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1.  Novel clinical associations with specific C9ORF72 transcripts in patients with repeat expansions in C9ORF72 
Acta neuropathologica  2015;130(6):863-876.
The loss of chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9ORF72) expression, associated with C9ORF72 repeat expansions, has not been examined systematically. Three C9ORF72 transcript variants have been described thus far; the GGGGCC repeat is located between two non-coding exons (exon 1a and exon 1b) in the promoter region of transcript variant 2 (NM_018325.4) or in the first intron of variant 1 (NM_145005.6) and variant 3 (NM_001256054.2). We studied C9ORF72 expression in expansion carriers (n = 56) for whom cerebellum and/or frontal cortex was available. Using quantitative real-time PCR and digital molecular barcoding techniques, we assessed total C9ORF72 transcripts, variant 1, variant 2, variant 3, and intron containing transcripts [upstream of the expansion (intron 1a) and downstream of the expansion (intron 1b)]; the latter were correlated with levels of poly(GP) and poly(GA) proteins aberrantly translated from the expansion as measured by immunoassay (n = 50). We detected a decrease in expansion carriers as compared to controls for total C9ORF72 transcripts, variant 1, and variant 2: the strongest association was observed for variant 2 (quantitative real-time PCR cerebellum: median 43 %, p = 1.26e-06, and frontal cortex: median 58 %, p = 1.11e-05; digital molecular barcoding cerebellum: median 31 %, p = 5.23e-10, and frontal cortex: median 53 %, p = 5.07e-10). Importantly, we revealed that variant 1 levels greater than the 25th percentile conferred a survival advantage [digital molecular barcoding cerebellum: hazard ratio (HR) 0.31, p = 0.003, and frontal cortex: HR 0.23, p = 0.0001]. When focusing on intron containing transcripts, analysis of the frontal cortex revealed an increase of potentially truncated transcripts in expansion carriers as compared to controls [digital molecular barcoding frontal cortex (intron 1a): median 272 %, p = 0.003], with the highest levels in patients pathologically diagnosed with frontotemporal lobar degeneration. In the cerebellum, our analysis suggested that transcripts were less likely to be truncated and, excitingly, we discovered that intron containing transcripts were associated with poly(GP) levels [digital molecular barcoding cerebellum (intron 1a): r = 0.33, p = 0.02, and (intron 1b): r = 0.49, p = 0.0004] and poly(GA) levels [digital molecular barcoding cerebellum (intron 1a): r = 0.34, p = 0.02, and (intron 1b): r = 0.38, p = 0.007]. In summary, we report decreased expression of specific C9ORF72 transcripts and provide support for the presence of truncated transcripts as well as pre-mRNAs that may serve as templates for RAN translation. We further show that higher C9ORF72 levels may have beneficial effects, which warrants caution in the development of new therapeutic approaches.
PMCID: PMC4655160  PMID: 26437865
C9ORF72; Frontotemporal dementia; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Motor neuron disease; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Disease modifier
2.  Whole-genome sequencing reveals important role for TBK1 and OPTN mutations in frontotemporal lobar degeneration without motor neuron disease 
Acta neuropathologica  2015;130(1):77-92.
Frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TAR DNA binding protein 43 inclusions (FTLD-TDP) is the most common pathology associated with frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Repeat expansions in chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9ORF72) and mutations in progranulin (GRN) are the major known genetic causes of FTLD-TDP; however, the genetic etiology in the majority of FTLD-TDP remains unexplained.
In this study, we performed whole-genome sequencing in 104 pathologically confirmed FTLD-TDP patients from the Mayo Clinic brain bank negative for C9ORF72 and GRN mutations and report on the contribution of rare single nucleotide and copy-number variants in 21 known neurodegenerative disease genes. Interestingly, we identified 5 patients (4.8%) with variants in optineurin (OPTN) and TANK-binding kinase 1 (TBK1) that are predicted to be highly pathogenic, including two double mutants. Case A was a compound heterozygote for mutations in OPTN, carrying the p.Q235* nonsense and p.A481V missense mutation in trans, while case B carried a deletion of OPTN exons 13–15 (p.Gly538Glufs*27) and a loss-of-function mutation (p.Arg117*) in TBK1. Cases C–E carried heterozygous missense mutations in TBK1, including the p.Glu696Lys mutation which was previously reported in two amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients and is located in the OPTN binding domain. Quantitative mRNA expression and protein analysis in cerebellar tissue showed a striking reduction of OPTN and/or TBK1 expression in 4 out of 5 patients supporting pathogenicity in these specific patients and suggesting a loss-of-function disease mechanism. Importantly, neuropathologic examination showed FTLD-TDP type A in the absence of motor neuron disease in 3 pathogenic mutation carriers.
In conclusion, we highlight TBK1 as an important cause of pure FTLD-TDP, identify the first OPTN mutations in FTLD-TDP, and suggest a potential oligogenic basis for at least a subset of FTLD-TDP patients. Our data further adds to the growing body of evidence linking ALS and FTD and suggests a key role for the OPTN/TBK1 pathway in these diseases.
PMCID: PMC4470809  PMID: 25943890
Whole-genome sequencing; FTLD-TDP; OPTN; TBK1; oligogenic mechanism
3.  An autoradiographic evaluation of AV-1451 Tau PET in dementia 
It is essential to determine the specificity of AV-1451 PET for tau in brain imaging by using pathological comparisons. We performed autoradiography in autopsy-confirmed Alzheimer disease and other neurodegenerative disorders to evaluate the specificity of AV-1451 binding for tau aggregates.
Tissue samples were selected that had a variety of dementia-related neuropathologies including Alzheimer disease, primary age-related tauopathy, tangle predominant dementia, non-Alzheimer disease tauopathies, frontotemporal dementia, parkinsonism, Lewy body disease and multiple system atrophy (n = 38). Brain tissue sections were stained for tau, TAR DNA-binding protein-43, and α-synuclein and compared to AV-1451 autoradiography on adjacent sections.
AV-1451 preferentially localized to neurofibrillary tangles, with less binding to areas enriched in neuritic pathology and less mature tau. The strength of AV-1451 binding with respect to tau isoforms in various neurodegenerative disorders was: 3R + 4R tau (e.g., AD) > 3R tau (e.g., Pick disease) or 4R tau. Only minimal binding of AV-1451 to TAR DNA-binding protein-43 positive regions was detected. No binding of AV-1451 to α-synuclein was detected. “Off-target” binding was seen in vessels, iron-associated regions, substantia nigra, calcifications in the choroid plexus, and leptomeningeal melanin.
Reduced AV-1451 binding in neuritic pathology compared to neurofibrillary tangles suggests that the maturity of tau pathology may affect AV-1451 binding and suggests complexity in AV-1451 binding. Poor association of AV-1451 with tauopathies that have preferential accumulation of either 4R tau or 3R tau suggests limited clinical utility in detecting these pathologies. In contrast, for disorders associated with 3R + 4R tau, such as Alzheimer disease, AV-1451 binds tau avidly but does not completely reflect the early stage tau progression suggested by Braak neurofibrillary tangle staging. AV-1451 binding to TAR DNA-binding protein-43 or TAR DNA-binding protein-43 positive regions can be weakly positive. Clinical use of AV-1451 will require a familiarity with distinct types of “off-target” binding.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1186/s40478-016-0315-6) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4906968  PMID: 27296779
AV-1451; Tau; Alzheimer’s disease; TDP-43; Pick Disease; Corticobasal degeneration; Progressive supranuclear palsy; Tauopathy; Pick’s disease; Atypical Alzheimer’s disease; Frontotemporal dementia
4.  Brain atrophy over time in genetic and sporadic frontotemporal dementia: a study on 198 serial MRI 
To determine the utility of longitudinal MRI measurements as potential biomarkers in the main genetic variants of frontotemporal dementia (FTD), including microtubule-associated protein tau (MAPT) and progranulin (GRN) mutations, and C9ORF72 repeat expansions, as well as sporadic FTD.
In this longitudinal study, 58 subjects were identified that had at least two MRI and MAPT mutations (n=21), GRN mutations (n=11), C9ORF72 repeat expansions (n=11) or sporadic FTD (n=15). A total of 198 serial MRI were analyzed. Rates of whole brain atrophy were calculated using the boundary-shift integral. Regional rates of atrophy were calculated using tensor-based morphometry. Sample size estimates were calculated.
Progressive brain atrophy was observed in all groups, with fastest rates of whole brain atrophy in GRN, followed by sporadic FTD, C9ORF72 and MAPT. All variants showed greatest rates in frontal and temporal lobes, with parietal lobes also strikingly affected in GRN. Regional rates of atrophy across all lobes were greater in GRN compared to the other groups. C9ORF72 showed greater rates of atrophy in left cerebellum and right occipital lobe than MAPT, and sporadic FTD showed greater rates in anterior cingulate than C9ORF72 and MAPT. Sample size estimates were lowest using temporal lobe rates in GRN, ventricular rates in MAPT and C9ORF72, and whole brain rates in sporadic FTD.
These data support the utility of using rates of atrophy as outcome measures in future drug trials in FTD and show that different imaging biomarkers may offer advantages in the different variants of FTD.
PMCID: PMC4390434  PMID: 25683866
MRI; longitudinal; frontotemporal dementia; genetics; tensor-based morphometry
5.  Ataxin-2 as potential disease modifier in C9ORF72 expansion carriers 
Neurobiology of aging  2014;35(10):2421.e13-2421.e17.
Repeat expansions in chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9ORF72) are an important cause of both motor neuron disease (MND) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Currently, little is known about factors that could account for the phenotypic heterogeneity detected in C9ORF72 expansion carriers. In this study, we investigated four genes that could represent genetic modifiers: ataxin-2 (ATXN2), non-imprinted in Prader-Willi/Angelman syndrome 1 (NIPA1), survival motor neuron 1 (SMN1) and survival motor neuron 2 (SMN2). Assessment of these genes, in a unique cohort of 331 C9ORF72 expansion carriers and 376 controls, revealed that intermediate repeat lengths in ATXN2 possibly act as disease modifier in C9ORF72 expansion carriers; no evidence was provided for a potential role of NIPA1, SMN1 or SMN2. The effects of intermediate ATXN2 repeats were most profound in probands with MND or FTD/MND (2.1% versus 0% in controls, P=0.013), whereas the frequency in probands with FTD was identical to controls. Though intermediate ATXN2 repeats were already known to be associated with MND risk, previous reports did not focus on individuals with clear pathogenic mutations, such as repeat expansions in C9ORF72. Based on our present findings, we postulate that intermediate ATXN2 repeat lengths may render C9ORF72 expansion carriers more susceptible to the development of MND; further studies are needed, however, to validate our findings.
PMCID: PMC4105839  PMID: 24866401
C9ORF72; ataxin-2; ATXN2; motor neuron disease; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; frontotemporal dementia; disease modifier
6.  Cerebellar c9RAN proteins associate with clinical and neuropathological characteristics of C9ORF72 repeat expansion carriers 
Acta Neuropathologica  2015;130(4):559-573.
Clinical and neuropathological characteristics associated with G4C2 repeat expansions in chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9ORF72), the most common genetic cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia, are highly variable. To gain insight on the molecular basis for the heterogeneity among C9ORF72 mutation carriers, we evaluated associations between features of disease and levels of two abundantly expressed “c9RAN proteins” produced by repeat-associated non-ATG (RAN) translation of the expanded repeat. For these studies, we took a departure from traditional immunohistochemical approaches and instead employed immunoassays to quantitatively measure poly(GP) and poly(GA) levels in cerebellum, frontal cortex, motor cortex, and/or hippocampus from 55 C9ORF72 mutation carriers [12 patients with ALS, 24 with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) and 19 with FTLD with motor neuron disease (FTLD-MND)]. We additionally investigated associations between levels of poly(GP) or poly(GA) and cognitive impairment in 15 C9ORF72 ALS patients for whom neuropsychological data were available. Among the neuroanatomical regions investigated, poly(GP) levels were highest in the cerebellum. In this same region, associations between poly(GP) and both neuropathological and clinical features were detected. Specifically, cerebellar poly(GP) levels were significantly lower in patients with ALS compared to patients with FTLD or FTLD-MND. Furthermore, cerebellar poly(GP) associated with cognitive score in our cohort of 15 patients. In the cerebellum, poly(GA) levels similarly trended lower in the ALS subgroup compared to FTLD or FTLD-MND subgroups, but no association between cerebellar poly(GA) and cognitive score was detected. Both cerebellar poly(GP) and poly(GA) associated with C9ORF72 variant 3 mRNA expression, but not variant 1 expression, repeat size, disease onset, or survival after onset. Overall, these data indicate that cerebellar abnormalities, as evidenced by poly(GP) accumulation, associate with neuropathological and clinical phenotypes, in particular cognitive impairment, of C9ORF72 mutation carriers.
Electronic supplementary material
The online version of this article (doi:10.1007/s00401-015-1474-4) contains supplementary material, which is available to authorized users.
PMCID: PMC4575385  PMID: 26350237
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; C9ORF72 repeat expansion; c9RAN proteins; Cognition; Dipeptide repeat proteins; Frontotemporal dementia; Frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Neuropathological diagnosis; Repeat-associated non-ATG translation
7.  Genome-wide association study of corticobasal degeneration identifies risk variants shared with progressive supranuclear palsy 
Nature Communications  2015;6:7247.
Corticobasal degeneration (CBD) is a neurodegenerative disorder affecting movement and cognition, definitively diagnosed only at autopsy. Here, we conduct a genome-wide association study (GWAS) in CBD cases (n=152) and 3,311 controls, and 67 CBD cases and 439 controls in a replication stage. Associations with meta-analysis were 17q21 at MAPT (P=1.42 × 10−12), 8p12 at lnc-KIF13B-1, a long non-coding RNA (rs643472; P=3.41 × 10−8), and 2p22 at SOS1 (rs963731; P=1.76 × 10−7). Testing for association of CBD with top progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) GWAS single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) identified associations at MOBP (3p22; rs1768208; P=2.07 × 10−7) and MAPT H1c (17q21; rs242557; P=7.91 × 10−6). We previously reported SNP/transcript level associations with rs8070723/MAPT, rs242557/MAPT, and rs1768208/MOBP and herein identified association with rs963731/SOS1. We identify new CBD susceptibility loci and show that CBD and PSP share a genetic risk factor other than MAPT at 3p22 MOBP (myelin-associated oligodendrocyte basic protein).
Corticobasal degeneration is a rare neurodegenerative disorder that can only be definitively diagnosed by autopsy. Here, Kouri et al. conduct a genome-wide-association study and identify two genetic susceptibility loci 17q21 (MAPT) and 3p12 (MOBP), and a novel susceptibility locus at 8p12.
PMCID: PMC4469997  PMID: 26077951
8.  TDP-43 in Alzheimer’s disease is not associated with clinical FTLD or Parkinsonism 
Journal of neurology  2014;261(7):1344-1348.
Widespread deposition of TAR DNA-binding protein of 43 kDa (TDP-43), a major protein inclusion commonly found in frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) can also be seen in a subset of cases with Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Some of these AD cases have TDP-43 immunoreactivity in basal ganglia (BG) and substantia nigra (SN), regions that when affected can be associated with parkinsonian signs or symptoms, or even features suggestive of frontotemporal dementia. Here, we examined the presence of clinical features of FTLD, parkinsonian signs and symptoms, and BG atrophy on MRI, in 51 pathologically confirmed AD cases (Braak neurofibrillary tangle stage IV–VI) with widespread TDP-43 deposition, with and without BG and SN involvement. All 51 cases had presented with progressive cognitive impairment with prominent memory deficits. None of the patients demonstrated early behavioral disinhibition, apathy, loss of empathy, stereotyped behavior, hyperorality, and/or executive deficits. Furthermore, TDP-43 deposition in BG or SN had no significant association with tremor (p = 0.80), rigidity (p = 0.19), bradykinesia (p = 0.19), and gait/postural instability (p = 0.39). Volumes of the BG structures were not associated with TDP-43 deposition in the BG. The present study demonstrates that TDP-43 deposition in pathologically confirmed AD cases is not associated with a clinical manifestation suggestive of FTLD, or parkinsonian features.
PMCID: PMC4101047  PMID: 24760339
TDP-43; Alzheimer’s disease; Frontotemporal dementia; Parkinsonism
9.  TDP-43 is a key player in the clinical features associated with Alzheimer’s disease 
Acta neuropathologica  2014;127(6):811-824.
The aim of this study was to determine whether the TAR DNA-binding protein of 43kDa (TDP-43) independently has any effect on the clinical and neuroimaging features typically ascribed to Alzheimer’s disease (AD) pathology, and whether TDP-43 pathology could help shed light on the phenomenon of resilient cognition in AD. Three-hundred forty-two subjects pathologically diagnosed with AD were screened for the presence, burden and distribution of TDP-43. All had been classified as cognitively impaired or normal, prior to death. Atlas-based parcellation and voxel-based morphometry were used to assess regional atrophy on MRI. Regression models controlling for age at death, apolipoprotein ε4 and other AD-related pathologies were utilized to explore associations between TDP-43 and cognition or brain atrophy, stratified by Braak stage. Additionally, we determined whether the effects of TDP-43 were mediated by hippocampal sclerosis. One-hundred ninety-five (57%) cases were TDP-positive. After accounting for age, apolipoprotein ε4, and other pathologies, TDP-43 had a strong effect on cognition, memory loss, and medial temporal atrophy in AD. These effects were not mediated by hippocampal sclerosis. TDP-positive subjects were 10× more likely to be cognitively impaired at death compared to TDP-negative subjects. Greater cognitive impairment and medial temporal atrophy were associated with greater TDP-43 burden and more extensive TDP-43 distribution. TDP-43 is an important factor in the manifestation of the clinico-imaging features of AD. TDP-43 also appears to be able to overpower what has been termed resilient brain aging. TDP-43 therefore should be considered a potential therapeutic target for the treatment of AD.
PMCID: PMC4172544  PMID: 24659241
TDP-43; Alzheimer disease; resilience; APOE ε4; Braak stage; MRI
10.  TMEM106B protects C9ORF72 expansion carriers against frontotemporal dementia 
Acta neuropathologica  2014;127(3):397-406.
Variants in transmembrane protein 106 B (TMEM106B) modify the disease penetrance of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) in carriers of progranulin (GRN) mutations. We investigated whether TMEM106B is also a genetic modifier of disease in carriers of chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9ORF72) expansions. We assessed the genotype of 325 C9ORF72 expansion carriers (cohort 1), 586 FTD patients lacking C9ORF72 expansions (with or without motor neuron disease [MND]; cohort 2), and a total of 1,302 controls for TMEM106B variants (rs3173615 and rs1990622) using MassArray iPLEX and Taqman genotyping assays. For our primary analysis, we focused on functional variant rs3173615, and employed a recessive genotypic model. In cohort 1, patients with C9ORF72 expansions showed a significantly reduced frequency of carriers homozygous for the minor allele as compared to controls (11.9% versus 19.1%, odds ratio (OR): 0.57, p=0.014; same direction as carriers of GRN mutations). The strongest evidence was provided by FTD patients (OR: 0.33, p=0.009) followed by FTD/MND patients (OR: 0.38, p=0.017), whereas no significant difference was observed in MND patients (OR: 0.85, p=0.55). In cohort 2, the frequency of carriers homozygous for the minor allele was not significantly reduced in patients as compared to controls (OR: 0.77, p=0.079); however, a significant reduction was observed when focusing on those patients with frontotemporal lobar degeneration and TAR DNA-binding protein 43 inclusions (FTLD-TDP; OR: 0.26, p<0.001).
Our study identifies TMEM106B as the first genetic factor modifying disease presentation in C9ORF72 expansion carriers. Homozygosity for the minor allele protects carriers from developing FTD, but not from developing MND; similar effects are seen in FTLD-TDP patients with yet unknown genetic causes. These new findings show that the protective effects of TMEM106B are not confined to carriers of GRN mutations, and might be relevant for prognostic testing, and as a promising therapeutic target for the entire spectrum of FTLD-TDP.
PMCID: PMC3944829  PMID: 24385136
C9ORF72; TMEM106B; frontotemporal dementia; motor neuron disease; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; disease modifier
11.  Midbrain atrophy is not a biomarker of PSP pathology 
Midbrain atrophy is a characteristic feature of progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), although it is unclear whether it is associated with the PSP syndrome (PSPS) or PSP pathology. We aimed to determine whether midbrain atrophy is a useful biomarker of PSP pathology, or whether it is only associated with typical PSPS.
We identified all autopsy-confirmed subjects with the PSP clinical phenotype (i.e. PSPS) or PSP pathology and a volumetric MRI. Of 24 subjects with PSP pathology, 11 had a clinical diagnosis of PSPS (PSP-PSPS), and 13 had a non-PSPS clinical diagnosis (PSP-other). Three subjects had PSPS and corticobasal degeneration pathology (CBD-PSPS). Healthy control and disease control groups (i.e. a group without PSPS or PSP pathology) and a group with CBD pathology and corticobasal syndrome (CBD-CBS) were selected. Midbrain area was measured in all subjects.
Midbrain area was reduced in each group with clinical PSPS (with and without PSP pathology). The group with PSP pathology and non-PSPS clinical syndromes did not show reduced midbrain area. Midbrain area was smaller in the subjects with PSPS compared to those without PSPS (p<0.0001), with an area under the receiver-operator-curve of 0.99 (0.88,0.99). A midbrain area cut-point of 92 mm2 provided optimum sensitivity (93%) and specificity (89%) for differentiation.
Midbrain atrophy is associated with the clinical presentation of PSPS, but not with the pathological diagnosis of PSP in the absence of the PSPS clinical syndrome. This finding has important implications for the utility of midbrain measurements as diagnostic biomarkers for PSP pathology.
PMCID: PMC3773014  PMID: 23746093
Progressive supranuclear palsy; tau; neuropathology; MRI; midbrain
12.  Profilin-1 mutations are rare in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal dementia 
Mutations in profilin-1 (PFN1) have recently been identified in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Because of the considerable overlap between ALS and the common subtype of frontotemporal dementia, which is characterized by transactive response DNA-binding protein 43 pathology (FTLD-TDP), we tested cohorts of ALS and FTLD-TDP patients for PFN1 mutations.
DNA was obtained from 342 ALS patients and 141 FTLD-TDP patients at our outpatient clinic and brain bank for neurodegenerative diseases at the Mayo Clinic Florida, Jacksonville, USA. We screened these patients for mutations in coding regions of PFN1 by Sanger sequencing. Subsequently, we used TaqMan genotyping assays to investigate the identified variant in 1167 control subjects.
One variant, p.E117G, was detected in 1 ALS patient, 1 FTLD-TDP patient, and 2 control subjects. The mutation frequency of patients versus control subjects was not significantly different (p-value = 0.36). Moreover, PFN1 and TDP-43 staining of autopsy material did not differ between patients with or without this variant.
The p.E117G variant appears to represent a benign polymorphism. PFN1 mutations, in general, are rare in ALS and FTLD-TDP patients.
PMCID: PMC3923463  PMID: 23634771
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; frontotemporal dementia; profilin-1; TDP-43; genetics
13.  Mutations in protein N-arginine methyltransferases are not the cause of FTLD-FUS 
Neurobiology of aging  2013;34(9):2235.e11-2235.e13.
The nuclear protein fused in sarcoma (FUS) is found in cytoplasmic inclusions in a subset of patients with the neurodegenerative disorder frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD-FUS). FUS contains a methylated arginine-glycine-glycine domain which is required for transport into the nucleus. Recent findings have shown that this domain is hypomethylated in patients with FTLD-FUS. To determine if the cause of hypomethylation is the result of mutations in protein N-arginine methyltransferases (PRMTs), we selected 3 candidate genes (PRMT1, PRMT3 and PRMT8) and performed complete sequencing analysis and real-time PCR mRNA expression analysis in 20 FTLD-FUS cases. No mutations or statistically significant changes in expression were observed in our patient samples, suggesting that defects in PRMTs are not the cause of FTLD-FUS.
PMCID: PMC3683824  PMID: 23635657
14.  The Alien Limb Phenomenon 
Journal of neurology  2013;260(7):1880-1888.
Alien limb phenomenon refers to involuntary motor activity of a limb in conjunction with the feeling of estrangement from that limb. Alien limb serves as a diagnostic feature of corticobasal syndrome.
Our objective was to determine the differential diagnoses of alien limb and to determine the features in a large group of patients with the alien limb with different underlying etiologies.
We searched the Mayo Clinic Medical Records Linkage system to identify patients with the diagnosis of alien limb seen between January 1, 1996, and July 11, 2011.
One hundred fifty patients with alien limb were identified. Twenty two were followed in the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center. Etiologies of alien limb included corticobasal syndrome (n=108), stroke (n=14), Creutzfeldt Jacob disease (n=9), Hereditary diffuse leukoencephalopathy with spheroids (n=5), tumor (n=4), progressive multifocal leukoencephalopathy(n=2), demyelinating disease (n=2), progressive dementia not otherwise specified (n=2), posterior reversible encephalopathy syndrome (n=1), corpus callosotomy (n=1), intracerebral hemorrhage (n=1) and thalamic dementia (n=1). Ten of fourteen cerebrovascular cases were right hemisphere in origin. All cases involved the parietal lobe. Of the 44 patients with corticobasal syndrome from the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center cohort, 22 had alien limb, and 73% had the alien limb affecting the left extremities. Left sided corticobasal syndrome was significantly associated with the presence of alien limb (p=0.004).
These findings support the notion that the alien limb phenomenon is partially related to damage underlying the parietal cortex, especially the right parietal, disconnecting it from other cortical areas.
PMCID: PMC3914666  PMID: 23572346
Alien limb; corticobasal syndrome
15.  Frontal asymmetry in behavioral variant FTD: clinicoimaging & pathogenetic correlates 
Neurobiology of aging  2012;34(2):636-639.
We aimed to assess associations between clinical, imaging, pathological and genetic features and frontal lobe asymmetry in behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD). Volumes of the left and right dorsolateral, medial and orbital frontal lobes were measured in 80 bvFTD subjects and subjects were classified into three groups according to the degree of asymmetry (asymmetric left, asymmetric right, symmetric) using cluster analysis. The majority of subjects were symmetric (65%), with 20% asymmetric left and 15% asymmetric right. There were no clinical differences across groups, although there was a trend for greater behavioral dyscontrol in right asymmetric compared to left asymmetric subjects. More widespread atrophy involving the parietal lobe was observed in the symmetric group. Genetic features differed across groups with symmetric frontal lobes associated with C9ORF72 and tau mutations, while asymmetric frontal lobes were associated with progranulin mutations. These findings therefore suggest that neuroanatomical patterns of frontal lobe atrophy in bvFTD are influenced by specific gene mutations.
PMCID: PMC3404265  PMID: 22502999
Frontotemporal dementia; frontal lobes; MRI; asymmetry; microtubule associated protein tau; progranulin; C9ORF72; pathology
16.  Corticospinal tract degeneration associated with TDP-43 type C pathology and semantic dementia 
Brain  2013;136(2):455-470.
Four subtypes of frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TDP-43 immunoreactive inclusions have been described (types A–D). Of these four subtypes, motor neuron disease is more commonly associated with type B pathology, but has also been reported with type A pathology. We have noted, however, the unusual occurrence of cases of type C pathology having corticospinal tract degeneration. We aimed to assess the severity of corticospinal tract degeneration in a large cohort of cases with type C (n = 31). Pathological analysis included semi-quantitation of myelin loss of fibres of the corticospinal tract and associated macrophage burden, as well as axonal loss, at the level of the medullary pyramids. We also assessed for motor cortex degeneration and fibre loss of the medial lemniscus/olivocerebellar tract. All cases were subdivided into three groups based on the degree of corticospinal tract degeneration: (i) no corticospinal tract degeneration; (ii) equivocal corticospinal tract degeneration; and (iii) moderate to very severe corticospinal tract degeneration. Clinical, genetic, pathological and imaging comparisons were performed across groups. Eight cases had no corticospinal tract degeneration, and 14 cases had equivocal to mild corticospinal tract degeneration. Nine cases, however, had moderate to very severe corticospinal tract degeneration with myelin and axonal loss. In these nine cases, there was degeneration of the motor cortex without lower motor neuron degeneration or involvement of other brainstem tracts. These cases most commonly presented as semantic dementia, and they had longer disease duration (mean: 15.3 years) compared with the other two groups (10.8 and 9.9 years; P = 0.03). After adjusting for disease duration, severity of corticospinal tract degeneration remained significantly different across groups. Only one case, without corticospinal tract degeneration, was found to have a hexanucleotide repeat expansion in the C9ORF72 gene. All three groups were associated with anterior temporal lobe atrophy on MRI; however, the cases with moderate to severe corticospinal tract degeneration showed right-sided temporal lobe asymmetry and greater involvement of the right temporal lobe and superior motor cortices than the other groups. In contrast, the cases with no or equivocal corticospinal tract degeneration were more likely to show left-sided temporal lobe asymmetry. For comparison, the corticospinal tract was assessed in 86 type A and B cases, and only two cases showed evidence of corticospinal tract degeneration without lower motor neuron degeneration. These findings confirm that there exists a unique association between frontotemporal lobar degeneration with type C pathology and corticospinal tract degeneration, with this entity showing a predilection to involve the right temporal lobe.
PMCID: PMC3572926  PMID: 23358603
TDP-43 type C; corticospinal tract; MRI; semantic dementia; right temporal lobe
17.  Limb Immobilization and Corticobasal Syndrome 
Parkinsonism & related disorders  2012;18(10):1097-1099.
Recently, we evaluated two patients with corticobasal syndrome (CBS) who reported symptom onset after limb immobilization. Our objective was to investigate the association between trauma, immobilization and CBS.
The charts of forty-four consecutive CBS patients seen in the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer Disease Research Center were reviewed with attention to trauma and limb immobilization.
10 CBS patients (23%) had immobilization or trauma on the most affected limb preceding the onset or acceleration of symptoms. The median age at onset was 61. Six patients manifested their first symptoms after immobilization from surgery or fracture with one after leg trauma. Four patients had pre-existing symptoms of limb dysfunction but significantly worsened after immobilization or surgery.
23 percent of patients had immobilization or trauma of the affected limb. This might have implications for management of CBS, for avoiding injury, limiting immobilization and increasing movement in the affected limb.
PMCID: PMC3461122  PMID: 22721974
Corticobasal syndrome; plasticity; immobilization
18.  Neuroimaging correlates of pathologically-defined atypical Alzheimer’s disease 
Lancet neurology  2012;11(10):868-877.
Atypical variants of Alzheimer’s disease (AD) have been pathologically defined based on the distribution of neurofibrillary tangles; hippocampal sparing (HpSp) AD shows minimal involvement of the hippocampus and limbic predominant (LP) AD shows neurofibrillary tangles restricted to the medial temporal lobe. We aimed to determine whether MRI patterns of atrophy differ across HpSp AD, LP AD and typical AD, and whether imaging could be a useful predictor of pathological subtype during life.
In this case-control study, we identified 177 patients who had been prospectively followed in the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center, were demented during life, had AD pathology at autopsy (Braak stage ≥ IV, intermediate-high probability AD) and an antemortem MRI. Cases were assigned to one of three pathological subtypes (HpSp n=19, typical n=125, or LP AD n=33) based on neurofibrillary tangle counts and their ratio in association cortices to hippocampus, without reference to neuronal loss. Voxel-based morphometry and atlas-based parcellation were used to compare patterns of grey matter loss across groups, and to controls.
The severity of medial temporal and cortical grey matter atrophy differed across subtypes. The most severe medial temporal atrophy was observed in LP AD, followed by typical AD, and then HpSp AD. Conversely, the most severe cortical atrophy was observed in HpSp AD, followed by typical AD, and then LP AD. A ratio of hippocampal-to-cortical volume provided the best discrimination across all three AD subtypes. The majority of typical AD (98/125;78%) and LP AD (31/33;94%) subjects, but only 8/19 (42%) of the HpSp AD subjects, presented with a dominant amnestic syndrome.
Patterns of atrophy on MRI differ across the pathological subtypes of AD, suggesting that MR regional volumetrics reliably track the distribution of neurofibrillary tangle pathology and can predict pathological subtype during life.
US National Institutes of Health (National Institute on Aging)
PMCID: PMC3490201  PMID: 22951070
19.  Steroid-responsive Encephalopathy Subsequently Associated with Alzheimer Disease Pathology: A Case Series 
Neurocase  2011;18(1):1-12.
Steroid-responsive encephalopathies can considered vasculitic or nonvasculitic. Clinicopathological studies of nonvasculitic steroid-responsive encephalopathy are unusual, but can explain the range of diagnoses consistent with a steroid responsive presentation in life.
To extend the range of clinical features and pathological findings consistent with steroid-responsive encephalopathy.
Design, Methods, and Patients
A clinicopathological case series of four patients (ages 54–71 years, 2 women) with steroid-responsive encephalopathy followed at this institution until the time of death.
Clinical features were suggestive of Creutzfeld-Jakob disease, dementia with Lewy Bodies, and parkinsonism, but pathological examination revealed only Alzheimer’s Disease-related findings without evidence of Lewy bodies or prion disease in all cases. All patients demonstrated marked, sustained improvement following steroid treatment, based on clinical, magnetic resonance imaging, and/or electroencephalogram studiesAlzheimer’s Disease was not diagnosed in life due to a lack of hippocampal atrophy on brain imaging and a dramatic symptomatic response to steroids.
Steroid-responsive encephalopathy is the clinical presentation of some patients with Alzheimer’s Disease related pathology at autopsy, and can be consistent with the clinical diagnoses of parkisonism, dementia with Lewy Bodies, or Creutzfeld-Jakob Disease in life.
PMCID: PMC3184345  PMID: 21714739
Alzheimer’s Disease; corticosteroids; dementia; encephalopathy; Hashimoto’s encephalopathy; neuropathology
20.  Neuropathological features of corticobasal degeneration presenting as corticobasal syndrome or Richardson syndrome 
Brain  2011;134(11):3264-3275.
Patients with corticobasal degeneration can present with several different clinical syndromes, making ante-mortem diagnosis a challenge. Corticobasal syndrome is the clinical phenotype originally described for corticobasal degeneration, characterized by asymmetric rigidity and apraxia, cortical sensory deficits, dystonia and myoclonus. Some patients do not develop these features, but instead have clinical features consistent with the Richardson syndrome presentation of progressive supranuclear palsy, characterized by postural instability, early unexplained falls, vertical supranuclear gaze palsy, symmetric motor disability and dysphagia. The aim of this study was to identify differences in corticobasal degeneration presenting with corticobasal syndrome (n = 11) or Richardson syndrome (n = 15) with respect to demographic, clinical and neuropathological features. Corticobasal degeneration cases were also compared with patients with pathologically proven progressive supranuclear palsy with Richardson syndrome (n = 15). Cases with corticobasal degeneration, regardless of presentation, shared histopathological and tau biochemical characteristics, but they had differing densities of tau pathology in neuroanatomical regions that correlated with their clinical presentation. In particular, those with corticobasal syndrome had greater tau pathology in the primary motor and somatosensory cortices and putamen, while those with Richardson syndrome had greater tau pathology in limbic and hindbrain structures. Compared with progressive supranuclear palsy, patients with corticobasal degeneration and Richardson syndrome had less neuronal loss in the subthalamic nucleus, but more severe neuronal loss in the medial substantia nigra and greater atrophy of the anterior corpus callosum. Clinically, they had more cognitive impairment and frontal behavioural dysfunction. The results suggest that Richardson syndrome can be a clinicopathological presentation of corticobasal degeneration. Atrophy of anterior corpus callosum may be a potential neuroimaging marker to differentiate corticobasal degeneration from progressive supranuclear palsy in patients with Richardson syndrome.
PMCID: PMC3212714  PMID: 21933807
pathology; immunocytochemistry; progressive supranuclear palsy; tau protein; corticobasal degeneration
21.  Expanded GGGGCC hexanucleotide repeat in non-coding region of C9ORF72 causes chromosome 9p-linked frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis 
Neuron  2011;72(2):245-256.
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.
PMCID: PMC3202986  PMID: 21944778
22.  Temporoparietal atrophy: a marker of AD pathology independent of clinical diagnosis 
Neurobiology of aging  2009;32(9):1531-1541.
Alzheimer's disease (AD) can present with non-amnestic clinical syndromes. We investigated whether there is an imaging signature of AD pathology in these atypical subjects. We identified 14 subjects that had pathological AD, a non-amnestic presentation (i.e. atypical AD), and MRI. These subjects were matched to 14 with clinical and pathological AD (i.e. typical AD), 14 with the same non-amnestic presentations with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) pathology, and 20 controls. Voxel-based morphometry and region-of-interest (ROI) analysis were used to assess patterns of grey matter loss. Loss was observed in the temporoparietal cortex in both typical and atypical AD, and showed significantly greater loss than FTLD. However, the medial temporal lobes were more severely affected in typical AD and FTLD compared to atypical AD. A ratio of hippocampal and temporoparietal volumes provided excellent discrimination of atypical AD from FTLD subjects. Temporoparietal atrophy may therefore provide a useful marker of the presence of AD pathology even in subjects with atypical clinical presentations, especially in the context of relative sparing of the hippocampus.
PMCID: PMC2888989  PMID: 19914744
Alzheimer's disease; pathology; voxel-based morphometry; atypical presentation; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; temporoparietal cortex; hippocampus
23.  Sensitivity of revised diagnostic criteria for the behavioural variant of frontotemporal dementia 
Brain  2011;134(9):2456-2477.
Based on the recent literature and collective experience, an international consortium developed revised guidelines for the diagnosis of behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia. The validation process retrospectively reviewed clinical records and compared the sensitivity of proposed and earlier criteria in a multi-site sample of patients with pathologically verified frontotemporal lobar degeneration. According to the revised criteria, ‘possible’ behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia requires three of six clinically discriminating features (disinhibition, apathy/inertia, loss of sympathy/empathy, perseverative/compulsive behaviours, hyperorality and dysexecutive neuropsychological profile). ‘Probable’ behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia adds functional disability and characteristic neuroimaging, while behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia ‘with definite frontotemporal lobar degeneration’ requires histopathological confirmation or a pathogenic mutation. Sixteen brain banks contributed cases meeting histopathological criteria for frontotemporal lobar degeneration and a clinical diagnosis of behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia, Alzheimer’s disease, dementia with Lewy bodies or vascular dementia at presentation. Cases with predominant primary progressive aphasia or extra-pyramidal syndromes were excluded. In these autopsy-confirmed cases, an experienced neurologist or psychiatrist ascertained clinical features necessary for making a diagnosis according to previous and proposed criteria at presentation. Of 137 cases where features were available for both proposed and previously established criteria, 118 (86%) met ‘possible’ criteria, and 104 (76%) met criteria for ‘probable’ behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia. In contrast, 72 cases (53%) met previously established criteria for the syndrome (P < 0.001 for comparison with ‘possible’ and ‘probable’ criteria). Patients who failed to meet revised criteria were significantly older and most had atypical presentations with marked memory impairment. In conclusion, the revised criteria for behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia improve diagnostic accuracy compared with previously established criteria in a sample with known frontotemporal lobar degeneration. Greater sensitivity of the proposed criteria may reflect the optimized diagnostic features, less restrictive exclusion features and a flexible structure that accommodates different initial clinical presentations. Future studies will be needed to establish the reliability and specificity of these revised diagnostic guidelines.
PMCID: PMC3170532  PMID: 21810890
behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia; diagnostic criteria; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; FTD; pathology
24.  Temporal Lobar Predominance of TDP-43 Neuronal Cytoplasmic Inclusions in Alzheimer Disease 
Acta Neuropathologica  2008;116(2):215-220.
TAR DNA binding protein-43 (TDP-43) immunoreactive neuronal inclusions are detected in 20–30% of Alzheimer disease (AD) brains, but the distribution of this pathology has not been rigorously studied. In this report we describe region-specific distribution and density of TDP-43 positive neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions (NCIs) in clinically demented individuals with high probability AD pathology, all with Braak neurofibrillary tangle stages of V or VI. Sections of hippocampus, amygdala, as well as temporal, frontal and parietal neocortex were analyzed with TDP-43 immunohistochemistry, and the density of NCIs was assessed using a semiquantitative scoring method. Of the 29 cases, 6 had TDP-43 positive NCIs in the amygdala only, and 7 had TDP-43 inclusions restricted to amygdala and hippocampus. In 16 cases TDP-43 immunoreactivity was more widespread, affecting temporal, frontal or parietal neocortex. These findings indicate that medial temporal lobe limbic structures are vulnerable to TDP-43 pathology in advanced AD, and that the amygdala appears to be the most vulnerable region. The distribution of the lesions in this cross-sectional analysis may suggest a progression of TDP-43 pathology in AD, with limbic structures in the medial temporal lobe affected first followed by higher order association cortices.
PMCID: PMC3404722  PMID: 18592255
Amygdala; FTLD-U; FTLD-MND; frontotemporal dementia; motor neuron disease
25.  Imaging signatures of molecular pathology in behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia 
Journal of Molecular Neuroscience  2011;45(3):372-378.
Pathology underlying behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) is heterogeneous, with the most common pathologies being Pick’s disease (PiD), corticobasal degeneration (CBD), and FTLD-TDP type 1. Clinical features are unhelpful in differentiating these pathologies. We aimed to determine whether imaging atrophy patterns differ across these pathologies in bvFTD subjects. We identified 15 bvFTD subjects that had volumetric MRI during life and autopsy: five with PiD, five CBD and five FTLD-TDP type 1. Voxel-based morphometry was used to assess atrophy patterns in each bvFTD group compared to 20 age and gender-matched controls. All three pathological groups showed grey matter loss in frontal lobes, although specific patterns of atrophy differed across groups: PiD showed widespread loss in frontal lobes with additional involvement of anterior temporal lobes; CBD showed subtle patterns of loss involving posterior lateral and medial superior frontal lobe; FTLD-TDP type 1 showed widespread loss in frontal, temporal and parietal lobes. Greater parietal loss was observed in FTLD-TDP type 1 compared to both other groups, and greater anterior temporal and medial frontal loss was observed in PiD compared to CBD. Imaging patterns of atrophy in bvFTD vary according to pathological diagnosis and may therefore be helpful in predicting these pathologies in bvFTD.
PMCID: PMC3401589  PMID: 21556732
Frontotemporal dementia; behavioral variant; Pick’s disease; corticobasal degeneration; TDP-43; atrophy; voxel-based morphometry; MRI

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