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1.  Dissecting phenotypic traits linked to human resilience to Alzheimer’s pathology 
Brain  2013;136(8):2510-2526.
Clinico-pathological correlation studies and positron emission tomography amyloid imaging studies have shown that some individuals can tolerate substantial amounts of Alzheimer’s pathology in their brains without experiencing dementia. Few details are known about the neuropathological phenotype of these unique cases that might prove relevant to understanding human resilience to Alzheimer’s pathology. We conducted detailed quantitative histopathological and biochemical assessments on brains from non-demented individuals before death whose brains were free of substantial Alzheimer’s pathology, non-demented individuals before death but whose post-mortem examination demonstrated significant amounts of Alzheimer’s changes (‘mismatches’), and demented Alzheimer’s cases. Quantification of amyloid-β plaque burden, stereologically-based counts of neurofibrillary tangles, neurons and reactive glia, and morphological analyses of axons were performed in the multimodal association cortex lining the superior temporal sulcus. Levels of synaptic integrity markers, and soluble monomeric and multimeric amyloid-β and tau species were measured. Our results indicate that some individuals can accumulate equivalent loads of amyloid-β plaques and tangles to those found in demented Alzheimer’s cases without experiencing dementia. Analyses revealed four main phenotypic differences among these two groups: (i) mismatches had striking preservation of neuron numbers, synaptic markers and axonal geometry compared to demented cases; (ii) demented cases had significantly higher burdens of fibrillar thioflavin-S-positive plaques and of oligomeric amyloid-β deposits reactive to conformer-specific antibody NAB61 than mismatches; (iii) strong and selective accumulation of hyperphosphorylated soluble tau multimers into the synaptic compartment was noted in demented cases compared with controls but not in mismatches; and (iv) the robust glial activation accompanying amyloid-β and tau pathologies in demented cases was remarkably reduced in mismatches. Further biochemical measurements of soluble amyloid-β species—monomers, dimers and higher molecular weight oligomers—in total brain homogenates and synaptoneurosomal preparations failed to demonstrate significant differences between mismatches and demented cases. Together, these data suggest that amyloid-β plaques and tangles do not inevitably result in neural system derangement and dementia in all individuals. We identified distinct phenotypic characteristics in the profile of brain fibrillar and soluble amyloid-β and tau accrual and in the glial response that discriminated demented and non-demented individuals with high loads of Alzheimer’s pathology. Amyloid-β deposition in the form of fibrillar plaques and intimately related oligomeric amyloid-β assemblies, hyperphosphorylated soluble tau species localized in synapses, and glial activation emerged in this series as likely mediators of neurotoxicity and altered cognition, providing further insight into factors and pathways potentially involved in human susceptibility or resilience to Alzheimer’s pathological changes.
PMCID: PMC3722351  PMID: 23824488
Alzheimers disease; amyloid pathology; tau pathology; resilience; astrocytes; microglia
2.  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
3.  Neuroimaging signatures of frontotemporal dementia genetics: C9ORF72, tau, progranulin and sporadics 
Brain  2012;135(3):794-806.
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.
PMCID: PMC3286334  PMID: 22366795
frontotemporal dementia; magnetic resonance imaging; C9ORF72; tau; progranulin
4.  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.
PMCID: PMC3286335  PMID: 22366793
frontotemporal dementia; amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; motor neuron disease; TDP-43; neurogenetics; chromosome 9
5.  Perivenous demyelination: association with clinically defined acute disseminated encephalomyelitis and comparison with pathologically confirmed multiple sclerosis 
Brain  2010;133(2):333-348.
Distinction between acute disseminated encephalomyelitis and acute multiple sclerosis is often clinically difficult. Perivenous demyelination is the pathological hallmark of acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, whereas confluent demyelination is the hallmark of acute multiple sclerosis. We investigated whether perivenous demyelination versus confluent demyelination distinguishes acute disseminated encephalomyelitis from multiple sclerosis. Patients with perivenous demyelination (n = 13; median age 43 years, range 5–67) on brain biopsy and/or autopsy, ascertained retrospectively, were compared with a cohort with confluent demyelination only (n = 91; 84% multiple sclerosis, 16% isolated syndrome at follow-up; median age 39 years, range 10–69). Clinical presentation, course and the International Paediatric Multiple Sclerosis Study Group clinical criteria for acute disseminated encephalomyelitis were assessed in both cohorts. Among the perivenous demyelination cohort, 10 patients had only perivenous demyelination and three also had confluent demyelination. All but one patient with perivenous demyelination only had a monophasic course, whereas two of three with both types had a relapsing course. The perivenous demyelination cohort was more likely than the confluent demyelination cohort to present with encephalopathy (P < 0.001), depressed level of consciousness (P < 0.001), headache (P < 0.001), meningismus (P = 0.04), cerebrospinal fluid pleocytosis (P = 0.04) or multifocal enhancing magnetic resonance imaging lesions (P < 0.001). A distinct pattern of cortical microglial activation and aggregation without associated cortical demyelination was found among six perivenous demyelination patients, all of whom had encephalopathy and four of whom had depressed level of consciousness. This pattern of cortical pathology was not observed in the confluent demyelination cohort, even in one patient with depressed level of consciousness. Clinical criteria were 80% sensitive and 91% specific for pathologically defined acute disseminated encephalomyelitis (perivenous demyelination), but misdiagnosed acute disseminated encephalomyelitis among 9% of patients with confluent demyelination and multiple sclerosis diagnosis at last follow-up. Perivenous demyelination is associated with meningoencephalopathic presentations and a monophasic course. Depressed level of consciousness is a more specific clinical criterion for pathologically confirmed acute disseminated encephalomyelitis than encephalopathy, which over-diagnosed acute disseminated encephalomyelitis among multiple sclerosis patients. A distinct pattern of cortical microglial activation without cortical demyelination may be the pathological correlate of depressed level of consciousness in acute disseminated encephalomyelitis. Although pathological evidence of perivenous demyelination may be superior to clinical criteria for diagnosing acute disseminated encephalomyelitis, the co-occurrence of perivenous and confluent demyelination in some individuals suggests pathogenic overlap between acute disseminated encephalomyelitis and multiple sclerosis and misclassification even with biopsy.
PMCID: PMC2822631  PMID: 20129932
multiple sclerosis; magnetic resonance imaging; neuropathology; immune-mediated demyelination; demyelinating disease
6.  Distinct anatomical subtypes of the behavioural variant of frontotemporal dementia: a cluster analysis study 
Brain  2009;132(11):2932-2946.
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.
PMCID: PMC2768663  PMID: 19762452
behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia; atrophy; cluster analysis; voxel-based morphometry
7.  Rates of cerebral atrophy differ in different degenerative pathologies 
Brain : a journal of neurology  2007;130(Pt 4):1148-1158.
Neurodegenerative disorders are pathologically characterized by the deposition of abnormal proteins in the brain. It is likely that future treatment trials will target the underlying protein biochemistry and it is therefore increasingly important to be able to distinguish between different pathologies during life. The aim of this study was to determine whether rates of brain atrophy differ in neurodegenerative dementias that vary by pathological diagnoses and characteristic protein biochemistry. Fifty-six autopsied subjects were identified with a clinical diagnosis of dementia and two serial head MRI. Subjects were subdivided based on pathological diagnoses into Alzheimer's disease (AD), dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), mixed AD/DLB, frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin-only-immunoreactive changes (FTLD-U), corticobasal degeneration (CBD) and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). Twenty-five controls were matched by age, gender, and scan interval, to the study cohort. The boundary-shift integral was used to calculate change over time in whole brain (BBSI) and ventricular volume (VBSI). All BSI results were annualized by adjusting for scan interval. The rates of whole brain atrophy and ventricular expansion were significantly increased compared to controls in the AD, mixed AD/DLB, FTLD-U, CBD and PSP groups. However, atrophy rates in the DLB group were not significantly different from control rates of atrophy. The largest rates of atrophy were observed in the CBD group which had a BBSI of 2.3% and VBSI of 16.2%. The CBD group had significantly greater rates of BBSI and VBSI than the DLB, mixed AD/DLB, AD and PSP groups, with a similar trend observed when compared to the FTLD-U group. The FTLD-U group showed the next largest rates with a BBSI of 1.7% and VBSI of 9.6% which were both significantly greater than the DLB group. There was no significant difference in the rates of atrophy between the AD, mixed AD/DLB and PSP groups, which all showed similar rates of atrophy; BBSI of 1.1, 1.3 and 1.0% and VBSI of 8.3, 7.2 and 10.9% respectively. Rates of atrophy therefore differ according to the pathological diagnoses and underlying protein biochemistry. While rates are unlikely to be useful in differentiating AD from cases with mixed AD/DLB pathology, they demonstrate important pathophysiological differences between DLB and those with mixed AD/DLB and AD pathology, and between those with CBD and PSP pathology.
PMCID: PMC2752409  PMID: 17347250
magnetic resonance imaging; Alzheimer's disease; dementia with Lewy bodies; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; progressive supranuclear palsy
8.  Clinicopathologic and Imaging Correlates of Progressive Aphasia and Apraxia of Speech 
Brain : a journal of neurology  2006;129(Pt 6):1385-1398.
Apraxia of speech (AOS) is a motor speech disorder characterized by slow speaking rate, abnormal prosody and distorted sound substitutions, additions, repetitions and prolongations, sometimes accompanied by groping and trial-and error articulatory movements. Although AOS is frequently subsumed under the heading of aphasia, and indeed most often co-occurs with aphasia, it can be the predominant or even the sole manifestation of a degenerative neurologic disease. In this study we determined whether the clinical classifications of aphasia and AOS correlated with pathological diagnoses and specific biochemical and anatomical structural abnormalities. Seventeen cases with initial diagnoses of a degenerative aphasia or AOS were reclassified independently by two speech-language pathologists — blinded to pathologic and biochemical findings - into one of five operationally defined categories of aphasia and AOS. Pathological diagnoses in the 17 cases were progressive supranuclear palsy in six, corticobasal degeneration in five, frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin-only-immunoreactive changes in five, and Pick’s disease in one. Voxel-based morphometry and SPECT were completed, blinded to the clinical diagnoses, and clinico-imaging and clinico-pathological associations were then sought. Interjudge clinical classification reliability was 87% (κ =0.8) for all evaluations. Eleven cases had evidence of AOS, of which all (100%) had a pathological diagnosis characterized by underlying tau biochemistry, while five of the other six cases without AOS did not have tau biochemistry (p=0.001). A majority of the 17 cases had more than one yearly evaluation, demonstrating the evolution of the speech and language syndromes, as well as motor signs. Voxel-based morphometry revealed the premotor and supplemental motor cortices to be the main cortical regions associated with AOS, while the anterior peri-sylvian region was associated with non-fluent aphasia. Refining the classification of the degenerative aphasias and AOS may be necessary to improve our understanding of the relationships among behavioral, pathological, and imaging correlations.
PMCID: PMC2748312  PMID: 16613895
Premotor cortex; supplementary motor cortex; progressive supranuclear palsy; apraxia of speech; aphasia

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