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.
TDP-43 type C; corticospinal tract; MRI; semantic dementia; right temporal lobe
Acetylcholinesterase inhibitors are commonly used to treat patients with dementia with Lewy bodies. Hippocampal atrophy on magnetic resonance imaging and amyloid-β load on positron emission tomography are associated with the Alzheimer’s disease-related pathology in patients with dementia with Lewy bodies. To date, few studies have investigated imaging markers that predict treatment response in patients with dementia with Lewy bodies. Our objective was to determine whether imaging markers of Alzheimer’s disease-related pathology such as hippocampal volume, brain amyloid-β load on 11C Pittsburgh compound B positron emission tomography predict treatment response to acetylcholinesterase inhibitors in patients with dementia with Lewy bodies. We performed a retrospective analysis on consecutive treatment-naive patients with dementia with Lewy bodies (n = 54) from the Mayo Clinic Alzheimer’s Disease Research Centre who subsequently received acetylcholinesterase inhibitors and underwent magnetic resonance imaging with hippocampal volumetry. Baseline and follow-up assessments were obtained with the Mattis Dementia Rating Scale. Subjects were divided into three groups (reliable improvement, stable or reliable decline) using Dementia Rating Scale reliable change indices determined previously. Associations between hippocampal volumes and treatment response were tested with analysis of covariance adjusting for baseline Dementia Rating Scale, age, gender, magnetic resonance field strength and Dementia Rating Scale interval. Seven subjects underwent 11C Pittsburgh compound B imaging within 12 weeks of magnetic resonance imaging. Global cortical 11C Pittsburgh compound B retention (scaled to cerebellar retention) was calculated in these patients. Using a conservative psychometric method of assessing treatment response, there were 12 patients with reliable decline, 29 stable cases and 13 patients with reliable improvement. The improvers had significantly larger hippocampi than those that declined (P = 0.02) and the stable (P = 0.04) group. An exploratory analysis demonstrated larger grey matter volumes in the temporal and parietal lobes in improvers compared with those who declined (P < 0.05). The two patients who had a positive 11C Pittsburgh compound B positron emission tomography scan declined and those who had a negative 11C Pittsburgh compound B positron emission tomography scan improved or were stable after treatment. Patients with dementia with Lewy bodies who do not have the imaging features of coexistent Alzheimer’s disease-related pathology are more likely to cognitively improve with acetylcholinesterase inhibitor treatment.
dementia with Lewy bodies; acetylcholinesterase inhibitors; MRI; PiB; PET; amyloid
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.
pathology; immunocytochemistry; progressive supranuclear palsy; tau protein; corticobasal degeneration
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.
behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia; diagnostic criteria; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; FTD; pathology
A major recent discovery was the identification of an expansion of a non-coding GGGGCC hexanucleotide repeat in the C9ORF72 gene in patients with frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Mutations in two other genes are known to account for familial frontotemporal dementia: microtubule-associated protein tau and progranulin. Although imaging features have been previously reported in subjects with mutations in tau and progranulin, no imaging features have been published in C9ORF72. Furthermore, it remains unknown whether there are differences in atrophy patterns across these mutations, and whether regional differences could help differentiate C9ORF72 from the other two mutations at the single-subject level. We aimed to determine the regional pattern of brain atrophy associated with the C9ORF72 gene mutation, and to determine which regions best differentiate C9ORF72 from subjects with mutations in tau and progranulin, and from sporadic frontotemporal dementia. A total of 76 subjects, including 56 with a clinical diagnosis of behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia and a mutation in one of these genes (19 with C9ORF72 mutations, 25 with tau mutations and 12 with progranulin mutations) and 20 sporadic subjects with behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia (including 50% with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis), with magnetic resonance imaging were included in this study. Voxel-based morphometry was used to assess and compare patterns of grey matter atrophy. Atlas-based parcellation was performed utilizing the automated anatomical labelling atlas and Statistical Parametric Mapping software to compute volumes of 37 regions of interest. Hemispheric asymmetry was calculated. Penalized multinomial logistic regression was utilized to create a prediction model to discriminate among groups using regional volumes and asymmetry score. Principal component analysis assessed for variance within groups. C9ORF72 was associated with symmetric atrophy predominantly involving dorsolateral, medial and orbitofrontal lobes, with additional loss in anterior temporal lobes, parietal lobes, occipital lobes and cerebellum. In contrast, striking anteromedial temporal atrophy was associated with tau mutations and temporoparietal atrophy was associated with progranulin mutations. The sporadic group was associated with frontal and anterior temporal atrophy. A conservative penalized multinomial logistic regression model identified 14 variables that could accurately classify subjects, including frontal, temporal, parietal, occipital and cerebellum volume. The principal component analysis revealed similar degrees of heterogeneity within all disease groups. Patterns of atrophy therefore differed across subjects with C9ORF72, tau and progranulin mutations and sporadic frontotemporal dementia. Our analysis suggested that imaging has the potential to be useful to help differentiate C9ORF72 from these other groups at the single-subject level.
frontotemporal dementia; magnetic resonance imaging; C9ORF72; tau; progranulin
Numerous kindreds with familial frontotemporal dementia and/or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis have been linked to chromosome 9, and an expansion of the GGGGCC hexanucleotide repeat in the non-coding region of chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 has recently been identified as the pathogenic mechanism. We describe the key characteristics in the probands and their affected relatives who have been evaluated at Mayo Clinic Rochester or Mayo Clinic Florida in whom the hexanucleotide repeat expansion were found. Forty-three probands and 10 of their affected relatives with DNA available (total 53 subjects) were shown to carry the hexanucleotide repeat expansion. Thirty-six (84%) of the 43 probands had a familial disorder, whereas seven (16%) appeared to be sporadic. Among examined subjects from the 43 families (n = 63), the age of onset ranged from 33 to 72 years (median 52 years) and survival ranged from 1 to 17 years, with the age of onset <40 years in six (10%) and >60 in 19 (30%). Clinical diagnoses among examined subjects included behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia with or without parkinsonism (n = 30), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (n = 18), frontotemporal dementia/amyotrophic lateral sclerosis with or without parkinsonism (n = 12), and other various syndromes (n = 3). Parkinsonism was present in 35% of examined subjects, all of whom had behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia or frontotemporal dementia/amyotrophic lateral sclerosis as the dominant clinical phenotype. No subject with a diagnosis of primary progressive aphasia was identified with this mutation. Incomplete penetrance was suggested in two kindreds, and the youngest generation had significantly earlier age of onset (>10 years) compared with the next oldest generation in 11 kindreds. Neuropsychological testing showed a profile of slowed processing speed, complex attention/executive dysfunction, and impairment in rapid word retrieval. Neuroimaging studies showed bilateral frontal abnormalities most consistently, with more variable degrees of parietal with or without temporal changes; no case had strikingly focal or asymmetric findings. Neuropathological examination of 14 patients revealed a range of transactive response DNA binding protein molecular weight 43 pathology (10 type A and four type B), as well as ubiquitin-positive cerebellar granular neuron inclusions in all but one case. Motor neuron degeneration was detected in nine patients, including five patients without ante-mortem signs of motor neuron disease. While variability exists, most cases with this mutation have a characteristic spectrum of demographic, clinical, neuropsychological, neuroimaging and especially neuropathological findings.
frontotemporal dementia; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; motor neuron disease; TDP-43; neurogenetics; chromosome 9
Behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia is characterized by a change in comportment. It is associated with considerable functional decline over the course of the illness albeit with sometimes dramatic variability among patients. It is unknown whether any baseline features, or combination of features, could predict rate of functional decline in behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia. The aim of this study was to investigate the effects of different baseline clinical, neuropsychological, neuropsychiatric, genetic and anatomic predictors on the rate of functional decline as measured by the Clinical Dementia Rating Sum of Boxes scale. We identified 86 subjects with behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia that had multiple serial Clinical Dementia Rating Sum of Boxes assessments (mean 4, range 2–18). Atlas-based parcellation was used to generate volumes for specific regions of interest at baseline. Volumes were utilized to classify subjects into different anatomical subtypes using the advanced statistical technique of cluster analysis and were assessed as predictor variables. Composite scores were generated for the neuropsychological domains of executive, language, memory and visuospatial function. Behaviours from the brief questionnaire form of the Neuropsychiatric Inventory were assessed. Linear mixed-effects regression modelling was used to determine which baseline features predict rate of future functional decline. Rates of functional decline differed across the anatomical subtypes of behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia, with faster rates observed in the frontal dominant and frontotemporal subtypes. In addition, subjects with poorer performance on neuropsychological tests of executive, language and visuospatial function, less disinhibition, agitation/aggression and night-time behaviours at presentation, and smaller medial, lateral and orbital frontal lobe volumes showed faster rates of decline. In many instances, the effect of the predictor variables observed across all subjects was also preserved within anatomical subtypes. Furthermore, some of the predictor variables improved our prediction of rate of functional decline after anatomical subtype was taken into account. In particular, age at onset was a highly significant predictor but only after adjusting for subtype. We also found that although some predictor variables, for example gender, Mini-Mental State Examination score, and apathy/indifference, did not affect the rate of functional decline; these variables were associated with the actual Clinical Dementia Rating Sum of Boxes score estimated for any given time-point. These findings suggest that in behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia, rate of functional decline is driven by the combination of anatomical pattern of atrophy, age at onset, and neuropsychiatric characteristics of the subject at baseline.
frontotemporal dementia; behaviour; functional decline; brain volumes; mixed effects models
There are little data on the relationship between Lewy body disease and mild cognitive impairment syndromes. The Mayo Clinic aging and dementia databases in Rochester, Minnesota, and Jacksonville, Florida were queried for cases who were diagnosed with mild cognitive impairment between 1 January 1996 and 30 April 2008, were prospectively followed and were subsequently found to have autopsy-proven Lewy body disease. The presence of rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder was specifically assessed. Mild cognitive impairment subtypes were determined by clinical impression and neuropsychological profiles, based on prospective operational criteria. The diagnosis of clinically probable dementia with Lewy bodies was based on the 2005 McKeith criteria. Hippocampal volumes, rate of hippocampal atrophy, and proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy were assessed on available magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy scans. Eight subjects were identified; six were male. Seven developed dementia with Lewy bodies prior to death; one died characterized as mild cognitive impairment. The number of cases and median age of onset (range) for specific features were: seven with rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder—60 years (27–91 years), eight with cognitive symptoms—69 years (62–89 years), eight with mild cognitive impairment—70.5 years (66–91 years), eight with parkinsonism symptoms—71 years (66–92 years), six with visual hallucinations—72 years (64–90 years), seven with dementia—75 years (67–92 years), six with fluctuations in cognition and/or arousal—76 years (68–92 years) and eight dead—76 years (71–94 years). Rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder preceded cognitive symptom onset in six cases by a median of 10 years (2–47 years) and mild cognitive impairment diagnosis by a median of 12 years (3–48 years). The mild cognitive impairment subtypes represented include: two with single domain non-amnestic mild cognitive impairment, three with multi-domain non-amnestic mild cognitive impairment, and three with multi-domain amnestic mild cognitive impairment. The cognitive domains most frequently affected were attention and executive functioning, and visuospatial functioning. Hippocampal volumes and the rate of hippocampal atrophy were, on average, within the normal range in the three cases who underwent magnetic resonance imaging, and the choline/creatine ratio was elevated in the two cases who underwent proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy when they were diagnosed as mild cognitive impairment. On autopsy, six had neocortical-predominant Lewy body disease and two had limbic-predominant Lewy body disease; only one had coexisting high-likelihood Alzheimer's disease. These findings indicate that among Lewy body disease cases that pass through a mild cognitive impairment stage, any cognitive pattern or mild cognitive subtype is possible, with the attention/executive and visuospatial domains most frequently impaired. Hippocampal volume and proton magnetic resonance spectroscopy data were consistent with recent data in dementia with Lewy bodies. All cases with rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder and mild cognitive impairment were eventually shown to have autopsy-proven Lewy body disease, indicating that rapid eye movement sleep behaviour disorder plus mild cognitive impairment probably reflects brainstem and cerebral Lewy body disease.
mild cognitive impairment; dementia; dementia with Lewy bodies; Lewy body disease; neuropathology
The behavioural variant of frontotemporal dementia is a progressive neurodegenerative syndrome characterized by changes in personality and behaviour. It is typically associated with frontal lobe atrophy, although patterns of atrophy are heterogeneous. The objective of this study was to examine case-by-case variability in patterns of grey matter atrophy in subjects with the behavioural variant of frontotemporal dementia and to investigate whether behavioural variant of frontotemporal dementia can be divided into distinct anatomical subtypes. Sixty-six subjects that fulfilled clinical criteria for a diagnosis of the behavioural variant of frontotemporal dementia with a volumetric magnetic resonance imaging scan were identified. Grey matter volumes were obtained for 26 regions of interest, covering frontal, temporal and parietal lobes, striatum, insula and supplemental motor area, using the automated anatomical labelling atlas. Regional volumes were divided by total grey matter volume. A hierarchical agglomerative cluster analysis using Ward's clustering linkage method was performed to cluster the behavioural variant of frontotemporal dementia subjects into different anatomical clusters. Voxel-based morphometry was used to assess patterns of grey matter loss in each identified cluster of subjects compared to an age and gender-matched control group at P < 0.05 (family-wise error corrected). We identified four potentially useful clusters with distinct patterns of grey matter loss, which we posit represent anatomical subtypes of the behavioural variant of frontotemporal dementia. Two of these subtypes were associated with temporal lobe volume loss, with one subtype showing loss restricted to temporal lobe regions (temporal-dominant subtype) and the other showing grey matter loss in the temporal lobes as well as frontal and parietal lobes (temporofrontoparietal subtype). Another two subtypes were characterized by a large amount of frontal lobe volume loss, with one subtype showing grey matter loss in the frontal lobes as well as loss of the temporal lobes (frontotemporal subtype) and the other subtype showing loss relatively restricted to the frontal lobes (frontal-dominant subtype). These four subtypes differed on clinical measures of executive function, episodic memory and confrontation naming. There were also associations between the four subtypes and genetic or pathological diagnoses which were obtained in 48% of the cohort. The clusters did not differ in behavioural severity as measured by the Neuropsychiatric Inventory; supporting the original classification of the behavioural variant of frontotemporal dementia in these subjects. Our findings suggest behavioural variant of frontotemporal dementia can therefore be subdivided into four different anatomical subtypes.
behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia; atrophy; cluster analysis; voxel-based morphometry
To design clinical trials for the frontotemporal lobar degenerations (FTLD), knowledge about measurement of disease progression is needed to estimate power and enable the choice of optimal outcome measures. The aim here was to conduct a multicentre, 1 year replica of a clinical trial in patients with one of four FTLD syndromes, behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD), progressive nonfluent aphasia (PNFA), progressive logopenic aphasia (PLA) and semantic dementia (SMD). Patients with one of the four FTLD syndromes were recruited from five academic medical centres over a 2 year period. Standard operationalized diagnostic criteria were used. In addition to clinical inclusion and exclusion criteria, patients were required to exhibit focal frontal, temporal or insular brain atrophy or dysfunction by neuroimaging. Patients underwent neuropsychological, functional, behavioural, neurological and MR imaging assessment at baseline and approximately 12 months later. Potential outcome measures were examined for their rates of floor and ceiling values at baseline and end of study, their mean changes and variances. The neuropsychological tests were combined into two cognitive composites—one for language functions and the other for executive functions. There were 107 patients who underwent baseline assessment and 78 who completed a follow-up assessment within 10–16 months. Two global measures, the FTLD-modified Clinical Dementia Rating (FTLD-modified CDR) and the Clinical Global Impression of Change (CGIC) demonstrated decline in the majority of patients. Several cognitive measures showed negligible floor or ceiling scores either at baseline or follow-up. Scores declined at follow-up in the majority of patients. The cognitive, executive and combined composites were shown to be sensitive to change across all FTLD syndromes. Patients improved at follow-up on the behavioural scales—the Frontal Behavioural Inventory (22%) and the Neuropsychiatric Inventory (28%)—suggesting that these instruments may not be ideal for clinical trial use. It was feasible to recruit FTLD patients in a simulated multi-centre trial. There are several candidate outcome measures—including the FTLD-CDR and the cognitive composites— that could be used in clinical trials across the spectrum of FTLD.
frontotemporal dementia; clinical trials; neuropsychology
The purpose of this study was to use serial imaging to gain insight into the sequence of pathologic events in Alzheimer's disease, and the clinical features associated with this sequence. We measured change in amyloid deposition over time using serial 11C Pittsburgh compound B (PIB) positron emission tomography and progression of neurodegeneration using serial structural magnetic resonance imaging. We studied 21 healthy cognitively normal subjects, 32 with amnestic mild cognitive impairment and 8 with Alzheimer's disease. Subjects were drawn from two sources—ongoing longitudinal registries at Mayo Clinic, and the Alzheimer's disease Neuroimaging Initiative (ADNI). All subjects underwent clinical assessments, MRI and PIB studies at two time points, approximately one year apart. PIB retention was quantified in global cortical to cerebellar ratio units and brain atrophy in units of cm3 by measuring ventricular expansion. The annual change in global PIB retention did not differ by clinical group (P = 0.90), and although small (median 0.042 ratio units/year overall) was greater than zero among all subjects (P < 0.001). Ventricular expansion rates differed by clinical group (P < 0.001) and increased in the following order: cognitively normal (1.3 cm3/year) < amnestic mild cognitive impairment (2.5 cm3/year) < Alzheimer's disease (7.7 cm3/year). Among all subjects there was no correlation between PIB change and concurrent change on CDR-SB (r = −0.01, P = 0.97) but some evidence of a weak correlation with MMSE (r =−0.22, P = 0.09). In contrast, greater rates of ventricular expansion were clearly correlated with worsening concurrent change on CDR-SB (r = 0.42, P < 0.01) and MMSE (r =−0.52, P < 0.01). Our data are consistent with a model of typical late onset Alzheimer's disease that has two main features: (i) dissociation between the rate of amyloid deposition and the rate of neurodegeneration late in life, with amyloid deposition proceeding at a constant slow rate while neurodegeneration accelerates and (ii) clinical symptoms are coupled to neurodegeneration not amyloid deposition. Significant plaque deposition occurs prior to clinical decline. The presence of brain amyloidosis alone is not sufficient to produce cognitive decline, rather, the neurodegenerative component of Alzheimer's disease pathology is the direct substrate of cognitive impairment and the rate of cognitive decline is driven by the rate of neurodegeneration. Neurodegeneration (atrophy on MRI) both precedes and parallels cognitive decline. This model implies a complimentary role for MRI and PIB imaging in Alzheimer's disease, with each reflecting one of the major pathologies, amyloid dysmetabolism and neurodegeneration.
Alzheimer's disease; amyloid imaging; magnetic resonance imaging, longitudinal imaging; mild cognitive impairment; Pittsburgh compound B
Mutations in the progranulin gene (GRN) are an important cause of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) with ubiquitin and TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP43)-positive pathology. The clinical presentation associated with GRN mutations is heterogeneous and may include clinical probable Alzheimer's disease. All GRN mutations identified thus far cause disease through a uniform disease mechanism, i.e. the loss of functional GRN or haploinsufficiency. To determine if expression of GRN in plasma could predict GRN mutation status and could be used as a biological marker, we optimized a GRN ELISA and studied plasma samples of a consecutive clinical FTLD series of 219 patients, 70 control individuals, 72 early-onset probable Alzheimer's disease patients and nine symptomatic and 18 asymptomatic relatives of GRN mutation families. All FTLD patients with GRN loss-of-function mutations showed significantly reduced levels of GRN in plasma to about one third of the levels observed in non-GRN carriers and control individuals (P < 0.001). No overlap in distributions of GRN levels was observed between the eight GRN loss-of-function mutation carriers (range: 53–94 ng/ml) and 191 non-GRN mutation carriers (range: 115–386 ng/ml). Similar low levels of GRN were identified in asymptomatic GRN mutation carriers. Importantly, ELISA analyses also identified one probable Alzheimer's disease patient (1.4%) carrying a loss-of-function mutation in GRN. Biochemical analyses further showed that the GRN ELISA only detects full-length GRN, no intermediate granulin fragments. This study demonstrates that using a GRN ELISA in plasma, pathogenic GRN mutations can be accurately detected in symptomatic and asymptomatic carriers. The ∼75% reduction in full-length GRN, suggests an unbalanced GRN metabolism in loss-of-function mutation carriers whereby more GRN is processed into granulins. We propose that plasma GRN levels could be used as a reliable and inexpensive tool to identify all GRN mutation carriers in early-onset dementia populations and asymptomatic at-risk individuals.
Progranulin; ELISA; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; Alzheimer's disease