 1 (DM1), sleep disturbances in myotonic dystrophy type 2 (DM2) have not been well-characterized. We aimed to determine the frequency of sleep disturbances in DM2.
We conducted a case-control study of 54 genetically confirmed DM2 subjects and 104 medical controls without DM1 or DM2, and surveyed common sleep disturbances, including symptoms of probable restless legs syndrome (RLS), excessive daytime sleepiness (EDS), sleep quality, fatigue, obstructive sleep apnea (OSA), probable REM sleep behavior disorder (pRBD), and pain. Thirty patients with DM2 and 43 controls responded to the survey. Group comparisons with parametric statistical tests and multiple linear and logistic regression analyses were conducted for the dependent variables of EDS and poor sleep quality.
The mean ages of patients with DM2 and controls were 63.8 and 64.5 years, respectively. Significant sleep disturbances in patients with DM2 compared to controls included probable RLS (60.0% vs 14.0%, p < 0.0001), EDS (p < 0.001), sleep quality (p = 0.02), and fatigue (p < 0.0001). EDS and fatigue symptoms were independently associated with DM2 diagnosis (p < 0.01) after controlling for age, sex, RLS, and pain scores. There were no group differences in OSA (p = 0.87) or pRBD (p = 0.12) scores.
RLS, EDS, and fatigue are frequent sleep disturbances in patients with DM2, while OSA and pRBD symptoms are not. EDS was independently associated with DM2 diagnosis, suggesting possible primary CNS hypersomnia mechanisms. Further studies utilizing objective sleep measures are needed to better characterize sleep comorbidities in DM2.
PMCID: PMC3770170  PMID: 23749798
25.  MRI and MRS predictors of mild cognitive impairment in a population-based sample 
Neurology  2013;81(2):126-133.
To investigate MRI and proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) predictors of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) in cognitively normal older adults.
Subjects were cognitively normal older adults (n = 1,156) who participated in the population-based Mayo Clinic Study of Aging MRI/MRS study from August 2005 to December 2010 and had at least one annual clinical follow-up. Single-voxel MRS was performed from the posterior cingulate gyri, and hippocampal volumes and white matter hyperintensity volumes were quantified using automated methods. Brain infarcts were assessed on MRI. Cox proportional hazards regression, with age as the time scale, was used to assess the effect of MRI and MRS markers on the risk of progression from cognitively normal to MCI. Linear mixed-effects models were used to assess the effect of MRI and MRS markers on cognitive decline.
After a median follow-up of 2.8 years, 214 participants had progressed to MCI or dementia (estimated incidence rate = 6.1% per year; 95% confidence interval = 5.3%–7.0%). In univariable modeling, hippocampal volume, white matter hyperintensity volume, and N-acetylaspartate/myo-inositol were significant predictors of MCI in cognitively normal older adults. In multivariable modeling, only decreased hippocampal volume and N-acetylaspartate/myo-inositol were independent predictors of MCI. These MRI/MRS predictors of MCI as well as infarcts were associated with cognitive decline (p < 0.05).
Quantitative MRI and MRS markers predict progression to MCI and cognitive decline in cognitively normal older adults. MRS may contribute to the assessment of preclinical dementia pathologies by capturing neurodegenerative changes that are not detected by hippocampal volumetry.
PMCID: PMC3770173  PMID: 23761624

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