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1.  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
2.  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.
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
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.  Predicting functional decline in behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia 
Brain  2011;134(2):432-448.
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.
PMCID: PMC3030765  PMID: 21252111
frontotemporal dementia; behaviour; functional decline; brain volumes; mixed effects models
5.  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
6.  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

Results 1-6 (6)