Objective and methods
Dysferlin encoded by DYSF deficiency leads to two main phenotypes, limb girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD) 2B and Miyoshi myopathy. To reveal in detail the mutational and clinical features of LGMD2B in Japan, we observed 40 Japanese patients in 36 families with LGMD2B in whom dysferlin mutations were confirmed.
Results and conclusions
Three mutations (c.1566C>G, c.2997G>T and c.4497delT) were relatively more prevalent. The c.2997G>T mutation was associated with late onset, proximal dominant forms of dysferlinopathy, a high probability that muscle weakness started in an upper limb and lower serum creatine kinase (CK) levels. The clinical features of LGMD2B are as follows: (1) onset in the late teens or early adulthood, except patients homozygous for the c.2997G>T mutation; (2) lower limb weakness at onset; (3) distal change of lower limbs on muscle CT at an early stage; (4) impairment of lumbar erector spinal muscles on muscle CT at an early stage; (5) predominant involvement of proximal upper limbs; (6) preservation of function of the hands at late stage; (7) preservation of strength in neck muscles at late stage; (8) lack of facial weakness or dysphagia; (9) avoidance of scoliosis; (10) hyper-Ckaemia; (11) preservation of cardiac function; and (12) a tendency for respiratory function to decline with disease duration. It is important that the late onset phenotype is found with prevalent mutations.
Muscular Dystrophy; Neurogenetics; Clinical Neurology
Previous work investigating deficits in self-appraisal in behavioural-variant frontotemporal degeneration (bvFTD) has focused on a single domain: social/behavioural processes. We examined whether a domain-specific versus multi-domain model best explains degraded self-appraisal in bvFTD.
49 patients with bvFTD and 73 patients with Alzheimer’s disease (AD) were administered quantitative assessments of episodic memory, naming and grammatical comprehension. Self-appraisal of cognitive test performance was assessed by asking patients to rate their performance immediately after completing each neuropsychological test. A discrepancy score was created to reflect the difference between patient performance on neuropsychological tests and self-appraisal of their test performance. Self-appraisal for each neuropsychological measure was related to grey matter (GM) density in each group using voxel-based morphometry.
bvFTD patients were poor at evaluating their own performance on all cognitive tests, with no significant correlations between self-appraisal and actual performance. By contrast, poor self-appraisal in AD was restricted to episodic memory performance. Poor self-appraisal on each task in bvFTD and AD was related to reduced GM density in several ventral and rostral medial prefrontal regions. Crucially, poor self-appraisal for all domains in bvFTD was related to a specific area of reduced GM density in the subgenual cingulate (BA 25).
Poor self-appraisal in bvFTD affects multiple domains, and this multi-domain impairment pattern is associated with frontal disease in the subgenual cingulate.
A 40 year old man was admitted to the EEG monitoring unit for localization of epileptic focus and changes in medication regimen. The patient had undergone left frontal lobe resection during childhood for unknown pathology (Fig.1 A). Subsequently he developed secondary epilepsy characterized by nocturnal complex partial seizures with occasional secondary generalization. During the first two days of monitoring, a persistent myogenic artifact was seen localized to the T3 EEG electrode (Fig. 1 C). The artifact prevented localization of the patient’s clinical seizure during monitoring. We attributed the artifact to excessive muscle activity, as electrode lead replacement and repositioning did not resolve the artifact. The persistent muscle activity in the left temporalis was likely due to surgical-induced muscle damage (Fig.1 B). On the third monitoring day, a total of 80 units of botulinum toxin type A (BTX-A) were injected in the temporalis muscle, at four locations around the T3 electrode. The artifact disappeared completely within three days, demonstrating F7 interictal discharges (Fig.1 D) and the focal onset of ictal activity at F7-T3 (Fig.1 E). No BTX-A-related side effects were reported by the patient.
Deficits of flavour processing may be clinically important in frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD).
To examine flavour processing in FTLD.
We studied flavour identification prospectively in 25 patients with FTLD (12 with behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD), eight with semantic variant primary progressive aphasia (svPPA), five with non-fluent variant primary progressive aphasia (nfvPPA)) and 17 healthy control subjects, using a new test based on cross-modal matching of flavours to words and pictures. All subjects completed a general neuropsychological assessment, and odour identification was also assessed using a modified University of Pennsylvania Smell Identification Test. Brain MRI volumes from the patient cohort were analysed using voxel-based morphometry to identify regional grey matter associations of flavour identification.
Relative to the healthy control group, the bvFTD and svPPA subgroups showed significant (p<0.05) deficits of flavour identification and all three FTLD subgroups showed deficits of odour identification. Flavour identification performance did not differ significantly between the FTLD syndromic subgroups. Flavour identification performance in the combined FTLD cohort was significantly (p<0.05 after multiple comparisons correction) associated with grey matter volume in the left entorhinal cortex, hippocampus, parahippocampal gyrus and temporal pole.
Certain FTLD syndromes are associated with impaired flavour identification and this is underpinned by grey matter atrophy in an anteromedial temporal lobe network. These findings may have implications for our understanding of abnormal eating behaviour in these diseases.
Cognition; Dementia; Neuropsychology; MRI; Neuroanatomy
The main clinical manifestations of the spinocerebellar ataxias (SCAs) result from the involvement of the cerebellum and its connections. Cerebellar activity has been consistently observed in functional imaging studies of olfaction, but the anatomical pathways responsible for this connection have not yet been elucidated. Previous studies have demonstrated olfactory deficit in SCA2, Friedreich’s ataxia (FA) and in small groups of ataxia of diverse etiology. We used a validated version of the 16 item smell identification test from Sniffin’ Sticks (SS-16) was used to evaluate 37 patients with genetically determined autosomal dominant ataxia, and 31 with familial ataxia of unknown genetic basis .This data was also compared to results in 106 Parkinson’s disease (PD) patients and 218 healthy controls. The SS-16 score was significantly lower in ataxia than in the control group (p<0.001, 95%CI for β = 0.55 to 1.90) and significantly higher in ataxia than in PD (p<0.001, 95%CI for β = −4.58 to −3.00) when adjusted for age (p=0.001, 95%CI for β = −0.05 to −0.01), gender (p=0.19) and history of tobacco use (p=0.41). When adjusted for general cognitive function we found no significant difference between the ataxia and control group. Our study confirms previous findings of mild hyposmia in ataxia, and further suggests this may be due to general cognitive deficits rather than specific olfactory problems.
Movement disorders; Smell; Cerebellar ataxia; Cerebellar degeneration; Cognition
Deep brain stimulation (DBS) of the subthalamic nucleus (STN) improves motor function including gait and stability in people with PD, but differences in DBS contact locations within the STN may contribute to variability in the degree of improvement. Based on anatomic connectivity, dorsal STN may be preferentially involved in motor function and ventral STN in cognitive function. To determine whether dorsal DBS affects gait and balance more than ventral DBS, we conducted a double-blind evaluation of 23 PD patients with bilateral STN DBS. Each participant underwent gait analysis and balance testing off Parkinson medication in three DBS conditions (unilateral DBS in dorsal STN region, unilateral DBS in ventral STN region, and both stimulators off) on one day. For UPDRS-III scores and velocity for Fast and Pref gait, as well as stride length for Fast and Pref gait, dorsal and ventral stimulation improved gait, compared to the off condition (post hoc tests, p<0.05). However, there were no differences with dorsal compared to ventral stimulation. Balance, assessed using a multi-item clinical balance test (mini-BESTest), was similar across conditions. Absence of differences in gait and balance between dorsal and ventral conditions suggests motor connections involved in gait and balance may be more diffusely distributed in STN than previously thought, as opposed to neural connections involved in cognitive processes, such as response inhibition, which are more affected by ventral stimulation.
Parkinson Disease; Gait; Balance; Deep Brain Stimulation; Subthalamic Nucleus
A feeling of presence (FP), ie the vivid sensation that somebody (distinct from oneself) is present nearby, is commonly reported by patients with Parkinson’s disease (PD) but its phenomenology has not been described precisely. The objective of this study was to provide a detailed description of FP in PD and to discuss its possible mechanisms.
Patients and methods
We studied 52 non-demented PD patients reporting FP in the preceding month (38 consecutive outpatients and 14 inpatients). FP characteristics were recorded with a structured questionnaire. The outpatients with FP were compared to 78 consecutive outpatients without FP.
About half the patients said they recognized the “identity” of the presence. More than 75% of patients said the FP were not distressing, were short-lasting, were felt beside and/or behind the patient, and occurred while indoors; most patients checked for a real presence but their insight was generally preserved. In 31% of cases the patients had an unformed visual hallucination simultaneously with the FP. A higher daily levodopa-equivalent dose and the presence of visual illusions or hallucinations were independently associated with FP.
Although FP is not a sensory perception, projection of the sensation into the extrapersonal space, along with the frequent co-occurrence of elementary visual hallucinations and the strong association with visual hallucinations or illusions, support its hallucinatory nature. FP may be viewed as a “social” hallucination, involving an area or network specifically activated when a living being is present, independently of any perceptual clue.
Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a sporadic progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterised by autonomic failure, manifested as orthostatic hypotension or urogenital dysfunction, with combinations of parkinsonism that is poorly responsive to levodopa, cerebellar ataxia and corticospinal dysfunction. Published autopsy confirmed cases have provided reasonable neurological characterisation but have lacked adequate autonomic function testing.
To retrospectively evaluate if the autonomic characterisation of MSA is accurate in autopsy confirmed MSA and if consensus criteria are validated by autopsy confirmation.
29 autopsy confirmed cases of MSA evaluated at the Mayo Clinic who had undergone formalised autonomic testing, including adrenergic, sudomotor and cardiovagal functions and Thermoregulatory Sweat Test (TST), from which the Composite Autonomic Severity Score (CASS) was derived, were included in the study.
Patient characteristics: 17 men, 12 women; age of onset 57±8.1 years; disease duration to death 6.5±3.3 years; first symptom autonomic in 18, parkinsonism in seven and cerebellar in two. Clinical phenotype at first visit was MSA-P (predominant parkinsonism) in 18, MSA-C (predominant cerebellar involvement) in eight, pure autonomic failure in two and Parkinson’s disease in one. Clinical diagnosis at last visit was MSA for 28 cases. Autonomic failure was severe: CASS was 7.2±2.3 (maximum 10). TST% was 65.6±33.9% and exceeded 30% in 82% of patients. The most common pattern was global anhidrosis. Norepinephrine was normal supine (203.6±112.7) but orthostatic increment of 33.5±23.2% was reduced. Four clinical features (rapid progression, early postural instability, poor levodopa responsiveness and symmetric involvement) were common.
The pattern of severe and progressive generalised autonomic failure with severe adrenergic and sudomotor failure combined with the clinical phenotype is highly predictive of MSA.
To assess the possibility that diffusion tensor imaging (DTI) can detect white matter damage in mild traumatic brain injury (mTBI) patients via systematic review and meta-analysis.
DTI studies that compared mTBI patients and controls were searched using MEDLINE, Web of Science, and EMBASE, (1980 through April 2012).
A comprehensive literature search identified 28 DTI studies, of which 13 independent DTI studies of mTBI patients were eligible for the meta-analysis. Random effect model demonstrated significant fractional anisotropy (FA) reduction in the corpus callosum (CC) (p=0.023, 95% CIs −0.466 to −0.035, 280 mTBIs and 244 controls) with no publication bias and minimum heterogeneity, and a significant increase in mean diffusivity (MD) (p=0.015, 95% CIs 0.062 to 0.581, 154 mTBIs and 100 controls). Meta-analyses of the subregions of the CC demonstrated in the splenium FA was significantly reduced (p=0.025, 95% CIs −0.689 to −0.046) and MD was significantly increased (p=0.013, 95% CIs 0.113 to 0.950). FA was marginally reduced in the midbody (p=0.099, 95% CIs −0.404 to 0.034), and no significant change in FA (p=0.421, 95% CIs −0.537 to 0.224) and MD (p=0.264, 95% CIs −0.120 to 0.438) in the genu of the CC.
Our meta-analysis revealed the posterior part of the CC was more vulnerable to mTBI compared with the anterior part, and suggested the potential utility of DTI to detect white matter damage in the CC of mTBI patients.
Corpus callosum; fractional anisotropy; human; systematic review; meta-analysis
A first in human study to evaluate tolerability and pharmacokinetics followed by an early proof of mechanism (POM) study to determine whether the small orally, available molecule, Posiphen tartrate (Posiphen), lowers secreted (s) amyloid-β precursor protein (APP) α and -β, amyloid-β peptide (Aβ), tau (τ) and inflammatory markers in CSF of patients with mild cognitive impairment (MCI).
Posiphen single and multiple ascending dose phase 1 randomised, double blind, placebo-controlled safety, tolerance, pharmacokinetic studies were undertaken in a total of 120 healthy volunteers to define a dose that was then used in a small non-randomised study of five MCI subjects, used as their own controls, to define target engagement.
Main outcome measures
Pharmacodynamic: sAPPα, sAPPβ, Aβ42, τ (total (t) and phosphorylated (p)) and inflammatory marker levels were time-dependently measured over 12 h and compared prior to and following 10 days of oral Posiphen treatment in four MCI subjects who completed the study. Pharmacokinetic: plasma and CSF drug and primary metabolite concentrations with estimated brain levels extrapolated from steady-state drug administration in rats.
Posiphen proved well tolerated and significantly lowered CSF levels of sAPPα, sAPPβ, t-τ, p-τ and specific inflammatory markers, and demonstrated a trend to lower CSF Aβ42.
These results confirm preclinical POM studies, demonstrate that pharmacologically relevant drug/metabolite levels reach brain and support the continued clinical optimisation and evaluation of Posiphen for MCI and Alzheimer's disease.
Posiphen; amyloid precursor protein; amyloid-β peptide; inflammatory markers; mild cognitive impairment; genetics; B12 deficiency; neurochemistry; Alzheimer's disease; amyloid; head injury; Parkinson's disease
It has been hypothesised that seizure induced neuronal loss and axonal damage in medial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE) may lead to the development of aberrant connections between limbic structures and eventually result in the reorganisation of the limbic network. In this study, limbic structural connectivity in patients with MTLE was investigated, using diffusion tensor MRI, probabilistic tractography and graph theory based network analysis.
12 patients with unilateral MTLE and hippocampal sclerosis (five left and seven right MTLE) and 26 healthy controls were studied. The connectivity of 10 bilateral limbic regions of interest was mapped with probabilistic tractography, and the probabilistic fibre density between each pair of regions was used as the measure of their weighted structural connectivity. Binary connectivity matrices were then obtained from the weighted connectivity matrix using a range of fixed density thresholds. Graph theory based properties of nodes (degree, local efficiency, clustering coefficient and betweenness centrality) and the network (global efficiency and average clustering coefficient) were calculated from the weight and binary connectivity matrices of each subject and compared between patients and controls.
MTLE was associated with a regional reduction in fibre density compared with controls. Paradoxically, patients exhibited (1) increased limbic network clustering and (2) increased nodal efficiency, degree and clustering coefficient in the ipsilateral insula, superior temporal region and thalamus. There was also a significant reduction in clustering coefficient and efficiency of the ipsilateral hippocampus, accompanied by increased nodal degree.
These results suggest that MTLE is associated with reorganisation of the limbic system. These results corroborate the concept of MTLE as a network disease, and may contribute to the understanding of network excitability dynamics in epilepsy and MTLE.
Some patients meeting behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) diagnostic criteria progress slowly and plateau at mild symptom severity. Such patients have mild neuropsychological and functional impairments, lack characteristic bvFTD brain atrophy, and have thus been referred to as bvFTD “phenocopies” or slowly progressive (bvFTD-SP). The few patients with bvFTD-SP that have been studied at autopsy have found no evidence of FTD pathology, suggesting that bvFTD-SP is neuropathologically distinct from other forms of FTD. Here, we describe two patients with bvFTD-SP with chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9ORF72) hexanucleotide expansions.
Three hundred and eighty-four patients with FTD clinical spectrum and Alzheimer’s disease diagnoses were screened for C9ORF72 expansion. Two bvFTD-SP mutation carriers were identified. Neuropsychological and functional data, as well as brain atrophy patterns assessed using voxel-based morphometry (VBM), were compared with 44 patients with sporadic bvFTD and 85 healthy controls.
Both patients were age 48 at baseline and met possible bvFTD criteria. In the first patient, VBM revealed thalamic and posterior insula atrophy. Over seven years, his neuropsychological performance and brain atrophy remained stable. In the second patient, VBM revealed cortical atrophy with subtle frontal and insular volume loss. Over two years, her neuropsychological and functional scores as well as brain atrophy remained stable.
C9ORF72 mutations can present with a bvFTD-SP phenotype. Some bvFTD-SP patients may have neurodegenerative pathology, and C9ORF72 mutations should be considered in patients with bvFTD-SP and a family history of dementia or motor neuron disease.
C9ORF72; C9FTD/ALS; frontotemporal dementia; genetics; dementia
Different degenerative brain diseases result in distinct personality changes as a result of divergent patterns of brain damage, however, little is known about the natural history of these personality changes throughout the course of each disease.
To investigate how interpersonal traits change as a function of degenerative brain disease type and severity.
Using the Interpersonal Adjective Scales, informant ratings of retrospective premorbid and current scores for dominance, extraversion, warmth, and ingenuousness were collected annually for one to four years on 188 patients [67 behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD), 40 semantic dementia (SemD), 81 Alzheimer’s disease (AD)] and 65 older healthy controls. Using random coefficient models, interpersonal behaviour scores at very mild, mild, or moderate-to-severe disease stages were compared within and between patient groups.
Group-level changes from premorbid personality occurred as a function of disease type and severity, and were apparent even at a very mild disease stage (Clinical Dementia Rating=0.5) for all three diseases. Decreases in interpersonal traits associated with emotional affiliation (i.e., extraversion, warmth, and ingenuousness) and more rigid interpersonal behaviour differentiated bvFTD and SemD patients from AD patients.
Specific changes in affiliative interpersonal traits differentiate degenerative brain diseases even at a very mild disease stage, and patterns of personality change differ across bvFTD, SemD, and AD with advancing disease. This study describes the typical progression of change of interpersonal traits in each disease, improving the ability of clinicians and caregivers to predict and plan for symptom progression.
neurodegenerative diseases; dementia; personality; affiliation; mixed effects model
Deterioration of cognitive functioning is a debilitating symptom in many neurodegenerative diseases, such as Huntington's disease (HD). To date, there are no effective treatments for the cognitive problems associated with HD. Cognitive assessment outcomes will have a central role in the efforts to develop treatments to delay onset or slow the progression of the disease. The TRACK-HD study was designed to build a rational basis for the selection of cognitive outcomes for HD clinical trials.
There were a total of 349 participants, including controls (n=116), premanifest HD (n=117) and early HD (n=116). A standardised cognitive assessment battery (including nine cognitive tests comprising 12 outcome measures) was administered at baseline, and at 12 and 24 months, and consisted of a combination of paper and pencil and computerised tasks selected to be sensitive to cortical-striatal damage or HD. Each cognitive outcome was analysed separately using a generalised least squares regression model. Results are expressed as effect sizes to permit comparisons between tasks.
10 of the 12 cognitive outcomes showed evidence of deterioration in the early HD group, relative to controls, over 24 months, with greatest sensitivity in Symbol Digit, Circle Tracing direct and indirect, and Stroop word reading. In contrast, there was very little evidence of deterioration in the premanifest HD group relative to controls.
The findings describe tests that are sensitive to longitudinal cognitive change in HD and elucidate important considerations for selecting cognitive outcomes for clinical trials of compounds aimed at ameliorating cognitive decline in HD.
Progressive accumulation of specific misfolded protein is a defining feature of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), similarly seen in Alzheimer disease, Parkinson disease, Huntington disease and Creutzfeldt–Jakob disease. The intercellular transfer of inclusions made of tau, α-synuclein and huntingtin has been demonstrated, revealing the existence of mechanisms reminiscent of those by which prions spread through the nervous system. Evidence for such a prion-like propagation mechanism has now spread to the major misfolded proteins, superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) and the 43 kDa transactive response DNA binding protein (TDP-43), implicated in ALS. The focus in this review is on what is known about ALS progression in terms of clinical as well as molecular aspects. Furthermore, the concept of ‘propagation’ is dissected into contiguous and non-contiguous types, and this concept is expanded to the severity of the focal symptom as well as its regional spread which can be explained by cell to cell propagation in the local neuron pool.
In reflex epilepsies, alteration of gamma oscillations may mediate transition between interictal and ictal states. Here we explored a patient having seizures triggered by syrup intake. From intracranial electroencephalography combined with functional magnetic resonance imaging, the overlap of the gustatory cortex and of the preictal and ictal onset zones, as defined by early gamma changes, motivated the successful resective surgery of the middle short gyrus of the right insula. This case provides a rare demonstration from human gamma activity that the route to seizure may be supported by the interplay between physiological and epileptogenic networks.
Brain Mapping; Brain Waves; physiology; Cerebral Cortex; physiopathology; surgery; Dominance, Cerebral; physiology; Electroencephalography; Epilepsy, Reflex; diagnosis; physiopathology; surgery; Female; Frontal Lobe; physiopathology; surgery; Hemangioma, Cavernous, Central Nervous System; surgery; Humans; Image Processing, Computer-Assisted; Magnetic Resonance Imaging; Nerve Net; physiopathology; surgery; Postoperative Complications; diagnosis; physiopathology; surgery; Young Adult; Case Report, Eating seizures; Functional MRI; Gamma oscillations; Gustatory Cortex; Insula; Reflex Epilepsy; Stereo-Electroencephalography
Traumatic spinal cord injury (SCI) leads to disruption of axonal architecture and macroscopic tissue loss with impaired information flow between the brain and spinal cord—the presumed basis of ensuing clinical impairment.
The authors used a clinically viable, multimodal MRI protocol to quantify the axonal integrity of the cranial corticospinal tract (CST) and to establish how microstructural white matter changes in the CST are related to cross-sectional spinal cord area and cortical reorganisation of the sensorimotor system in subjects with traumatic SCI.
Nine volunteers with cervical injuries resulting in bilateral motor impairment and 14 control subjects were studied. The authors used diffusion tensor imaging to assess white matter integrity in the CST, T1-weighted imaging to measure cross-sectional spinal cord area and functional MRI to compare motor task-related brain activations. The relationships among microstructural, macrostructural and functional measures were assessed using regression analyses.
Diffusion tensor imaging revealed significant differences in the CST of SCI subjects—compared with controls—in the pyramids, the internal capsule, the cerebral peduncle and the hand area. The microstructural white matter changes observed in the left pyramid predicted increased task-related responses in the left M1 leg area, while changes in the cerebral peduncle were predicted by reduced cord area.
The observed microstructural changes suggest trauma-related axonal degeneration and demyelination, which are related to cortical motor reorganisation and macrostructure. The extent of these changes may reflect the plasticity of motor pathways associated with cortical reorganisation. This clinically viable multimodal imaging approach is therefore appropriate for monitoring degeneration of central pathways and the evaluation of treatments targeting axonal repair in SCI.
Spinal cord trauma; motor cortex; functional neuroimaging; DWI; fMRI; functional imaging; MRI; health policy and practice; spasticity; rehabilitation; multiple sclerosis
Hippocampal changes may be a useful biomarker for Alzheimer’s disease if they are specific to dementia sub-type. We compare hippocampal volume and shape in population-based incident cases of Alzheimer’s disease and vascular dementia (VaD).
Participants are Japanese-American men from the Honolulu Asia Aging Study. The following analysis is based on a sub-group of men with mild incident Alzheimer’s disease (n=24: age=82.5±4.6) or incident VaD (n=14: age=80.5±4.5). To estimate hippocampal volume, one reader, blinded to dementia diagnosis, manually outlined the left and right formation of the hippocampus using published criteria. We used 3-D mapping methods developed at the Laboratory of Neuro Imaging (LONI) to compare regional variation in hippocampal width between dementia groups.
Hippocampal volume was about 5% smaller in the Alzheimer’s disease group compared to the VaD group, but the difference was not significant. Hippocampal shape differed between the two case groups for the left (p<0.04) but not right (p<0.21) hippocampus. The specific region of the hippocampus that most consistently differed between the Alzheimer’s disease and VaD cases was in the lateral portion of the left hippocampus. Our interpretation of this region is that it intersects the CA1 sub-region to a great extent but also includes the dentate gyrus (and hilar region) and subiculum.
As indicated by shape analysis, there are some differences in atrophy localisation between the Alzheimer’s disease and VaD cases, despite the finding that volume of the hippocampi did not differ. These findings suggest hippocampal atrophy in Alzheimer’s disease may be more focal than in VaD.
Basic lexical skills are hypotheseized to be relatively preserved in mild dementia but clinical studies have had inconsistent results.
More than 400 older Catholic nuns, priests, and brother recruited from groups across the United States completed annual evaluations for up to 15 years, died, and underwent brain autopsy. Each clinical evaluation included administration of a 20-item word reading test and a 15-item vocabulary test which were combined to form a composite measure of word knowledge. In a uniform neuropathologic examination, Alzheimer’s disease pathology was quantified with a composite index of plaques and tangles and the presence of gross and microscopic cerebral infarctions and Lewy bodies was recorded.
Postmortem pathologic level of Alzheimer’s disease was linearly related to rate of decline in word knowledge. Decline was nearly fourfold faster at a relatively high level of pathology (75th percentile) compared to a relatively low level (25th percentile). Effects for word reading and vocabulary were similar. Gross cerebral infarctions and Lewy bodies were associated with accelerated decline in vocabulary but not in word reading.
Common chronic neurodegenerative conditions impair word knowledge in old age.
Alzheimer’s disease; cerebrovascular disease; Lewy bodies; cognition; post mortem
The concept of antibody mediated CNS disorders is relatively recent. The classical CNS paraneoplastic neurological syndromes are thought to be T cell mediated, and the onconeural antibodies merely biomarkers for the presence of the tumour. Thus it was thought that antibodies rarely, if ever, cause CNS disease. Over the past 10 years, identification of autoimmune forms of encephalitis with antibodies against neuronal surface antigens, particularly the voltage gated potassium channel complex proteins or the glutamate N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor, have shown that CNS disorders, often without associated tumours, can be antibody mediated and benefit from immunomodulatory therapies. The clinical spectrum of these diseases is not yet fully explored, there may be others yet to be discovered and some types of more common disorders (eg, epilepsy or psychosis) may prove to have an autoimmune basis. Here, the known conditions associated with neuronal surface antibodies are briefly reviewed, some general aspects of these syndromes are considered and guidelines that could help in the recognition of further disorders are suggested.
Relatively few studies have searched for potentially pathogenic antibodies in non-paraneoplastic patients with cerebellar ataxia.
Methods and Results
We first screened sera from 52 idiopathic ataxia patients for binding of serum IgG antibodies to cerebellar neurons. One strong-binding serum was selected for immunoprecipitation and mass spectrometry, which resulted in the identification of contactin-associated protein 2 (CASPR2) as a major antigen. CASPR2 antibodies were then found by a cell-based assay in 9/88 (10%) ataxia patients, compared to 3/144 (2%) multiple sclerosis or dementia controls (p=0.011). CASPR2 is strongly expressed in the cerebellum, only partly in association with voltage-gated potassium channels.
Prospective studies are now needed to see whether identification of CASPR2 antibodies has relevance for the diagnosis and treatment of idiopathic cerebellar ataxia.
CASPR2; autoimmune; cerebellar ataxia; VGKC-complex; antibody; neuroimmunology; neurooncology; NMDA; paraneoplastic syndrome; stiff man syndrome; biochemistry; molecular biology; multiple sclerosis; neuroepidemiology; neurogenetics; myasthenia; channels; lambert eaton syndrome; stiff man syndr; limbic system
Frontotemporal dementia-amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FTD-ALS) is a heritable form of FTD, but the gene(s) responsible for the majority of autosomal dominant FTD-ALS cases have yet to be found. Previous studies have identified a region on chromosome 9p that is associated with FTD and ALS.
The authors report the clinical, volumetric MRI, neuropathological and genetic features of a new chromosome 9p-linked FTD-ALS family, VSM-20.
Ten members of family VSM-20 displayed heterogeneous clinical phenotypes of isolated behavioural-variant FTD (bvFTD), ALS or a combination of the two. Parkinsonism was common, with one individual presenting with a corticobasal syndrome. Analysis of structural MRI scans from five affected family members revealed grey- and white-matter loss that was most prominent in the frontal lobes, with mild parietal and occipital lobe atrophy, but less temporal lobe atrophy than in 10 severity-matched sporadic bvFTD cases. Autopsy in three family members showed a consistent and unique subtype of FTLD-TDP pathology. Genome-wide linkage analysis conclusively linked family VSM-20 to a 28.3 cM region between D9S1808 and D9S251 on chromosome 9p, reducing the published minimal linked region to a 3.7 Mb interval. Genomic sequencing and expression analysis failed to identify mutations in the 10 known and predicted genes within this candidate region, suggesting that next-generation sequencing may be needed to determine the mutational mechanism associated with chromosome 9p-linked FTD-ALS.
Family VSM-20 significantly reduces the region linked to FTD-ALS on chromosome 9p. A distinct pattern of brain atrophy and neuropathological findings may help to identify other families with FTD-ALS caused by this genetic abnormality.
The term ‘functional’ has a distinguished history, embodying a number of physiological concepts, but has increasingly come to mean ‘hysterical’. The DSM-V working group proposes to use ‘functional’ as the official diagnostic term for medically unexplained neurological symptoms (currently known as ‘conversion disorder’). This study aimed to explore the current neurological meanings of the term and to understand its resilience.
Mixed methods were used, first interviewing the neurologists in a large UK region and then surveying all neurologists in the UK on their use of the term.
The interviews revealed four dominant uses—‘not organic’, a physical disability, a brain disorder and a psychiatric problem—as well as considerable ambiguity. Although there was much dissatisfaction with the term, the ambiguity was also seen as useful when engaging with patients. The survey confirmed these findings, with a majority adhering to a strict interpretation of ‘functional’ to mean only ‘not organic’, but a minority employing it to mean different things in different contexts - and endorsing the view that ‘functional’ would one day be a neurological construct again.
‘Functional’ embodies real divisions in neurologists' conceptualisation of unexplained symptoms and, perhaps, between those of patients and neurologists: its diversity of meanings allows it to be a common term while meaning different things to different people, or at different times, and thus conceal some of the conflict in a particularly contentious area. This flexibility may help explain the term's longevity.
Visual hallucinations (VH) occur commonly in Parkinson's disease (PD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) but are reported much less frequently in other neurodegenerative causes of parkinsonism, such as progressive supranuclear palsy, multiple system atrophy and corticobasal degeneration syndrome. This clinical sign may be helpful when considering the differential diagnosis of patients with parkinsonism. The observation that VH may be specific to Lewy body pathology probably reflects a greater vulnerability of the visual systems to PD and DLB neurodegeneration compared with other diseases. Topographic differences in pathology are probably the major factor producing VH in Lewy body diseases, rather than neurophysiological changes that are specific to α-synuclein protein accumulation. VH correlate with pathology in the limbic system and more specifically the amygdale that is frequently affected in PD and DLB but relatively preserved in other forms of parkinsonism often misdiagnosed as PD. In this review, the published frequencies of VH in these different conditions are compared to put into context the notion of VH as a clinical clue to underlying Lewy body pathology.
To investigate whether some patients with very mild Alzheimer's disease (AD) demonstrate disproportionate executive dysfunction relative to amnesia and how this relates to functional impairment in daily life, future clinical decline, APOE genotype and regional cortical thickness measured from MRI scan data.
The Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative dataset was interrogated for a primary sample of patients with very mild AD dementia (n=100) and a secondary confirmatory sample of patients with mild cognitive impairment (n=396). An executive predominant subgroup was defined as having executive performance ≥2 SDs worse than memory performance and a memory predominant subgroup was defined conversely. A priori regions of interest from a previous study of an AD patient sample were used to obtain cortical thickness measures.
Despite equivalent global measures of impairment (Mini-Mental State Examination, Clinical Dementia Rating (CDR) Sum of Boxes), executive predominant patients (n=88) were more impaired on other executive measures and in the CDR Judgement and Problem Solving box (p<0.005) while memory predominant patients (n=56) were more impaired on other memory measures (p<0.05). The APOE-ε4 allele was much more frequent in the memory predominant subgroup (p<0.0001). Frontoparietal cortical regions were thinner in the executive predominant group than in the memory predominant group (p<0.05).
A dysexecutive clinical phenotype of very mild AD is not rare and is associated with more problem solving difficulties and possibly more rapid progression compared with patients with a predominant amnesic phenotype. Executive predominant AD may reflect an alternative underlying pathophysiology related to genetic status, reflected in more prominent pathological alterations in frontoparietal regions subserving executive function. These findings, which deserve further investigation, may have implications for diagnosis, prognostication, monitoring and related issues involved in clinical research and care.