Frontotemporal Degeneration (FTD) is a common cause of dementia for which there are currently no approved therapies. Over the past decade there has been an explosion of knowledge about the biology and clinical features of FTD that has identified a number of promising therapeutic targets as well as animal models in which to develop drugs. The close association of some forms of FTD with neuropathological accumulation of tau protein or increased neuroinflammation due to progranulin protein deficiency suggests that a drug’s success in treating FTD may predict efficacy in more common diseases such as Alzheimer’s disease (AD). A variety of regulatory incentives, clinical features of FTD, such as rapid disease progression, and relatively pure molecular pathology, suggest that there are advantages to developing drugs for FTD as compared to other more common neurodegenerative diseases such as AD. In March 2011, the Frontotemporal Dementia Treatment Study Group (FTSG) sponsored a conference entitled,“ FTD, the Next Therapeutic Frontier,” focused on pre-clinical aspects of FTD drug development. The goal of the meeting was to promote collaborations between academic researchers and biotechnology and pharmaceutical researchers to accelerate the development of new treatments for FTD. Here we report the key findings from the conference, including the rationale for FTD drug development, epidemiological, genetic and neuropathological features of FTD, FTD animal models and how best to use them and examples of successful drug-development collaborations in other neurodegenerative diseases.
The term frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) refers to a group of progressive brain diseases, which preferentially involve the frontal and temporal lobes. Depending on the primary site of atrophy, the clinical manifestation is dominated by behavior alterations or impairment of language. The onset of symptoms usually occurs before the age of 60 years, and the mean survival from diagnosis varies between 3 and 10 years. The prevalence is estimated at 15 per 100,000 in the population aged between 45 and 65 years, which is similar to the prevalence of Alzheimer’s disease in this age group. There are two major clinical subtypes, behavioral-variant frontotemporal dementia and primary progressive aphasia. The neuropathology underlying the clinical syndromes is also heterogeneous. A common feature is the accumulation of certain neuronal proteins. Of these, the microtubule-associated protein tau (MAPT), the transactive response DNA-binding protein, and the fused in sarcoma protein are most important. Approximately 10% to 30% of FTLD shows an autosomal dominant pattern of inheritance, with mutations in the genes for MAPT, progranulin (GRN), and in the chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9orf72) accounting for more than 80% of familial cases. Although significant advances have been made in recent years regarding diagnostic criteria, clinical assessment instruments, neuropsychological tests, cerebrospinal fluid biomarkers, and brain imaging techniques, the clinical diagnosis remains a challenge. To date, there is no specific pharmacological treatment for FTLD. Some evidence has been provided for serotonin reuptake inhibitors to reduce behavioral disturbances. No large-scale or high-quality studies have been conducted to determine the efficacy of non-pharmacological treatment approaches in FTLD. In view of the limited treatment options, caregiver education and support is currently the most important component of the clinical management.
review; frontotemporal dementia; frontotemporal lobar degeneration
Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a clinical syndrome with heterogeneous molecular basis. Until recently, our knowledge was limited to a minority of cases associated with abnormalities of the tau protein or gene (MAPT). However, in 2006, mutations in progranulin (GRN) were discovered as another important cause of familial FTD. That same year, TAR DNA binding protein 43 (TDP-43) was identified as the pathological protein in the most common subtypes of FTD and ALS. Since then, significant efforts have been made to understand the normal functions and regulation of GRN and TDP-43 and their roles in neurodegeneration. More recently, other DNA/RNA binding proteins (FUS, EWS and TAF15) were identified as pathological proteins in most of the remaining cases of FTD. And just six months ago, abnormal expansion of a hexanucleotide repeat in C9ORF72 was found to be the most common genetic cause of both FTD and ALS. With this remarkable progress, it appears that all the common FTD-causing genes have now been discovered and the major pathological proteins identified. This review highlights recent advances in the molecular aspects of FTD, which will provide the basis for improved patient care through the future development of more targeted diagnostic tests and therapies.
Inflammation clearly occurs in pathologically vulnerable regions of the Alzheimer’s disease (AD) brain, and it does so with the full complexity of local peripheral inflammatory responses. In the periphery, degenerating tissue and the deposition of highly insoluble abnormal materials are classical stimulants of inflammation. Likewise, in the AD brain damaged neurons and neurites and highly insoluble amyloid β peptide deposits and neurofibrillary tangles provide obvious stimuli for inflammation. Because these stimuli are discrete, microlocalized, and present from early preclinical to terminal stages of AD, local upregulation of complement, cytokines, acute phase reactants, and other inflammatory mediators is also discrete, microlocalized, and chronic. Cumulated over many years, direct and bystander damage from AD inflammatory mechanisms is likely to significantly exacerbate the very pathogenic processes that gave rise to it. Thus, animal models and clinical studies, although still in their infancy, strongly suggest that AD inflammation significantly contributes to AD pathogenesis. By better understanding AD inflammatory and immunoregulatory processes, it should be possible to develop anti-inflammatory approaches that may not cure AD but will likely help slow the progression or delay the onset of this devastating disorder.
Alzheimer’s disease; Inflammation; Nervous system; Neuroinflammation; Complement; Cytokine; Chemokine; Acute phase protein; Microglia; Astrocyte; Neuron
Progranulin (GRN) mutations causing haploinsufficiency are a major cause of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD-TDP). Recent discoveries demonstrating sortilin (SORT1) is a neuronal receptor for PGRN endocytosis and a determinant of plasma PGRN levels portend the development of enhancers targeting the SORT1–PGRN axis. We demonstrate the preclinical efficacy of several approaches through which impairing PGRN's interaction with SORT1 restores extracellular PGRN levels. Our report is the first to demonstrate the efficacy of enhancing PGRN levels in iPSC neurons derived from frontotemporal dementia (FTD) patients with PGRN deficiency. We validate a small molecule preferentially increases extracellular PGRN by reducing SORT1 levels in various mammalian cell lines and patient-derived iPSC neurons and lymphocytes. We further demonstrate that SORT1 antagonists and a small-molecule binder of PGRN588–593, residues critical for PGRN–SORT1 binding, inhibit SORT1-mediated PGRN endocytosis. Collectively, our data demonstrate that the SORT1–PGRN axis is a viable target for PGRN-based therapy, particularly in FTD-GRN patients.
Baylisascaris procyonis; ascarid roundworm; parasites; Alzheimer disease; dementia; elderly person; Canada
Neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease (NIFID) is an uncommon neurodegenerative condition that typically presents as early-onset, sporadic frontotemporal dementia (FTD), associated with a pyramidal and/or extrapyramidal movement disorder. The neuropathology is characterized by frontotemporal lobar degeneration with neuronal inclusions that are immunoreactive for all class IV intermediate filaments (IF), light, medium and heavy neurofilament subunits and α-internexin. However, not all the inclusions in NIFID are IF-positive and the primary molecular defect remains uncertain. Mutations in the gene encoding the fused in sarcoma (FUS) protein have recently been identified as a cause of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Because of the recognized clinical, genetic and pathological overlap between FTD and ALS, we investigated the possible role of FUS in NIFID. We found abnormal intracellular accumulation of FUS to be a consistent feature of our NIFID cases (n = 5). More neuronal inclusions were labeled using FUS immunohistochemistry than for IF. Several types of inclusions were consistently FUS-positive but IF-negative, including neuronal intranuclear inclusions and glial cytoplasmic inclusions. Double-label immunofluorescence confirmed that many cells had only FUS-positive inclusions and that all cells with IF-positive inclusions also contained pathological FUS. No mutations in the FUS gene were identified in a single case with DNA available. These findings suggest that FUS may play an important role in the pathogenesis of NIFID.
frontotemporal dementia; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; neuronal intermediate filament disease; fused in liposarcoma; translocated in sarcoma
Frontotemporal dementia; ALS; genetics; Asian; C9ORF72
Frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis are closely related clinical syndromes with overlapping molecular pathogenesis. Several families have been reported with members affected by frontotemporal dementia, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis or both, which show genetic linkage to a region on chromosome 9p21. Recently, two studies identified the FTD/ALS gene defect on chromosome 9p as an expanded GGGGCC hexanucleotide repeat in a non-coding region of the chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 gene (C9ORF72). In the present study, we provide detailed analysis of the clinical features and neuropathology for 16 unrelated families with frontotemporal dementia caused by the C9ORF72 mutation. All had an autosomal dominant pattern of inheritance. Eight families had a combination of frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis while the other eight had a pure frontotemporal dementia phenotype. Clinical information was available for 30 affected members of the 16 families. There was wide variation in age of onset (mean = 54.3, range = 34–74 years) and disease duration (mean = 5.3, range = 1–16 years). Early diagnoses included behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia (n = 15), progressive non-fluent aphasia (n = 5), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (n = 9) and progressive non-fluent aphasia–amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (n = 1). Heterogeneity in clinical presentation was also common within families. However, there was a tendency for the phenotypes to converge with disease progression; seven subjects had final clinical diagnoses of both frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and all of those with an initial progressive non-fluent aphasia diagnosis subsequently developed significant behavioural abnormalities. Twenty-one affected family members came to autopsy and all were found to have transactive response DNA binding protein with Mr 43 kD (TDP-43) pathology in a wide neuroanatomical distribution. All had involvement of the extramotor neocortex and hippocampus (frontotemporal lobar degeneration-TDP) and all but one case (clinically pure frontotemporal dementia) had involvement of lower motor neurons, characteristic of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. In addition, a consistent and relatively specific pathological finding was the presence of neuronal inclusions in the cerebellar cortex that were ubiquitin/p62-positive but TDP-43-negative. Our findings indicate that the C9ORF72 mutation is a major cause of familial frontotemporal dementia with TDP-43 pathology, that likely accounts for the majority of families with combined frontotemporal dementia/amyotrophic lateral sclerosis presentation, and further support the concept that frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis represent a clinicopathological spectrum of disease with overlapping molecular pathogenesis.
frontotemporal dementia; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; C9ORF72, TDP-43
We and others have recently reported an association between ALS and single nucleotide polymorphisms on chromosome 9p21 in several populations. Here we show that the associated haplotype is the same in all populations and that several families previously shown to have genetic linkage to this region also share this haplotype. The most parsimonious explanation of these data is that there is a single founder for this form of disease.
Genetics; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; frontotemporal dementia; Finland
Abnormal neuronal aggregates of α-internexin and the three neurofilament (NF) subunits, NF-L, NF-M, and NF-H have recently been identified as the pathological hallmarks of neuronal intermediate filament (IF) inclusion disease (NIFID), a novel neurological disease of early onset with a variable clinical phenotype including frontotemporal dementia, pyramidal and extrapyramidal signs. α-Internexin, a class IV IF protein, a major component of inclusions in NIFID, has not previously been identified as a component of the pathological protein aggregates of any other neurodegenerative disease. Therefore, to determine the specificity of this protein, α-internexin immunohistochemistry was undertaken on cases of NIFID, non-tau frontotemporal dementias, motor neuron disease, α-synucleinopathies, tauopathies, and normal aged control brains. Our results indicate that class IV IF proteins are present within the pleomorphic inclusions of all cases of NIFID. Small subsets of abnormal neuronal inclusions in Alzheimer's disease, Lewy body diseases, and motor neuron disease also contain epitopes of α-internexin. Thus, α-internexin is a major component of the neuronal inclusions in NIFID and a relatively minor component of inclusions in other neurodegenerative diseases. The discovery of α-internexin in neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions implicates novel mechanisms of pathogenesis in NIFID and other neurological diseases with pathological filamentous neuronal inclusions.
α-Internexin; Neurofilament; Intermediate filament; Neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease; Frontotemporal dementia
Several families have been reported with autosomal dominant frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), genetically linked to chromosome 9p21. Here we report an expansion of a non-coding GGGGCC hexanucleotide repeat in the gene C9ORF72 that is strongly associated with disease in a large FTD/ALS kindred, previously reported to be conclusively linked to chromosome 9p. This same repeat expansion was identified in the majority of our families with a combined FTD/ALS phenotype and TDP-43 based pathology. Analysis of extended clinical series found the C9ORF72 repeat expansion to be the most common genetic abnormality in both familial FTD (11.7%) and familial ALS (22.5%). The repeat expansion leads to the loss of one alternatively spliced C9ORF72 transcript and to formation of nuclear RNA foci, suggesting multiple disease mechanisms. Our findings indicate that repeat expansion in C9ORF72 is a major cause of both FTD and ALS.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is clinically, pathologically and genetically heterogeneous. Three major proteins are implicated in its pathogenesis. About half of cases are characterized by depositions of the microtubule associated protein, tau (FTLD-tau). In most of the remaining cases, deposits of the transactive response (TAR) DNA-binding protein with Mw of 43 kDa, known as TDP-43 (FTLD-TDP), are seen. Lastly, about 5–10 % of cases are characterized by abnormal accumulations of a third protein, fused in sarcoma (FTLD-FUS). Depending on the protein concerned, the signature accumulations can take the form of inclusion bodies (neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions and neuronal intranuclear inclusions) or dystrophic neurites, in the cerebral cortex, hippocampus and subcortex. In some instances, glial cells are also affected by inclusion body formation. In motor neurone disease (MND), TDP-43 or FUS inclusions can present within motor neurons of the brain stem and spinal cord. This present paper attempts to critically examine the role of such proteins in the pathogenesis of FTLD and MND as to whether they might exert a direct pathogenetic effect (gain of function), or simply act as relatively innocent witnesses to a more fundamental loss of function effect. We conclude that although there is strong evidence for both gain and loss of function effects in respect of each of the proteins concerned, in reality, it is likely that each is a single face of either side of the coin, and that both will play separate, though complementary, roles in driving the damage which ultimately leads to the downfall of neurons and clinical expression of disease.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Motor neurone disease; Microtubule associated protein; Tau; TDP-43; FUS; Gain of function; Loss of function
Accumulation of the DNA/RNA binding protein fused in sarcoma as cytoplasmic inclusions in neurons and glial cells is the pathological hallmark of all patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis with mutations in FUS as well as in several subtypes of frontotemporal lobar degeneration, which are not associated with FUS mutations. The mechanisms leading to inclusion formation and fused in sarcoma-associated neurodegeneration are only poorly understood. Because fused in sarcoma belongs to a family of proteins known as FET, which also includes Ewing’s sarcoma and TATA-binding protein-associated factor 15, we investigated the potential involvement of these other FET protein family members in the pathogenesis of fused in sarcoma proteinopathies. Immunohistochemical analysis of FET proteins revealed a striking difference among the various conditions, with pathology in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis with FUS mutations being labelled exclusively for fused in sarcoma, whereas fused in sarcoma-positive inclusions in subtypes of frontotemporal lobar degeneration also consistently immunostained for TATA-binding protein-associated factor 15 and variably for Ewing’s sarcoma. Immunoblot analysis of proteins extracted from post-mortem tissue of frontotemporal lobar degeneration with fused in sarcoma pathology demonstrated a relative shift of all FET proteins towards insoluble protein fractions, while genetic analysis of the TATA-binding protein-associated factor 15 and Ewing’s sarcoma gene did not identify any pathogenic variants. Cell culture experiments replicated the findings of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis with FUS mutations by confirming the absence of TATA-binding protein-associated factor 15 and Ewing’s sarcoma alterations upon expression of mutant fused in sarcoma. In contrast, all endogenous FET proteins were recruited into cytoplasmic stress granules upon general inhibition of Transportin-mediated nuclear import, mimicking the findings in frontotemporal lobar degeneration with fused in sarcoma pathology. These results allow a separation of fused in sarcoma proteinopathies caused by FUS mutations from those without a known genetic cause based on neuropathological features. More importantly, our data imply different pathological processes underlying inclusion formation and cell death between both conditions; the pathogenesis in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis with FUS mutations appears to be more restricted to dysfunction of fused in sarcoma, while a more global and complex dysregulation of all FET proteins is involved in the subtypes of frontotemporal lobar degeneration with fused in sarcoma pathology.
FUS; TAF15; EWS; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; frontotemporal dementia
Mutations in the gene encoding the fused in sarcoma (FUS) protein are responsible for ~3% of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and <1% of sporadic ALS (ALS-FUS). Descriptions of the associated neuropathology are few and largely restricted to individual case reports. To better define the neuropathology associated with FUS mutations, we have undertaken a detailed comparative analysis of six cases of ALS-FUS that include sporadic and familial cases, with both juvenile and adult onset, and with four different FUS mutations. We found significant pathological heterogeneity among our cases, with two distinct patterns that correlated with the disease severity and the specific mutation. Frequent basophilic inclusions and round FUS-immunoreactive (FUS-ir) neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions (NCI) were a consistent feature of our early-onset cases, including two with the p.P525L mutation. In contrast, our late-onset cases, that included two with the p.R521C mutation, had tangle-like NCI and numerous FUS-ir glial cytoplasmic inclusions. Double-labeling experiments demonstrated that many of the glial inclusions were in oligodendrocytes. Comparison with the neuropathology of cases of frontotemporal lobar degeneration with FUS-ir pathology showed significant differences and suggests that FUS mutations are associated with a distinct pathobiology.
fused in sarcoma; FUS; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; ALS; basophilic inclusions
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.
To assess the influence of rs5848 polymorphism in serum progranulin (PGRN) level in a cohort of subjects with Alzheimer and related dementias from a tertiary referral clinic.
Mutations in the GRN gene cause autosomal dominant frontotemporal dementia (FTD) with TDP-43 pathology (FTLD-TDP) through haploinsufficiency. It has recently been shown that homozygous carriers of the T-allele of rs5848 have an elevated risk developing FTD, and this polymorphism may play a role in the pathogenesis of other dementia by modifying progranulin level. We hypothesize that genotype of rs5848 may influence serum PGRN level in AD, FTD, and other dementias.
Blood samples were obtained from patients with cognitive impairment and dementia referred to a tertiary dementia clinic, as well as samples from a cohort of healthy controls. Serum PGRN level was measured using an ELISA assay, and rs5848 genotype was determined by a TaqMan assay.
We found that rs5848 SNP significantly influenced serum PGRN level, with TT genotype having the lowest levels, CC the highest. This relationship is observed in each of the subgroups. We also confirmed that GRN mutation carriers had significantly lower serum PGRN levels than all other groups.
The rs5848 polymorphism significantly influences serum PGRN with TT carriers having a lower level of serum PGRN then CT and CC carriers. This is consistent with the finding that miR-659 binding to the high risk T allele of rs5848 may augment translational inhibition of GRN and alter risk of FTD and possibly other dementias.
Frontotemporal Dementia; Progranulin; PGRN; GRN; rs5848; genetic polymorphism; biomarker
We and others have recently reported an association between amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and single nucleotide polymorphisms on chromosome 9p21 in several populations. Here we show that the associated haplotype is the same in all populations and that several families previously shown to have genetic linkage to this region also share this haplotype. The most parsimonious explanation of these data are that there is a single founder for this form of disease.
Genetics; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Frontotemporal dementia; Finland
The most common inherited form of Fronto-Temporal Lobar Degeneration (FTLD) known stems from Progranulin (GRN) mutation, and exhibits TDP-43 plus ubiquitin aggregates. Despite the causative role of GRN haploinsufficiency in FTLD-TDP, the neurobiology of this secreted glycoprotein is unclear. Here, we examined PGRN binding to the cell surface. PGRN binds to cortical neurons via its C-terminus, and unbiased expression cloning identifies Sortilin (Sort1) as a binding site. Sort1−/− neurons exhibit reduced PGRN binding. In the CNS, Sortilin is expressed by neurons and PGRN is most strongly expressed by activated microglial cells after injury. Sortilin rapidly endocytoses and delivers PGRN to lysosomes. Mice lacking Sortilin have elevations in brain and serum PGRN levels of 2.5- to 5-fold. The 50% PGRN decrease causative in FTLD-TDP cases is mimicked in GRN+/− mice, and is fully normalized by Sort1 ablation. Sortilin-mediated PGRN endocytosis is likely to play a central role in FTLD-TDP pathophysiology.
Mutations in the fused in sarcoma (FUS) gene have recently been found to cause familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FALS).
We screened FUS in a cohort of 200 ALS patients [32 FALS and 168 sporadic ALS (SALS)].
In one FALS proband, we identified a mutation (p.R521C) that was also present in her affected daughter. Their clinical phenotype was remarkably similar and atypical of classic ALS, with symmetric proximal pelvic and pectoral weakness. Distal weakness and upper motor neuron features only developed late. Neuropathological examination demonstrated FUS-immunoreactive neuronal and glial inclusions in the spinal cord and many extramotor regions, but no TDP-43 pathology. We also identified a novel mutation (p.G187S) in one SALS patient. Overall, FUS mutations accounted for 3% of our non-SOD1, non-TARDBP FALS cases and 0.6% of SALS.
This study demonstrates that the phenotype with FUS mutations extends beyond classical ALS. It suggests there are specific clinicogenetic correlations and provides the first detailed neuropathological description.
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; fused in sarcoma; FUS; translocated in liposarcoma; TLS
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is the umbrella term encompassing a heterogeneous group of pathological disorders. With recent discoveries, the FTLDs have been show to classify nicely into three main groups based on the major protein deposited in the brain: FTLD-tau, FTLD-TDP and FTLD-FUS. These pathological groups, and their specific pathologies, underlie a number of well-defined clinical syndromes, including three frontotemporal dementia (FTD) variants [behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD), progressive non-fluent aphasia, and semantic dementia (SD)], progressive supranuclear palsy syndrome (PSPS) and corticobasal syndrome (CBS). Understanding the neuropathological background of the phenotypic variability in FTD, PSPS and CBS requires large clinicopathological studies. We review current knowledge on the relationship between the FTLD pathologies and clinical syndromes, and pool data from a number of large clinicopathological studies that collectively provide data on 544 cases. Strong relationships were identified as follows: FTD with motor neuron disease and FTLD-TDP; SD and FTLD-TDP; PSPS and FTLD-tau; and CBS and FTLD-tau. However, the relationship between some of these clinical diagnoses and specific pathologies is not so clear cut. In addition, the clinical diagnosis of bvFTD does not have a strong relationship to any FTLD subtype or specific pathology and therefore remains a diagnostic challenge. Some evidence suggests improved clinicopathological association of bvFTD by further refining clinical characteristics. Unlike FTLD-tau and FTLD-TDP, FTLD-FUS has been less well characterized, with only 69 cases reported. However, there appears to be some associations between clinical phenotypes and FTLD-FUS pathologies. Clinical diagnosis is therefore promising in predicting molecular pathology.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Progressive supranuclear palsy; Tau; TDP-43; FUS
Studies suggest that frontotemporal lobar degeneration with transactive response DNA-binding protein of 43 kDa (TDP-43) proteinopathy (FTLD-TDP) is heterogeneous with division into four or five subtypes. To determine the degree of heterogeneity and the validity of the subtypes, we studied neuropathological variation within the frontal and temporal lobes of 94 cases of FTLD-TDP using quantitative estimates of density and principal components analysis (PCA). A PCA based on the density of TDP-43 immunoreactive neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions, oligodendroglial inclusions, neuronal intranuclear inclusions, and dystrophic neurites, surviving neurons, enlarged neurons, and vacuolation suggested that cases were not segregated into distinct subtypes. Variation in the density of the vacuoles was the greatest source of variation between cases. A PCA based on TDP-43 pathology alone suggested that cases of FTLD-TDP with progranulin (GRN) mutation segregated to some degree. The pathological phenotype of all four subtypes overlapped but subtypes 1 and 4 were the most distinctive. Cases with coexisting motor neuron disease (MND) or hippocampal sclerosis (HS) also appeared to segregate to some extent. We suggest: (1) pathological variation in FTLD-TDP is best described as a ‘continuum’ without clearly distinct subtypes, (2) vacuolation was the single greatest source of variation and reflects the ‘stage’ of the disease, and (3) within the FTLD-TDP ‘continuum’ cases with GRN mutation and with coexisting MND or HS may have a more distinctive pathology.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TDP-43 proteinopathy; FTLD with ubiquitin-positive inclusions; TAR DNA-binding protein of 43 kDa; Neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions; Neuropathologic heterogeneity; Principal components analysis
Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a clinical syndrome with a heterogeneous molecular basis. The neuropathology associated with most FTD is characterized by abnormal cellular aggregates of either transactive response DNA-binding protein with Mr 43 kDa (TDP-43) or tau protein. However, we recently described a subgroup of FTD patients, representing around 10%, with an unusual clinical phenotype and pathology characterized by frontotemporal lobar degeneration with neuronal inclusions composed of an unidentified ubiquitinated protein (atypical FTLD-U; aFTLD-U). All cases were sporadic and had early-onset FTD with severe progressive behavioural and personality changes in the absence of aphasia or significant motor features. Mutations in the fused in sarcoma (FUS) gene have recently been identified as a cause of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, with these cases reported to have abnormal cellular accumulations of FUS protein. Because of the recognized clinical, genetic and pathological overlap between FTD and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, we investigated whether FUS might also be the pathological protein in aFTLD-U. In all our aFTLD-U cases (n = 15), FUS immunohistochemistry labelled all the neuronal inclusions and also demonstrated previously unrecognized glial pathology. Immunoblot analysis of protein extracted from post-mortem aFTLD-U brain tissue demonstrated increased levels of insoluble FUS. No mutations in the FUS gene were identified in any of our patients. These findings suggest that FUS is the pathological protein in a significant subgroup of sporadic FTD and reinforce the concept that FTD and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis are closely related conditions.
frontotemporal lobar degeneration; frontotemporal dementia; FUS; fused in sarcoma; TLS; translocated in liposarcoma
Through an international consortium, we have collected 37 tau- and TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43)-negative frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) cases, and present here the first comprehensive analysis of these cases in terms of neuropathology, genetics, demographics and clinical data. 92% (34/37) had fused in sarcoma (FUS) protein pathology, indicating that FTLD-FUS is an important FTLD subtype. This FTLD-FUS collection specifically focussed on aFTLD-U cases, one of three recently defined subtypes of FTLD-FUS. The aFTLD-U subtype of FTLD-FUS is characterised clinically by behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) and has a particularly young age of onset with a mean of 41 years. Further, this subtype had a high prevalence of psychotic symptoms (36% of cases) and low prevalence of motor symptoms (3% of cases). We did not find FUS mutations in any aFTLD-U case. To date, the only subtype of cases reported to have ubiquitin-positive but tau-, TDP-43- and FUS-negative pathology, termed FTLD-UPS, is the result of charged multivesicular body protein 2B gene (CHMP2B) mutation. We identified three FTLD-UPS cases, which are negative for CHMP2B mutation, suggesting that the full complement of FTLD pathologies is yet to be elucidated.
FTLD; FUS; FTLD-UPS; Frontotemporal; FTD