Expanded hexanucleotide repeats in C9ORF72 are a common genetic cause of frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Repeat expansions have also been detected infrequently in other disorders, including Alzheimer’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies and Parkinsonian disorders.
To assess the incidence of the expanded C9ORF72 repeat in cases of depressive pseudodementia.
An immunohistochemical screen of autopsied brains collected between 1998 and 2013.
Brain bank at Mayo Clinic Florida, a large tertiary care research institution.
Thirty one neuropathologically normal individuals (no atrophy, neuronal loss, or gliosis beyond what would be expected for age) with an antemortem clinical history or diagnosis of depression and/or dementia.
Main Outcome Measures
Presence of the hexanucleotide repeat was established using immunohistochemistry with a highly disease-specific antibody (C9RANT), and was further validated in carriers using repeat-primed polymerase chain reaction and Southern blotting.
Of the 31 cases studied, 2 (6.45%) individuals harbored the C9ORF72 repeat expansion. Both patients were men with refractory depression. One patient experienced drug-induced Parkinsonism and sudden-onset dementia, while the other patient had a more insidious disease course suspected to be Alzheimer’s disease. Clinical and neuropathologic features are described.
Conclusions and Relevance
This report expands the range of clinicopathologic presentations of C9ORF72 expanded hexanucleotide repeat to include psychiatric disorders such as depressive pseudodementia.
The most common cause of familial frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TAR DNA-binding protein-43 pathology (FTLD-TDP) has been found to be an expansion of a hexanucleotide repeat (GGGGCC) in a noncoding region of the gene C9ORF72. Hippocampal sclerosis (HpScl) is a common finding in FTLD-TDP. Our objective was to screen for the presence of C9ORF72 hexanucleotide repeat expansions in a pathologically-confirmed cohort of “pure” hippocampal sclerosis cases (n=33), outside the setting of FTLD-TDP and Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Using a recently described repeat-associated non-ATG (RAN) translation (C9RANT) antibody that was found to be highly specific for c9FTD/ALS, we identified a single “pure” HpScl autopsy case with a repeat expansion in C9ORF72 (c9HpScl). Mutation screening was also performed with repeat-primed polymerase chain reaction and further confirmed with southern blotting. The c9HpScl patient had a 14-year history of a slowly progressive amnestic syndrome and a clinical diagnosis of probable AD. Neuropsychological testing revealed memory impairment, but no deficits in other cognitive domains. Autopsy showed hippocampal sclerosis with TDP-43 immunoreactive neuronal inclusions relatively limited to limbic lobe structures. Neuritic pathology immunoreactive for p62 was more frequent than TDP-43 in amygdala and hippocampus. Frequent p62 positive neuronal inclusions were present in cerebellar granule neurons as is typical of C9ORF72 mutation carriers. There was no significant FTLD or motor neuron disease. C9RANT was found to be sensitive and specific in this autopsy-confirmed series of HpScl cases. The findings in this patient suggest that the clinical and pathologic spectrum of C9ORF72 repeat expansion is wider than frontotemporal dementia and motor neuron disease, including cases of progressive amnestic dementia with restricted TDP-43 pathology associated with HpScl.
Hippocampus; C9ORF72; memory; neuropathology; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; C9RANT
Optineurin (OPTN) is a multifunctional protein involved in cellular morphogenesis, vesicle trafficking, maintenance of the Golgi complex, and transcription activation through its interactions with the Rab8, myosin 6 (MYO6), huntingtin. Recently, OPTN immunoreactivity has been reported in intranuclear inclusions in patients with neuronal intranuclear inclusions disease (NIID). Other studies have shown that the RNA-binding protein, fused in sarcoma (FUS), is a component of intranuclear inclusions in NIID. We aimed to investigate the relationship between OPTN, its binding protein MYO6 and FUS in this study. In control subjects, OPTN (C-terminal) (OPTN-C) and MYO6 immunoreactivity was mainly demonstrated in the cytoplasm of neurons. In NIID patients, both neuronal intranuclear inclusions (NII) and glial intranuclear inclusions (GII) were immunopositive for MYO6 as well as OPTN-C. However, the intensity of OPTN-C immunostaining of the neuronal cytoplasm with and without NII was less than that of the control subjects. Double immunofluorescence staining for OPTN-C, ubiquitin (Ub), p62 and FUS revealed co-localization of these proteins within NII. Moreover, Ub positive inclusions were co-localized with MYO6. The percentage of co-localization of Ub with OPTN-C, FUS or MYO6 in NII was 100%, 52% and 92%, respectively. Ultrastructurally, the inclusions consisted of thin and thick filaments. Both filaments were immunopositive for Ub and OPTN-C. These findings suggest that OPTN plays a central role in the disease pathogenesis, and that OPTN may be a major component of NII.
Optineurin; Myosin-6; neuronal intranuclear inclusion disease; FUS; intranuclear inclusion
CBD is a disorder affecting cognition and movement due to a progressive neurodegeneration associated with distinctive neuropathologic features, including abnormal phosphorylated tau protein in neurons and glia in cortex, basal ganglia, diencephalon and brainstem, as well as ballooned neurons and astrocytic plaques. We identified three cases of CBD with olivopontocerebellar atrophy (CBD-OPCA) that did not have α-synuclein-positive glial cytoplasmic inclusions of multiple system atrophy (MSA). Two patients had clinical features suggestive of progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), and the third case had cerebellar ataxia thought to be due to idiopathic OPCA. Neuropathologic features of CBD-OPCA are compared to typical CBD, as well as MSA and PSP. CBD-OPCA and MSA had marked neuronal loss in pontine nuclei, inferior olivary nucleus, and Purkinje cell layer. Neuronal loss and grumose degeneration in the cerebellar dentate nucleus was comparable in CBD-OPCA and PSP. Image analysis of tau pathology showed greater infratentorial tau burden, especially in pontine base, in CBD-OPCA compared with typical CBD. Additionally, CBD-OPCA had TDP-43 immunoreactive neuronal and glial cytoplasmic inclusions and threads throughout the basal ganglia and in olivopontocerebellar system. CBD-OPCA met neuropathologic research diagnostic criteria for CBD and shared tau biochemical characteristics with typical CBD. These results suggest that CBD-OPCA is a distinct clinicopathologic variant of CBD with olivopontocerebellar TDP-43 pathology.
Corticobasal degeneration; olivopontocerebellar atrophy; tauopathy; multiple system atrophy; progressive supranuclear palsy; TDP-43
Genetic studies are transforming the way we diagnose, evaluate and treat patients. The era of genome-wide association studies promised to discover common risk variants in heterogeneous disorders where previous small-scale association studies had on the whole failed. However, as we enter the post-association era a degree of disappoint is felt regarding the lack of risk factors with large effect for a number of disorders including vascular disease. Vascular disorders are sporadic by nature, though a familial component has been observed. This review will focus on vascular dementia, the genetic risk factors for vascular disorders and highlight how new technologies may overcome the limitations of genome-wide association and nominate those genes that influence disease risk.
We recently reported a missense mutation and four variants in eukaryotic translation initiation factor 4-gamma (EIF4G1) associated with parkinsonism, dementia or both. In those with a positive family history, the mode of inheritance was autosomal dominant. Detailed neuropathologic descriptions of individuals with EIF4G1 genetic variants have not been reported. Herein, we report neuropathologic findings of three individuals from two American families with EIF4G1 variants. The patients had initial clinical presentations of dementia or parkinsonism and all had dementia at the time of autopsy. One family carried an EIF4G1 double variant, c.2056G>T (p.G686C) and c.3589C>T (p.R1197W), and one family carried variant c.1505C>T (p.A502V). All three patients also carried at least one ε4 allele of apolipoprotein E. One individual presented with cognitive impairment without significant parkinsonism; one presented with memory problems followed by bradykinesia; and the third presented with cardinal signs of Parkinson’s disease, followed more than a year later by cognitive dysfunction. Pathological examination showed diffuse cortical Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites in all patients. A small subset of Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites were immunopositive for eIF4G1. All patients had moderate to frequent non-neuritic, cortical amyloid plaques, mostly medial temporal neurofibrillary pathology (Braak neurofibrillary tangle stages of II to IV), and minimal or no TDP-43 pathology. The results suggest that in some patients variants in EIF4G1 can be associated with pathology that has a high likelihood of association with clinical features of dementia with Lewy bodies.
APOE; dementia with Lewy bodies; diffuse Lewy body disease; EIF4G1; parkinsonism; α-synuclein; tau
An expanded GGGGCC hexanucleotide repeat in C9ORF72 is the most common genetic cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration associated with TDP-43 pathology (FTLD-TDP). In addition to TDP-43-positive neuronal and glial inclusions, C9ORF72-linked FTLD-TDP has characteristic TDP-43-negative neuronal cytoplasmic and intranuclear inclusions as well as dystrophic neurites in the hippocampus and cerebellum. These lesions are immunopositive for ubiquitin and ubiquitin-binding proteins, such as sequestosome-1/p62 and ubiquilin-2. Studies examining the frequency of the C9ORF72 mutation in clinically probable Alzheimer’s disease (AD) have found a small proportion of AD cases with the mutation. This prompted us to systematically explore the frequency of Alzheimer type pathology in a series of 17 FTLD-TDP cases with mutations in C9ORF72 (FTLD-C9ORF72). We identified 4 cases with sufficient Alzheimer type pathology to meet criteria for intermediate-to-high likelihood AD. We compared AD pathology in the 17 FTLD-C9ORF72 to 13 cases of FTLD-TDP linked to mutations in the gene for progranulin (FTLD-GRN) and 36 cases of sporadic FTLD (sFTLD). FTLD-C9ORF72 cases had higher Braak neurofibrillary tangle stage than FTLD-GRN. Increased tau pathology in FTLD-C9ORF72 was assessed with thioflavin-S fluorescent microscopy-based neurofibrillary tangle counts and with image analysis of tau burden in temporal cortex and hippocampus. FTLD-C9ORF72 had significantly more neurofibrillary tangles and higher tau burden compared with FTLD-GRN. The differences were most marked in limbic regions. On the other hand, sFTLD and FTLD-C9ORF72 had a similar burden of tau pathology. These results suggest FTLD-C9ORF72 has increased propensity for tau pathology compared to FTLD-GRN, but not sFTLD. The accumulation of tau as well as lesions immunoreactive for ubiquitin and ubiquitin binding proteins (p62 and ubiquilin-2) suggests that mutations in C9ORF72 may involve disrupted protein degradation that favors accumulation of multiple different proteins.
frontotemporal lobar degeneration; C9ORF72; ubiquitin; p62; ubiquilin-2; tau
The clinical features of the genetically determined forms of familial Parkinson’s disease (PD) have been described in multiple reports, but there have been few comparative neuropathologic studies. Five familial PD cases, with mutations in SNCA, were matched for age, sex, and Alzheimer type pathology with sporadic PD cases. Immunohistochemistry for phospho-tau and α-synuclein was performed in 8 brain regions. The frequency of tau pathology and the morphologic features of α-synuclein pathology in familial PD were compared with sporadic PD using semi-quantitative methods. In familial PD, there were significantly more tau positive extra-perikaryal spheroid-like and thread-like lesions than in the sporadic PD. There was no significant difference in the amount of α-synuclein positive neuronal perikaryal pathology between familial PD and sporadic PD, but α-synuclein positive oligodendroglial and neuritic lesions were significantly greater in familial PD compared to sporadic PD. In the substantia nigra, familial PD had more marked neuronal loss and fewer residential neurons with Lewy bodies than the sporadic PD, suggesting a close relationship between the severity of neuronal loss and Lewy body formation. The results show a diversity of pathological features of genetically determined familial PD, and they draw attention to the possible role of tau protein in neurodegeneration. Moreover, the presence of oligodendroglial inclusions at the light and electron microscopic levels in familial PD suggests that PD and multiple system atrophy form a continuum of α-synuclein pathology.
Pathological features; Lewy bodies; familial Parkinson’s disease; SNCA mutations
Microtubule-associated protein tau encoded by the MAPT gene binds to microtubules and is important for maintaining neuronal morphology and function. Alternative splicing of MAPT pre-mRNA generates six major tau isoforms in the adult central nervous system resulting in tau proteins with three or four microtubule-binding repeat domains. In a group of neurodegenerative disorders called tauopathies, tau becomes aberrantly hyperphosphorylated and dissociates from microtubules, resulting in a progressive accumulation of intracellular tau aggregates. The spectrum of sporadic frontotemporal lobar degeneration associated with tau pathology includes progressive supranuclear palsy, corticobasal degeneration, and Pick’s disease. Alzheimer’s disease is considered the most prevalent tauopathy. This review is divided into two broad sections. In the first section we discuss the molecular classification of sporadic tauopathies, with a focus on describing clinicopathologic relationships. In the second section we discuss the neuroimaging methodologies that are available for measuring tau pathology (directly using tau positron emission tomography ligands) and tau-mediated neuronal injury (magnetic resonance imaging and fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography). Both sections have detailed descriptions of the following neurodegenerative dementias – Alzheimer’s disease, progressive supranuclear palsy, corticobasal degeneration and Pick’s disease.
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.
Abnormal cytoplasmic accumulation of Fused in Sarcoma (FUS) in neurons defines subtypes of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). FUS is a member of the FET protein family that includes Ewing's sarcoma (EWS) and TATA-binding protein-associated factor 2N (TAF15). FET proteins are predominantly localized to the nucleus, where they bind RNA and DNA to modulate transcription, mRNA splicing, and DNA repair. In ALS cases with FUS inclusions (ALS-FUS), mutations in the FUS gene cause disease, whereas FTLD cases with FUS inclusions (FTLD-FUS) do not harbor FUS mutations. Notably, in FTLD-FUS, all FET proteins accumulate with their nuclear import receptor Transportin 1 (TRN1), in contrast ALS-FUS inclusions are exclusively positive for FUS. In the present study, we show that induction of DNA damage replicates several pathologic hallmarks of FTLD-FUS in immortalized human cells and primary human neurons and astrocytes. Treatment with the antibiotic calicheamicin γ1, which causes DNA double-strand breaks, leads to the cytoplasmic accumulation of FUS, TAF15, EWS, and TRN1. Moreover, cytoplasmic translocation of FUS is mediated by phosphorylation of its N terminus by the DNA-dependent protein kinase. Finally, we observed elevated levels of phospho-H2AX in FTLD-FUS brains, indicating that DNA damage occurs in patients. Together, our data reveal a novel regulatory mechanism for FUS localization in cells and suggest that DNA damage may contribute to the accumulation of FET proteins observed in human FTLD-FUS cases, but not in ALS-FUS.
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); cytoplasmic translocation; DNA damage; frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD); Fused in Sarcoma (FUS); phosphorylation
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.
Mitochondria and the ER form tight structural associations and these facilitate a number of cellular functions. However, the mechanisms by which regions of the ER become tethered to mitochondria are not properly known. Understanding these mechanisms is not just important for comprehending fundamental physiological processes but also for understanding pathogenic processes in some disease states. In particular, disruption to ER-mitochondria associations is linked to some neurodegenerative diseases. Here we show that the ER-resident protein VAPB interacts with the mitochondrial protein PTPIP51 to regulate ER-mitochondria associations. Moreover, we demonstrate that TDP-43, a protein pathologically linked to ALS and FTD perturbs ER-mitochondria interactions and that this is associated with disruption to the VAPB-PTPIP51 interaction and cellular Ca2+ homeostasis. Finally, we show that overexpression of TDP-43 leads to activation of glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β) and that GSK-3β regulates the VAPB-PTPIP51 interaction. Our results describe a new pathogenic mechanism for TDP-43.
Mutations in TDP-43 lead to familial ALS. Expanding evidence suggests that impaired mitochondrial dynamics likely contribute to the selective degeneration of motor neurons in SOD1-associated ALS. In this study, we investigated whether and how TDP-43 mutations might impact mitochondrial dynamics and function. We demonstrated that overexpression of wild-type TDP-43 resulted in reduced mitochondrial length and density in neurites of primary motor neurons, features further exacerbated by ALS-associated TDP-43 mutants Q331K and M337V. In contrast, suppression of TDP-43 resulted in significantly increased mitochondrial length and density in neurites, suggesting a specific role of TDP-43 in regulating mitochondrial dynamics. Surprisingly, both TDP-43 overexpression and suppression impaired mitochondrial movement. We further showed that abnormal localization of TDP-43 in cytoplasm induced substantial and widespread abnormal mitochondrial dynamics. TDP-43 co-localized with mitochondria in motor neurons and their colocalization was enhanced by ALS associated mutant. Importantly, co-expression of mitochondrial fusion protein mitofusin 2 (Mfn2) could abolish TDP-43 induced mitochondrial dynamics abnormalities and mitochondrial dysfunction. Taken together, these data suggest that mutant TDP-43 impairs mitochondrial dynamics through enhanced localization on mitochondria, which causes mitochondrial dysfunction. Therefore, abnormal mitochondrial dynamics is likely a common feature of ALS which could be potential new therapeutic targets to treat ALS.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is pathologically heterogeneous with TAR DNA binding protein 43 kDa (TDP-43) proteinopathy the most common substrate. Previous work has identified atrophy patterns across TDP-43 subtypes with Type A showing greater frontotemporal and parietal atrophy, Type C predominantly anterior temporal, and Type B predominantly posterior frontal. Despite neuroanatomical correlates of involvement, neuropsychological findings have been inconsistent. The current study utilized broader neurocognitive domains based on aggregated neuropsychological measures to distinguish between subtypes. We hypothesized that patterns of neurocognitive domain impairments would predict FTLD–TDP-43 subtype. Fifty-one patients, aged 38–87, were identified post mortem with pathologically confirmed FTLD with TDP-43. Participants were classified into subtypes A, B, or C. Patients had completed neuropsychological assessments as part of their clinical evaluation. Six cognitive domains were created: Language; Cognitive Speed; Memory; Learning; Visuoperception; and Fluency. Binary logistic regression was conducted. All but three patients could be classified as FTLD–TDP Types A, B, or C: 26 as Type A; nine as Type B; and 13 as Type C. Cognitive Speed scores were associated with Types A and C (p < 0.001 and p = 0.003, respectively). Impaired performances on the Trail Making Test differentiated Types A and C. Worse Boston Naming Test and Logical Memory (Immediate) (p < 0.05) scores also increased the likelihood of Type C phenotype. Findings suggest Cognitive Speed associates with TDP-43 subtypes. Type C also demonstrated language-specific involvement. Differences between TDP-43 subtypes further supports the notion of differences in pathophysiology or topography across these types.
Cognitive speed; Dementia; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Neuropathology; Neuropsychology; TDP-43
Clinical and neuropathological similarities between dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s diseases (PD and AD, respectively) suggest that these disorders may share etiology. To test this hypothesis, we have performed an association study of 54 genomic regions, previously implicated in PD or AD, in a large cohort of DLB cases and controls. The cohort comprised 788 DLB cases and 2624 controls. To minimize the issue of potential misdiagnosis, we have also performed the analysis including only neuropathologically proven DLB cases (667 cases). The results show that the APOE is a strong genetic risk factor for DLB, confirming previous findings, and that the SNCA and SCARB2 loci are also associated after a study-wise Bonferroni correction, although these have a different association profile than the associations reported for the same loci in PD. We have previously shown that the p.N370S variant in GBA is associated with DLB, which, together with the findings at the SCARB2 locus, suggests a role for lysosomal dysfunction in this disease. These results indicate that DLB has a unique genetic risk profile when compared with the two most common neurodegenerative diseases and that the lysosome may play an important role in the etiology of this disorder. We make all these data available.
Loss of function COQ2 mutations results in primary CoQ10 deficiency. Recently, recessive mutations of the COQ2 gene have been identified in two unrelated Japanese families with multiple system atrophy (MSA). It has also been proposed that specific heterozygous variants in the COQ2 gene may confer susceptibility to sporadic MSA. To assess the frequency of COQ2 variants in patients with MSA, we sequenced the entire coding region and investigated all exonic copy number variants of the COQ2 gene in 97 pathologically-confirmed and 58 clinically-diagnosed MSA patients from the United States.
We did not find any homozygous or compound heterozygous pathogenic COQ2 mutations including deletion or multiplication within our series of MSA patients. In two patients, we identified two heterozygous COQ2 variants (p.S54W and c.403 + 10G > T) of unknown significance, which were not observed in 360 control subjects. We also identified one heterozygous carrier of a known loss of function p.S146N substitution in a severe MSA-C pathologically-confirmed patient.
The COQ2 p.S146N substitution has been previously reported as a pathogenic mutation in primary CoQ10 deficiency (including infantile multisystem disorder) in a recessive manner. This variant is the third primary CoQ10 deficiency mutation observed in an MSA case (p.R387X and p.R197H). Therefore it is possible that in the heterozygous state it may increase susceptibility to MSA. Further studies, including reassessing family history in patients of primary CoQ10 deficiency for the possible occurrence of MSA, are now warranted to resolve the role of COQ2 variation in MSA.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/1750-1326-9-44) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
COQ2; Multiple system atrophy; Genetics; CoQ10 deficiency
The study investigates the effects of genetic factors on the pathology of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and Lewy body (LB) diseases, including Parkinson’s disease and dementia with Lewy bodies. A multicenter autopsy series (762 brain samples) with AD, LB or vascular pathology was examined. We assessed the effects of the tau gene (MAPT) H1 haplotype, the H1-specific SNP rs242557, APOE and the α-synuclein gene (SNCA) 3′UTR SNP rs356165 on the burden of AD and LB pathology. We counted neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) in four brain regions, senile plaques (SPs) in five and LBs in four. We also documented Braak NFT stage, brain weight and presence of vascular pathology. MAPT H1 associated with lower counts of NFTs in the middle frontal (P<0.001) and inferior parietal (P=0.005) cortices, and also with lower counts of SPs in the motor cortex (P=0.001). Associations of MAPT H1 with increased LB counts in the middle frontal cortex (P=0.011) and inferior parietal cortex (P=0.033) were observed but were not significant after multiple testing adjustment. The APOE ε4 allele was strongly associated with overall Alzheimer type pathology (all P≤0.001). SNCA rs356165 and the MAPT H1-specific SNP rs242557 did not associate with AD or LB pathology. This study shows for the first time that MAPT H1 is associated with reduced Alzheimer type pathology, which could have important implications for the understanding of disease mechanisms and their genetic determinants.
MAPT; SNCA; APOE; Alzheimer pathology; Lewy body
Neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) are one of the key histological lesions of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and are associated with brain atrophy. We assessed regional NFT density in 30 patients with AD, 10 of which presented as the logopenic variant of primary progressive aphasia (lvPPA) and 20 that presented as dementia of the Alzheimer’s type (DAT). Regional grey matter volumes were measured using antemortem MRI. NFT density was significantly higher in left temporoparietal cortices in lvPPA compared to DAT, with no differences observed in hippocampus. There was a trend for the ratio of temporoparietal-to-hippocampal NFT density to be higher in lvPPA. The imaging findings mirrored the pathological findings, with smaller left temporoparietal volumes observed in lvPPA compared to DAT, and no differences observed in hippocampal volume. This study demonstrates that lvPPA is associated with a phenomenon of enhanced temporoparietal neurodegeneration, a finding that improves our understanding of the biological basis of lvPPA.
Primary progressive aphasia; Logopenic variant of primary progressive aphasia; Alzheimer’s disease; Neurofibrillary tangles; Hippocampus; MRI; Apolipoprotein E; TDP-43; Voxel-based morphometry; Alzheimer’s dementia
Mutations in the α-synuclein-encoding gene SNCA are considered as a rare cause of Parkinson's disease (PD). Our objective was to examine the frequency of the SNCA point mutations among PD patients of Polish origin.
Detection of the known SNCA point mutations A30P (c.88G>C), E46K (c.136G>A) and A53T (c.157A>T) was performed either using the Sequenom MassArray iPLEX platform or by direct sequencing of the SNCA exons 2 and 3. As the two novel substitutions A18T (c.52G>A) and A29S (c.85G>T) were identified, their frequency in a control population of Polish origin was assessed and in silico analysis performed to investigate the potential impact on protein structure and function.
We did not observe the previously reported point mutations in the SNCA gene in our 629 PD patients; however, two novel potentially pathogenic substitutions A18T and A29S were identified. Each variant was observed in a single patient presenting with a typical late-onset sporadic PD phenotype. Although neither variant was observed in control subjects and in silico protein analysis predicts a damaging effect for A18T and pA29S substitutions, the lack of family history brings into question the true pathogenicity of these rare variants.
Larger population based studies are needed to determine the pathogenicity of the A18T and A29S substitutions. Our findings highlight the possible role of rare variants contributing to disease risk and may support further screening of the SNCA gene in sporadic PD patients from different populations.
α-synuclein; SNCA gene; Parkinson's disease; Genetic etiology; Missense mutations
Rapid eye movement (REM) sleep behaviour disorder (RBD) is characterized by loss of muscle atonia during REM sleep and is associated with dream enactment behaviour. RBD is often associated with α-synuclein pathology, and we examined if there is a relationship of RBD with cholinergic neuronal loss in the pedunculopontine/laterodorsal tegmental nucleus (PPN/LDT), compared to catecholaminergic neurons in a neighbouring nucleus, the locus coeruleus (LC).
This retrospective study, utilized human brain banked tissues of 11 Lewy body disease (LBD) cases with RBD, 10 LBD without RBD, 19 AD and 10 neurologically normal controls. Tissues were stained with choline acetyl transferase immunohistochemistry to label neurons of PPN/LDT and tyrosine hydroxylase for the LC. The burden of tau and α-synuclein pathology was measured in the same regions with immunohistochemistry.
Both the LC and PPN/LDT were vulnerable to α-synuclein pathology in LBD and tau pathology in AD, but significant neuronal loss was only detected in these nuclei in LBD. Greater cholinergic depletion was found in both LBD groups, regardless of RBD status, when compared with normals and AD. There were no differences in either degree of neuronal loss or burden of α-synuclein pathology in LBD with and without RBD.
Whether decreases in brainstem cholinergic neurons in LBD contribute to RBD is uncertain, but our findings indicate these neurons are highly vulnerable to α-synuclein pathology in LBD and tau pathology in AD. The mechanism of selective α-synuclein-mediated neuronal loss in these nuclei remains to be determined.
α-synuclein; cholinergic; Lewy body; laterodorsal tegmentum; locus coeruleus; pedunculopontine nucleus; REM behaviour disorder; tau
Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are part of a disease spectrum associated with TDP-43 pathology. Strong evidence supporting this is the existence of kindreds with family members affected by FTD, ALS or mixed features of FTD and ALS, referred to as FTD-MND. Some of these families have linkage to chromosome 9, with hexanucleotide expansion mutation in a noncoding region of C9ORF72. Discovery of the mutation defines c9FTD/ALS. Prior to discovery of mutations in C9ORF72, it was assumed that TDP-43 pathology in c9FTD/ALS was uniform. In this study, we examined the neuropathology and clinical features of 20 cases of c9FTD/ALS from a brain bank for neurodegenerative disorders. Included are six patients clinically diagnosed with ALS, eight FTD, one FTD-MND and four Alzheimer type dementia. Clinical information was unavailable for one patient. Pathologically, the cases all had TDP-43 pathology, but there were three major pathologic groups: ALS, FTLD-MND and FTLD-TDP. The ALS cases were morphologically similar to typical sporadic ALS with almost no extramotor TDP-43 pathology; all had oligodendroglial cytoplasmic inclusions. The FTLD-MND showed predominantly Mackenzie Type 3 TDP-43 pathology, and all had ALS-like pathology in motor neurons, but more extensive extramotor pathology, with oligodendroglial cytoplasmic inclusions and infrequent hippocampal sclerosis. The FTLD-TDP cases had several features similar to FTLD-TDP due to mutations in the gene for progranulin, including Mackenzie Type 1 TDP-43 pathology with neuronal intranuclear inclusions and hippocampal sclerosis. FTLD-TDP patients were older and some were thought to have Alzheimer type dementia. In addition to the FTD and ALS clinical presentations, the present study shows that c9FTD/ALS can have other presentations, possibly related to age of onset and presence of hippocampal sclerosis. Moreover, there is pathologic heterogeneity not only between ALS and FTLD, but within the FTLD group. Further studies are needed to address the molecular mechanism of clinical and pathological heterogeneity of c9FTD/ALS due to mutations in C9ORF72.
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.
Progressive supranuclear palsy; tau; neuropathology; MRI; midbrain
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.
Atypical Parkinsonism associated with white matter pathology has been described in cerebrovascular diseases, mitochondrial cytopathies, osmotic demyelinating disorders, leukoencephalopathies including leukodystrophies, and others. Hereditary diffuse leukoencephalopathy with spheroids (HDLS) is an autosomal dominant disorder with symptomatic onset in midlife and death within a few years after symptom onset. Neuroimaging reveals cerebral white matter lesions that are pathologically characterized by non-inflammatory myelin loss, reactive astrocytosis, and axonal spheroids. Most cases are caused by mutations in the colony-stimulating factor 1 receptor (CSF1R) gene.
We studied neuropathologically verified HDLS patients with CSF1R mutations to assess Parkinsonian features. Ten families were evaluated with 16 affected individuals. During the course of the illness, all patients had at least some degree of bradykinesia. Fifteen patients had postural instability, and seven had rigidity. Two patients initially presented with Parkinsonian gait and asymmetrical bradykinesia. These two patients and two others exhibited bradykinesia, rigidity, postural instability, and tremor (two with resting) early in the course of the illness. Levodopa/carbidopa therapy in these four patients provided no benefit, and the remaining 12 patients were not treated. The mean age of onset for all patients was about 45 years (range, 18-71) and the mean disease duration was approximately six years (range, 3-11).
We also reviewed HDLS patients published prior to the CSF1R discovery for the presence of Parkinsonian features. Out of 50 patients, 37 had gait impairments, 8 rigidity, 7 bradykinesia, and 5 resting tremor. Our report emphasizes the presence of atypical Parkinsonism in HDLS due to CSF1R mutations.
HDLS; CSF1R mutation; Parkinsonism; Autosomal dominant; White matter disorders