Here we review progress by the Penn Biomarker Core in the Alzheimer's disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI) towards developing a pathological cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and plasma biomarker signature for mild Alzheimer's disease (AD) as well as a biomarker profile that predicts conversion of mild cognitive impairment (MCI) and/or normal control (NC) subjects to AD. The Penn Biomarker Core also collaborated with other ADNI Cores to integrate data across ADNI to temporally order changes in clinical measures, imaging data and chemical biomarkers that serve as mileposts and predictors of the conversion of NC to MCI as well as MCI to AD, and the progression of AD.
Initial CSF studies by the ADNI Biomarker Core revealed a pathological CSF biomarker signature of AD defined by the combination of Aβ1-42 and total tau (T-tau) that effectively delineates mild AD in the large multisite prospective clinical investigation conducted in ADNI. This signature appears to predict conversion from MCI to AD. Data fusion efforts across ADNI Cores generated a model for the temporal ordering of AD biomarkers which suggests that Aβ amyloid biomarkers become abnormal first, followed by changes in neurodegenerative biomarkers (CSF tau, FDG-PET, MRI) and the onset of clinical symptoms. The timing of these changes varies in individual patients due to genetic and environmental factors that increase or decrease an individual's resilience in response to progressive accumulations of AD pathologies. Further studies in ADNI will refine this model and render the biomarkers studied in ADNI more applicable to routine diagnosis and to clinical trials of disease modifying therapies.
Alzheimer's disease; cerebrospinal fluid; plasma; biomarkers; mild cognitive impairment
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is most commonly associated with TAR-DNA binding protein (TDP-43) or tau pathology at autopsy, but there are no in vivo biomarkers reliably discriminating between sporadic cases. As disease-modifying treatments emerge, it is critical to accurately identify underlying pathology in living patients so that they can be entered into appropriate etiology-directed clinical trials. Patients with tau inclusions (FTLD-TAU) appear to have relatively greater white matter (WM) disease at autopsy than those patients with TDP-43 (FTLD-TDP). In this paper, we investigate the ability of white matter (WM) imaging to help discriminate between FTLD-TAU and FTLD-TDP during life using diffusion tensor imaging (DTI).
Patients with autopsy-confirmed disease or a genetic mutation consistent with FTLD-TDP or FTLD-TAU underwent multimodal T1 volumetric MRI and diffusion weighted imaging scans. We quantified cortical thickness in GM and fractional anisotropy (FA) in WM. We performed Eigenanatomy, a statistically robust dimensionality reduction algorithm, and used leave-one-out cross-validation to predict underlying pathology. Neuropathological assessment of GM and WM disease burden was performed in the autopsy-cases to confirm our findings of an ante-mortem GM and WM dissociation in the neuroimaging cohort.
ROC curve analyses evaluated classification accuracy in individual patients and revealed 96% sensitivity and 100% specificity for WM analyses. FTLD-TAU had significantly more WM degeneration and inclusion severity at autopsy relative to FTLD-TDP.
These neuroimaging and neuropathological investigations provide converging evidence for greater WM burden associated with FTLD-TAU, and emphasize the role of WM neuroimaging for in vivo discrimination between FTLD-TAU and FTLD-TDP.
Algorithms designed to identify canonical yeast prions predict that ~250 human proteins, including several RNA-binding proteins associated with neurodegenerative disease, harbor a distinctive prion-like domain (PrLD) enriched in uncharged polar amino acids and glycine. PrLDs in RNA-binding proteins are essential for the assembly of ribonucleoprotein granules. However, the interplay between human PrLD function and disease is not understood. Here, we define pathogenic mutations in PrLDs of hnRNPA2/B1 and hnRNPA1 in families with inherited degeneration affecting muscle, brain, motor neuron and bone, and a case of familial ALS. Wild-type hnRNPA2 and hnRNPA1 display an intrinsic tendency to assemble into self-seeding fibrils, which is exacerbated by the disease mutations. Indeed, the pathogenic mutations strengthen a ‘steric zipper’ motif in the PrLD, which accelerates formation of self-seeding fibrils that cross-seed polymerization of wild-type hnRNP. Importantly, the disease mutations promote excess incorporation of hnRNPA2 and hnRNPA1 into stress granules and drive the formation of cytoplasmic inclusions in animal models that recapitulate the human pathology. Thus, dysregulated polymerization caused by a potent mutant ‘steric zipper’ motif in a PrLD can initiate degenerative disease. Related proteins with PrLDs must be considered candidates for initiating and perhaps propagating proteinopathies of muscle, brain, motor neuron and bone.
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is characterized phenotypically by progressive weakness and neuropathologically by loss of motor neurons. Phenotypically, there is marked heterogeneity. Typical ALS has mixed upper motor neuron (UMN) and lower motor neuron (LMN) involvement. Primary lateral sclerosis has predominant UMN involvement. Progressive muscular atrophy has predominant LMN involvement. Bulbar and limb ALS have predominant regional involvement. Frontotemporal dementia has significant cognitive and behavioral involvement. These phenotypes can be so distinctive that they would seem to have differing biology. However, they cannot be distinguished, at least neuropathologically or genetically. In sporadic ALS (SALS), they are mostly characterized by ubiquitinated cytoplasmic inclusions of TDP-43. In familial ALS (FALS), where phenotypes are indistinguishable from SALS and similarly heterogeneous, each mutated gene has its own genetic and molecular signature. Overall, since the same phenotypes can have multiple causes including different gene mutations, there must be multiple molecular mechanisms causing ALS – and ALS is a syndrome. Since, however, multiple phenotypes can be caused by one single gene mutation, a single molecular mechanism can cause heterogeneity. What the mechanisms are remain unknown, but active propagation of the pathology neuroanatomically seems to be a principal component. Leading candidate mechanisms include RNA processing, cell-cell interactions between neurons and non-neuronal neighbors, focal seeding from a misfolded protein that has prion-like propagation, and fatal errors introduced during neurodevelopment of the motor system. If fundamental mechanisms could be identified and understood, ALS therapy could rationally target progression and stop the disease – a goal that seems increasingly achievable.
ALS; PLS; PMA; motor neuron disease; FTD
Multiple neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by the abnormal accumulation of FUS protein including various subtypes of frontotemporal lobar degeneration with FUS inclusions (FTLD-FUS). These subtypes include atypical frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin-positive inclusions (aFTLD-U), basophilic inclusion body disease (BIBD) and neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease (NIFID). Despite considerable overlap, certain pathologic features including differences in inclusion morphology, the subcellular localization of inclusions, and the relative paucity of subcortical FUS pathology in aFTLD-U indicate that these three entities represent related but distinct diseases. In this study, we report the clinical and pathologic features of three cases of aFTLD-U and two cases of late-onset BIBD with an emphasis on the anatomic distribution of FUS inclusions.
The aFTLD-U cases demonstrated FUS inclusions in cerebral cortex, subcortical grey matter and brainstem with a predilection for anterior forebrain and rostral brainstem. In contrast, the distribution of FUS pathology in late-onset BIBD cases demonstrated a predilection for pyramidal and extrapyramidal motor regions with relative sparing of cerebral cortex and limbic regions.
The topography of FUS pathology in these cases demonstrate the diversity of sporadic FUS inclusion body diseases and raises the possibility that late-onset motor neuron disease with BIBD neuropathology may exhibit unique clinical and pathologic features.
Frontotemporal dementia; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Motor neuron disease; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
Cerebrospinal fluid and positron emission tomography biomarkers accurately predict an underlying Alzheimer's disease (AD) pathology; however, they represent either invasive or expensive diagnostic tools. Therefore, a blood-based biomarker like plasma amyloid beta (Aβ) that could correlate with the underlying AD pathology and serve as a prognostic biomarker or an AD screening strategy is urgently needed as a cost-effective and non-invasive diagnostic tool. In this paper we review the demographic, biologic, genetic and technical aspects that affect plasma Aβ levels. Findings of cross-sectional and longitudinal studies of plasma Aβ, including autosomal dominant AD cases, sporadic AD cases, Down syndrome cases and population studies, are also discussed. Finally, we review the association between cerebrovascular disease and Aβ plasma levels and the responses observed in clinical trials. Based on our review of the current literature on plasma Aβ, we conclude that further clinical research and assay development are needed before measures of plasma Aβ can be interpreted so they can be applied as trait, risk or state biomarkers for AD.
The interassay variability and inconsistency of plasma β-amyloid (Aβ) measurements among centers are major factors precluding the interpretation of results and a substantial obstacle in the meta-analysis across studies of this biomarker. The goal of this investigation was to address these problems by improving the performance of the bioanalytical method.
We used the Luminex immunoassay platform with a multiplex microsphere-based reagent kit from Innogenetics. A robotic pipetting system was used to perform crucial steps of the procedure. The performance of this method was evaluated using two kit control samples and two quality control plasma samples from volunteer donors, and by retesting previously assayed patient samples in each run. This setup was applied to process 2454 patient plasma samples from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative study biofluid repository. We have additionally evaluated the correlations between our results and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) biomarker data using mixed-effects modeling.
The average precision values of the kit controls were 8.3% for Aβ1-40 and 4.0% for Aβ1-42, whereas the values for the plasma quality controls were 6.4% for Aβ1-40 and 4.8% for Aβ1-42. From the test–retest evaluation, the average precision was 7.2% for Aβ1-40 and 4.5% for Aβ1-42. The range of final plasma results for Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative patients was 13 to 372 pg/mL (median: 164 pg/mL) for Aβ1-40 and 3.5 to 103 pg/mL (median: 39.3 pg/mL) for Aβ1-42. We found that sample collection parameters (blood volume and time to freeze) have a small, but significant, influence on the result. No significant difference was found between plasma Aβ levels for patients with Alzheimer's disease and healthy control subjects. We have determined multiple significant correlations of plasma Aβ1-42 levels with CSF biomarkers. The relatively strongest, although modest, correlation was found between plasma Aβ1-42 levels and CSF p-tau181/Aβ1-42 ratio in patients with mild cognitive impairment. Plasma Aβ1-40 correlations with CSF biomarkers were weaker and diminished completely when we used longitudinal data. No significant correlations were found for the plasma Aβ1-42/Aβ1-40 ratio.
The precision of our robotized method represents a substantial improvement over results reported in the literature. Multiple significant correlations between plasma and CSF biomarkers were found. Although these correlations are not strong enough to support the use of plasma Aβ measurement as a diagnostic screening test, plasma Aβ1-42 levels are well suited for use as a pharmacodynamic marker.
β-amyloid; Longitudinal; Plasma; xMAP immunoassay; ADNI study subjects; Robotic pipetting
Weight changes are common in aging and Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and post-mortem findings suggested a relation between lower body mass index (BMI) and increased AD brain pathology. In the current multicenter study, we tested whether lower BMI is associated with higher core AD brain pathology as assessed by cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) based biological markers of AD in 751 living subjects: 308 patients with AD, 296 subjects with amnestic mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and 147 elderly healthy controls (HC). Based upon a priori cutoff values on CSF concentration of total tau and beta-amyloid (Aβ1-42), subjects were binarized into a group with abnormal CSF biomarker signature (CSF+) and those without (CSF−). Results showed that BMI was significantly lower in the CSF+ when compared to the CSF− group (F = 27.7, df = 746, p < 0.001). There was no interaction between CSF signature and diagnosis or ApoE genotype. In conclusion, lower BMI is indicative of AD pathology as assessed with CSF-based biomarkers in demented and non-demented elderly subjects.
Alzheimer’s disease; body mass index; cerebrospinal fluid; tau protein; Aβ1-42
Neurons within the brains of those with AD (Alzheimer’s disease) and related neurodegenerative disorders, collectively termed ‘tauopathies’, contain fibrillar inclusions composed of hyperphosphorylated tau protein. Tau is normally enriched in axons, where it binds and stabilizes MTs (microtubules). Tau hyperphosphorylation and aggregation probably result in reduced MT binding that could affect axonal transport and neuronal function. A possible therapeutic strategy to overcome a loss of tau function in tauopathies is administration of MT-stabilizing agents, such as those used in the treatment of cancer. However, these drugs elicit severe side effects, and most existing MT-stabilizing compounds have poor BBB (blood–brain barrier) permeability, which renders them unsuitable for tauopathy treatment. We identified EpoD (epothilone D) as a brain-penetrant MT-stabilizing agent with preferred pharmacokinetic and pharmacodynamic properties. EpoD was evaluated for its ability to compensate for tau loss-of-function in an established Tg (transgenic) mouse model, using both preventative and interventional dosing paradigms. EpoD at doses much lower than previously used in human cancer patients caused improved axonal MT density and decreased axonal dystrophy in the tau Tg mice, leading to an alleviation of cognitive deficits. Moreover, EpoD reduced the extent of tau pathology in aged tau Tg mice. Importantly, no adverse side effects were observed in the EpoD-treated mice. These results suggest that EpoD might be a viable drug candidate for the treatment of AD and related tauopathies.
Alzheimer’s disease; axon; microtubule; tauopathy; therapeutic agent
To utilize values of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) tau and ß-amyloid obtained from two different analytical immunoassays to differentiate Alzheimer’s disease (AD) from frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD).
CSF values of total tau (t-tau) and ß-amyloid (Aß1-42) obtained using the INNOTEST® ELISA were transformed using a linear regression model to equivalent values obtained using the INNO-BIA AlzBio3™ (xMAP Luminex) assay. Cutoff values obtained from the xMAP assay were developed in a series of autopsy-confirmed cases and cross-validated in another series of autopsy-confirmed samples using transformed ELISA values to assess sensitivity and specificity for differentiating AD from FTLD.
Tertiary memory disorders clinics and neuropathological and biomarker core centers.
75 samples from patients with CSF data obtained from both assays were used for transformation of ELISA values. 40 autopsy-confirmed cases (30 AD, 10 FTLD) were used to establish diagnostic cutoff values, and then cross-validated in a second sample set of 21 autopsy-confirmed cases (11 AD, 10 FTLD) with transformed ELISA values.
Main outcome measure
Diagnostic accuracy using transformed biomarker values.
Data obtained from both assays were highly correlated. The t-tau:Aß1-42 ratio had the highest correlation between measures (r=0.928, p<0.001) and high reliability of transformation (ICC=0.89). A cutoff of 0.34 for the t-tau:Aß1-42 ratio had 90% and 100% sensitivity and 96.7% and 91% specificity to differentiate FTLD cases in the validation and cross-validation samples, respectively.
Values from two analytical platforms can be transformed into equivalent units, which can distinguish AD from FTLD more accurately than the clinical diagnosis.
It is now established that pathological transactive response DNA-binding protein with a Mr of 43 kD (TDP-43) on sodium dodecyl sulfate-polyacrylamide gel electrophoresis is the major disease protein in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) with ubiquitin-positive inclusions (now known as FTLD-TDP). In fact, the discovery of pathological TDP-43 solidified the idea that these disorders are multi-system diseases and this led to the concept of a TDP-43 proteinopathy as a spectrum of disorders comprised of different clinical and pathological entities extending from ALS to ALS with cognitive impairment/dementia and FTLD-TDP without or with motor neuron disease (FTLD-MND). These align along a broad disease continuum sharing similar pathogenetic mechanisms linked to pathological TDP-43. We here review salient findings in the development of a concept of TDP-43 proteinopathy as a novel group of neurodegenerative diseases similar in concept to α-synucleinopathies and tauopathies.
amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; multi-system disease; proteinopathy; transactive response DNA-binding protein with a Mr of 43 kD (TDP-43)
Growing evidence of cell-to-cell transmission of neurodegenerative disease (ND)–associated proteins (NDAPs) (ie, tau, Aβ, and α-synuclein) suggests possible similarities in the infectious prion protein (PrPsc) in spongiform encephalopathies. There are limited data on the potential human-to-human transmission of NDAPs associated with Alzheimer disease (AD) and other non-PrPsc ND.
To examine evidence for human-to-human transmission of AD, Parkinson disease (PD), and related NDAPs in cadaveric human growth hormone (c-hGH) recipients.
We conducted a detailed immunohistochemical analysis of pathological NDAPs other than PrPsc in human pituitary glands. We also searched for ND in recipients of pituitary-derived c-hGH by reviewing the National Hormone and Pituitary Program (NHPP) cohort database and medical literature.
University-based academic center and agencies of the US Department of Health and Human Services.
Thirty-four routine autopsy subjects (10 non-ND controls and 24 patients with ND) and a US cohort of c-hGH recipients in the NHPP.
Main Outcome Measures
Detectable NDAPs in human pituitary sections and death certificate reports of non-PrPsc ND in the NHPP database.
We found mild amounts of pathological tau, Aβ, and α-synuclein deposits in the adeno/neurohypophysis of patients with ND and control patients. No cases of AD or PD were identified, and 3 deaths attributed to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) were found among US NHPP c-hGH recipients, including 2 of the 796 decedents in the originally confirmed NHPP c-hGH cohort database.
Conclusions and Relevance
Despite the likely frequent exposure of c-hGH recipients to NDAPs, and their markedly elevated risk of PrPsc-related disease, this population of NHPP c-hGH recipients does not appear to be at increased risk of AD or PD. We discovered 3 ALS cases of unclear significance among US c-hGH recipients despite the absence of pathological deposits of ALS-associated proteins (TDP-43, FUS, and ubiquilin) in human pituitary glands. In this unique in vivo model of human-to-human transmission, we found no evidence to support concerns that NDAPs underlying AD and PD transmit disease in humans despite evidence of their cell-to-cell transmission in model systems of these disorders. Further monitoring is required to confirm these conclusions.
There is epidemiological evidence that cardiovascular risk factors (CVRF) also are risk factors for Alzheimer’s disease, but there is limited information on this from neuro-pathological studies, and even less from in vivo studies. Therefore, we examined the relationship between CVRF and amyloid-β (Aβ) brain burden measured by Pittsburgh Compound B-positron emission tomography (PiB-PET) studies in the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative.
Ninety-nine subjects from the Alzheimer’s Disease Neuroimaging Initiative cohort who had a PiB-PET study measure, apolipoprotein E genotyping data, and information available on CVRF (body mass index [BMI], systolic blood pressure, diastolic blood pressure [DBP1 and cholesterol and fasting glucose test results) were included. Eighty-one subjects also had plasma cortisol C-reactive protein, and superoxide dismutase 1 measurements. Stepwise regression models were used to assess the relation between the CVRF and the composite PiB-PET score.
The first model included the following as baseline variables: age, clinical diagnosis, number of apolipoprotein ε4 alleles, BMI (P = .023), and DBP (P = .012). BMI showed an inverse relation with PiB-PET score, and DBP had a positive relation with PiB-PET score. In the second adjusted model, cortisol plasma levels were also associated with PiB-PET score (P = .004). Systolic blood pressure, cholesterol, or impaired fasting glucose were not found to be associated with PiB-PET values.
In this cross-sectional study, we found an association between Aβ brain burden measured in vivo and DBP and cortisol, indicating a possible link between these CVRF and Aβ burden measured by PiB-PET. These findings highlight the utility of biomarkers to explore potential pathways linking diverse Alzheimer’s disease risk factors.
Alzheimer disease; Vascular risk factors; PiB; Amyloid-β; Cortisol; Blood pressure; Body mass index
The best-studied biomarkers of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) are the pathologically linked CSF proteins β-amyloid 42 (Aβ1–42), total tau (t-tau), and tau phosphorylated on amino acid 181 (p-tau181). Many laboratories measure these proteins using Enzyme-Linked ImmunoSorbent Assay (ELISA). Multiplex xMAP Luminex is a semi-automated assay platform with reduced intra-sample variance, which could facilitate its use in CLIA-approved clinical laboratories. CSF concentrations of these three biomarkers reported using xMAP technology differ from those measured by the most commonly used ELISA, confounding attempts to compare results. To develop a model for converting between xMAP and ELISA levels of the three biomarkers, we analyzed CSF samples from 140 subjects (59 AD, 30 controls, 34 with mild cognitive impairment (MCI), and 17 with Parkinson Disease, including 1 with dementia). Log-transformation of ELISA and xMAP levels made the variance constant in all three biomarkers and improved the linear regression: t-tau concentrations were highly correlated (r=0.94); p-tau181 concentrations by ELISA can be better predicted using both the t-tau and p-tau181 xMAP values (r=0.96) as compared to p-tau181 concentrations alone (r=0.82); correlation of Aβ1–42 concentrations was relatively weaker but still high (r=0.77). Among all six protein/assay combinations, xMAP Aβ1–42 had the best accuracy for diagnostic classification (88%) between AD and control subjects. In conclusion, our study demonstrates that multiplex xMAP is an appropriate assay platform providing results that can be correlated with research-based ELISA values, facilitating the incorporation of this diagnostic biomarker into routine clinical practice.
Enzyme-Linked Immunosorbent Assay (ELISA); Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF); Alzheimer’s Disease
Pathologic TAR-DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) is a disease protein in frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin-positive inclusions (FTLD-U) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. We studied the presence, frequency, and distribution of TDP-43 pathology by immunohistochemistry and biochemistry in a series of clinically well-characterized tauopathy patient brains, including 182 Alzheimer disease (AD), 39 corticobasal degeneration, 77 progressive supranuclear palsy, and 12 Pick disease cases and investigated the clinical impact of concomitant TDP-43 pathology in these cases. TAR-DNA-binding protein 43 pathology was found in 25.8% of AD cases. It was restricted to the dentate gyrus and entorhinal cortex in approximately 75% of cases; approximately 25% showed more widespread TDP-43 pathology in frontal and temporal cortices, resembling the FTLD-U subtype associated with progranulin mutations. TAR-DNA-binding protein 43 pathology in AD was associated with significantly longer disease duration, but there was no association with the clinical presentation (148 cases diagnosed as AD and 34 cases diagnosed as frontotemporal lobar degeneration). Progressive supranuclear palsy and Pick disease cases showed no TDP-43 inclusions and no biochemical alterations of TDP-43. There was, however, a unique, predominantly glial TDP-43 pathology with staining of astrocytic plaque-like structures and coiled bodies in 15.4% of corticobasal degeneration cases; this was associated with biochemical TDP-43 changes similar to those in FTLD-U. These findings provide further insight into the burden and clinical significance of TDP-43 pathology in disorders other than FTLD-U and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Alzheimer disease; Corticobasal degeneration; Frontotemporal dementia; Tauopathy; TDP-43
Parkinson’s disease is characterized by abundant α-Synuclein (α-Syn) neuronal inclusions known as Lewy-bodies and Lewy-neurites, and the massive loss of midbrain dopamine neurons. However, a cause-and-effect relationship between Lewy inclusion formation and neurodegeneration remains unclear. Here we found that in wildtype non-transgenic mice a single intrastriatal inoculation of synthetic α-Syn fibrils led to the cell-to-cell transmission of pathologic α-Syn and Parkinson’s-like Lewy pathology in anatomically interconnected regions. Lewy pathology accumulation resulted in progressive loss of dopamine neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta, but not in the adjacent ventral tegmental area, and was accompanied by reduced dopamine levels culminating in motor deficits. This recapitulation of a neurodegenerative cascade thus establishes a mechanistic link between transmission of pathologic α-Syn and the cardinal features of Parkinson’s disease.
The microtubule-binding protein, tau, is the major component of neurofibrillary inclusions characteristic of Alzheimer's disease and related neurodegenerative tauopathies. When tau fibrillizes, it undergoes abnormal post-translational modifications resulting in decreased solubility and altered microtubule-stabilizing properties. Recently, we reported that the abnormal acetylation of tau at lysine residue 280 is a novel, pathological post-translational modification. Here, we performed detailed immunohistochemistry to further examine acetylated-tau expression in Alzheimer's disease and other major tauopathies. Immunohistochemistry using a polyclonal antibody specific for acetylated-tau at lysine 280 was conducted on 30 post-mortem central nervous system regions from patients with Alzheimer's disease (10 patients), corticobasal degeneration (5 patients), and progressive supranuclear palsy (5 patients). Acetylated-tau pathology was compared with the sequential emergence of other tau modifications in the Alzheimer's disease hippocampus using monoclonal antibodies to multiple well-characterized tau epitopes. All cases studied showed significant acetylated-tau pathology in a distribution pattern similar to hyperphosphorylated-tau. Acetylated-tau pathology was largely in intracellular, thioflavin-S-positive tau inclusions in Alzheimer's disease, and also thioflavin-S-negative pathology in corticobasal degeneration and progressive supranuclear palsy. Acetylated-tau was present throughout all stages of Alzheimer's disease pathology, but was more prominently associated with pathological tau epitopes in moderate to severe-stage cases. These temporal and morphological immunohistochemical features suggest acetylation of tau at this epitope is preceded by early modifications, including phosphorylation, and followed by later truncation events and cell death in Alzheimer's disease. Acetylation of tau at lysine 280 is a pathological modification that may contribute to tau-mediated neurodegeneration by both augmenting losses of normal tau properties (reduced solubility and microtubule assembly) as well as toxic gains of function (increased tau fibrillization). Thus, inhibiting tau acetylation could be a disease-modifying target for drug discovery target in tauopathies.
Alzheimer's disease; tauopathy; acetylation; post-translational modification; tau
The frequency and clinical and pathological characteristics associated with the Gly206Ala presenilin 1 (PSEN1) mutation in Puerto Rican and non-Puerto Rican Hispanics were evaluated at the University of Pennsylvania’s Alzheimer’s Disease Center. DNAs from all cohort subjects were genotyped for the Gly206Ala PSEN1 mutation. Carriers and non-carriers with neurodegenerative disease dementias were compared for demographic, clinical, psychometric, and biomarker variables. Nineteen (12.6%) of 151 unrelated subjects with dementia were discovered to carry the PSEN1 Gly 206Ala mutation. Microsatellite marker genotyping determined a common ancestral haplotype for all carriers. Carriers were all of Puerto Rican heritage with significantly younger age of onset, but otherwise were clinically and neuropsychologically comparable to those of non-carriers with AD. Three subjects had extensive topographic and biochemical biomarker assessments that were also typical of non-carriers with AD. Neuropathological examination in one subject revealed severe, widespread plaque and tangle pathology without other meaningful disease lesions. The PSEN1 Gly206Ala mutation is notably frequent in unrelated Puerto Rican immigrants with dementia in Philadelphia. Considered together with the increased prevalence and mortality of AD reported in Puerto Rico, these high rates may reflect hereditary risk concentrated in the island which warrants further study.
Age of onset; dementia; haplotype; presenilin
Tauopathies, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration with tau pathologies, are neurodegenerative diseases characterized by neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) comprised of filamentous tau protein. Although emerging evidence suggests tau pathology may be transmitted, we demonstrate here that synthetic tau fibrils are sufficient to transmit tau inclusions in a mouse model. Specifically, intracerebral inoculation of young PS19 mice overexpressing mutant human tau (P301S) with synthetic preformed fibrils (pffs) assembled from recombinant full length tau or truncated tau containing four microtubule binding repeats resulted in rapid induction of NFT-like inclusions which propagated from injected sites to connected brain regions in a time-dependent manner. Interestingly, injection of tau pffs into either hippocampus or striatum together with overlaying cortex gave rise to distinct pattern of spreading. Moreover, unlike tau pathology that spontaneously develops in old PS19 mice, the pff-induced tau inclusions more closely resembled AD NFTs because they were Thioflavin-S positive, acetylated and more resistant to proteinase K digestion. Taken together, our study demonstrates that synthetic tau pffs alone are capable of inducing authentic NFT-like tau aggregates and initiating prion-like spreading of tau pathology in a tauopathy mouse model.
Biomarkers; Neurodegenerative disease diagnosis; Cerebrospinal fluid; Plasma; Neuroimaging; Disease progression; Clinical testing; Alzheimer’s disease; Magnetic resonance imaging; Neuronal network dysfunction
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TDP-43 inclusions (FTLD-TDP) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease with no available treatments. Mutations in the progranulin gene (GRN) causing impaired production or secretion of progranulin are a common Mendelian cause of FTLD-TDP; additionally, common variants at chromosome 7p21 in the uncharacterized gene TMEM106B were recently linked by genome-wide association to FTLD-TDP with and without GRN mutations. Here we show that TMEM106B is neuronally expressed in postmortem human brain tissue, and that expression levels are increased in FTLD-TDP brain. Furthermore, using an unbiased, microarray-based screen of over 800 microRNAs, we identify microRNA-132 as the top microRNA differentiating FTLD-TDP and control brains, with <50% normal expression levels of three members of the microRNA-132 cluster (microRNA-132, microRNA-132*, and microRNA-212) in disease. Computational analyses, corroborated empirically, demonstrate that the top mRNA target of both microRNA-132 and microRNA-212 is TMEM106B; both microRNAs repress TMEM106B expression through shared microRNA-132/212 binding sites in the TMEM106B 3’UTR. Increasing TMEM106B expression to model disease results in enlargement and poor acidification of endo-lysosomes, as well as impairment of mannose-6-phosphate-receptor trafficking. Finally, endogenous neuronal TMEM106B co-localizes with progranulin in late endo-lysosomes, and TMEM106B over-expression increases intracellular levels of progranulin. Thus, TMEM106B is an FTLD-TDP risk gene, with microRNA-132/212 depression as an event which can lead to aberrant over-expression of TMEM106B, which in turn alters progranulin pathways. Evidence for this pathogenic cascade includes the striking convergence of two independent, genomic-scale screens on a microRNA:mRNA regulatory pair. Our findings open novel directions for elucidating miRNA-based therapies in FTLD-TDP.
Frontotemporal dementia; microRNA-132; microRNA-212; progranulin; TDP-43; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; TMEM106B
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive, adult-onset neurodegenerative disease characterized by degeneration of motor neurons, resulting in paralysis and death. A pathological hallmark of the degenerating motor neurons in most ALS patients is the presence of cytoplasmic inclusions containing the protein TDP-43. The morphology and type of TDP-43 pathological inclusions is variable and can range from large round Lewy body-like inclusions to filamentous skein-like inclusions. The clinical significance of this variable pathology is unclear. Intermediate-length polyglutamine (polyQ) expansions in ataxin 2 were recently identified as a genetic risk factor for ALS. Here we have analyzed TDP-43 pathology in a series of ALS cases with or without ataxin 2 intermediate-length polyQ expansions. The motor neurons of ALS cases harboring ataxin 2 polyQ expansions (n=6) contained primarily skein-like or filamentous TDP-43 pathology and only rarely, if ever, contained large round inclusions, whereas the ALS cases without ataxin 2 polyQ expansions (n=13) contained abundant large round and skein-like TDP-43 pathology. The paucity of large round TDP-43 inclusions in ALS cases with ataxin 2 polyQ expansions suggests a distinct pathological subtype of ALS and highlights the possibility for distinct pathogenic mechanisms.
TDP-43; ataxin 2; polyglutamine; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
The current consensus criteria for the neuropathologic diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease (AD), known as the National Institute on Aging/Reagan Institute of the Alzheimer Association Consensus Recommendations for the Postmortem Diagnosis of AD or NIA-Reagan Criteria , were published in 1997 (hereafter referred to as “1997 Criteria”). Knowledge of AD and the tools used for clinical investigation of cognitive impairment and dementia have advanced substantially since then and have prompted this update on the neuropathologic assessment of AD.
We present a practical guide for the implementation of recently revised National Institute on Aging-Alzheimer’s Association guidelines for the neuropathologic assessment of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Major revisions from previous consensus criteria are: (i) recognition that AD neuropathologic changes may occur in the apparent absence of cognitive impairment, (ii) an “ABC” score for AD neuropathologic change that incorporates histopathologic assessments of amyloid β deposits (A), staging of neurofibrillary tangles (B), and scoring of neuritic plaques (C), and (iii) more detailed approaches for assessing commonly co-morbid conditions such as Lewy body disease, vascular brain injury, hippocampal sclerosis, and TAR DNA binding protein (TDP)-43 immunoreactive inclusions. Recommendations also are made for the minimum sampling of brain, preferred staining methods with acceptable alternatives, reporting of results, and clinico-pathologic correlations.
Accurate ante mortem diagnosis in frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is crucial to the development and implementation of etiology-based therapies. Several neurodegenerative disease-associated proteins, including the major protein constituents of inclusions in Alzheimer's disease (AD) associated with amyloid-beta (Aβ1−42) plaque and tau neurofibrillary tangle pathology, can be measured in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) for diagnostic applications. Comparative studies using autopsy-confirmed samples suggest that CSF total-tau (t-tau) and Aβ1−42 levels can accurately distinguish FTLD from AD, with a high t-tau to Aβ1−42 ratio diagnostic of AD; however, there is also an urgent need for FTLD-specific biomarkers. These analytes will require validation in large autopsy-confirmed cohorts and face challenges of standardization of within- and between-laboratory sources of error. In addition, CSF biomarkers with prognostic utility and longitudinal study of CSF biomarker levels over the course of disease are also needed. Current goals in the field include identification of analytes that are easily and reliably measured and can be used alone or in a multi-modal approach to provide an accurate prediction of underlying neuropathology for use in clinical trials of disease modifying treatments in FTLD. To achieve these goals it will be of the utmost importance to view neurodegenerative disease, including FTLD, as a clinicopathological entity, rather than exclusively a clinical syndrome.
cerebrospinal fluid; biomarker; tau; Aβ1−42; frontotemporal dementia; primary progressive aphasia; Alzheimer's disease