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1.  Characterizing a neurodegenerative syndrome: primary progressive apraxia of speech 
Brain  2012;135(5):1522-1536.
Apraxia of speech is a disorder of speech motor planning and/or programming that is distinguishable from aphasia and dysarthria. It most commonly results from vascular insults but can occur in degenerative diseases where it has typically been subsumed under aphasia, or it occurs in the context of more widespread neurodegeneration. The aim of this study was to determine whether apraxia of speech can present as an isolated sign of neurodegenerative disease. Between July 2010 and July 2011, 37 subjects with a neurodegenerative speech and language disorder were prospectively recruited and underwent detailed speech and language, neurological, neuropsychological and neuroimaging testing. The neuroimaging battery included 3.0 tesla volumetric head magnetic resonance imaging, [18F]-fluorodeoxyglucose and [11C] Pittsburg compound B positron emission tomography scanning. Twelve subjects were identified as having apraxia of speech without any signs of aphasia based on a comprehensive battery of language tests; hence, none met criteria for primary progressive aphasia. These subjects with primary progressive apraxia of speech included eight females and four males, with a mean age of onset of 73 years (range: 49–82). There were no specific additional shared patterns of neurological or neuropsychological impairment in the subjects with primary progressive apraxia of speech, but there was individual variability. Some subjects, for example, had mild features of behavioural change, executive dysfunction, limb apraxia or Parkinsonism. Voxel-based morphometry of grey matter revealed focal atrophy of superior lateral premotor cortex and supplementary motor area. Voxel-based morphometry of white matter showed volume loss in these same regions but with extension of loss involving the inferior premotor cortex and body of the corpus callosum. These same areas of white matter loss were observed with diffusion tensor imaging analysis, which also demonstrated reduced fractional anisotropy and increased mean diffusivity of the superior longitudinal fasciculus, particularly the premotor components. Statistical parametric mapping of the [18F]-fluorodeoxyglucose positron emission tomography scans revealed focal hypometabolism of superior lateral premotor cortex and supplementary motor area, although there was some variability across subjects noted with CortexID analysis. [11C]-Pittsburg compound B positron emission tomography binding was increased in only one of the 12 subjects, although it was unclear whether the increase was actually related to the primary progressive apraxia of speech. A syndrome characterized by progressive pure apraxia of speech clearly exists, with a neuroanatomic correlate of superior lateral premotor and supplementary motor atrophy, making this syndrome distinct from primary progressive aphasia.
doi:10.1093/brain/aws032
PMCID: PMC3338923  PMID: 22382356
primary progressive apraxia of speech; apraxia of speech; primary progressive aphasia; voxel-based morphometry; diffusion tensor imaging; fluorodeoxyglucose; Pittsburg compound B; supplementary motor area
2.  Characterization of frontotemporal dementia and/or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis associated with the GGGGCC repeat expansion in C9ORF72 
Brain  2012;135(3):765-783.
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.
doi:10.1093/brain/aws004
PMCID: PMC3286335  PMID: 22366793
frontotemporal dementia; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; motor neuron disease; TDP-43; neurogenetics; chromosome 9

Results 1-2 (2)