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Concept: Frontotemporal lobar degeneration


Elevated expression of specific transposable elements (TEs) has been observed in several neurodegenerative disorders. TEs also can be active during normal neurogenesis. By mining a series of deep sequencing datasets of protein-RNA interactions and of gene expression profiles, we uncovered extensive binding of TE transcripts to TDP-43, an RNA-binding protein central to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). Second, we find that association between TDP-43 and many of its TE targets is reduced in FTLD patients. Third, we discovered that a large fraction of the TEs to which TDP-43 binds become de-repressed in mouse TDP-43 disease models. We propose the hypothesis that TE mis-regulation contributes to TDP-43 related neurodegenerative diseases.

Concepts: Gene, Evolution, Molecular biology, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Neurodegenerative disorders, Frontotemporal dementia, Frontotemporal lobar degeneration


Over 30% of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) exhibit cognitive deficits indicative of frontotemporal dementia (FTD), suggesting a common pathogenesis for both diseases. Consistent with this hypothesis, neuronal and glial inclusions rich in TDP43, an essential RNA-binding protein, are found in the majority of those with ALS and FTD, and mutations in TDP43 and a related RNA-binding protein, FUS, cause familial ALS and FTD. TDP43 and FUS affect the splicing of thousands of transcripts, in some cases triggering nonsense-mediated mRNA decay (NMD), a highly conserved RNA degradation pathway. Here, we take advantage of a faithful primary neuronal model of ALS and FTD to investigate and characterize the role of human up-frameshift protein 1 (hUPF1), an RNA helicase and master regulator of NMD, in these disorders. We show that hUPF1 significantly protects mammalian neurons from both TDP43- and FUS-related toxicity. Expression of hUPF2, another essential component of NMD, also improves survival, whereas inhibiting NMD prevents rescue by hUPF1, suggesting that hUPF1 acts through NMD to enhance survival. These studies emphasize the importance of RNA metabolism in ALS and FTD, and identify a uniquely effective therapeutic strategy for these disorders.

Concepts: DNA, Transcription, RNA, Messenger RNA, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Frontotemporal dementia, Frontotemporal lobar degeneration, FUS


Frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitin-positive inclusions (FTLD-U) is one of the most common pathological findings associated with the clinical FTLD syndromes. However, molecular characterization with genetic sequencing and protein expression techniques are recognizing many new subtypes for FTLDs. FTLDs are diverse and new nomenclature schemes have been proposed based on the molecular defects that are being discovered ( Mackenzie et al., 2010 , Acta Neuropathologica, 119, 1). Adult polyglucosan body disease (APBD) is a very rare disorder associated with systemic neurological signs and symptoms including progressive dementia with executive dysfunction and motor neuron disease. We report the clinical course of an individual with a clinical FTLD and the as yet unreported findings of coexistent APBD with FTLD-U and transactivation response DNA-binding protein-43 (TDP-43)-positive inclusions at autopsy (or more accurately, FTLD-TDP). It is unclear if these distinct findings are coincidental in this individual, or if pathogenic pathways may intersect to promote these coexisting pathologies.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Pathology, Anatomical pathology, Symptom, Dementia, Frontotemporal dementia, Motor neuron, Frontotemporal lobar degeneration


Inclusion body myopathy associated with Paget’s disease of the bone and frontotemporal dementia is a rare but highly penetrant autosomal dominant progressive disorder linked to mutations in valosin containing protein (VCP). Here, we characterize a novel mutation in the linker 1 domain of VCP leading to inclusion body myopathy and/or frontotemporal dementia in 3 generations of a Swiss family. A detailed history of several years of clinical follow-up and electrophysiological, radiological and pathological findings are presented. Five out of 6 individuals suffered from progressive myopathy and 2 out of 6 from frontotemporal dementia, respectively. A radiologically suspected Paget’s disease of the bone could not been confirmed at autopsy. This case study illustrates that only a subset of individuals shows the full triad of the disease complex and that clinicopathological findings are - when interpreted apart from familial history - hard to distinguish from sporadic inclusion body myositis.

Concepts: Cancer, Diseases and disorders, Death, Prion, Frontotemporal lobar degeneration, Inclusion body myositis, Myopathy, Hereditary inclusion body myopathy


Purpose To investigate the diagnostic accuracy of an image-based classifier to distinguish between Alzheimer disease (AD) and behavioral variant frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD) in individual patients by using gray matter (GM) density maps computed from standard T1-weighted structural images obtained with multiple imagers and with independent training and prediction data. Materials and Methods The local institutional review board approved the study. Eighty-four patients with AD, 51 patients with bvFTD, and 94 control subjects were divided into independent training (n = 115) and prediction (n = 114) sets with identical diagnosis and imager type distributions. Training of a support vector machine (SVM) classifier used diagnostic status and GM density maps and produced voxelwise discrimination maps. Discriminant function analysis was used to estimate suitability of the extracted weights for single-subject classification in the prediction set. Receiver operating characteristic (ROC) curves and area under the ROC curve (AUC) were calculated for image-based classifiers and neuropsychological z scores. Results Training accuracy of the SVM was 85% for patients with AD versus control subjects, 72% for patients with bvFTD versus control subjects, and 79% for patients with AD versus patients with bvFTD (P ≤ .029). Single-subject diagnosis in the prediction set when using the discrimination maps yielded accuracies of 88% for patients with AD versus control subjects, 85% for patients with bvFTD versus control subjects, and 82% for patients with AD versus patients with bvFTD, with a good to excellent AUC (range, 0.81-0.95; P ≤ .001). Machine learning-based categorization of AD versus bvFTD based on GM density maps outperforms classification based on neuropsychological test results. Conclusion The SVM can be used in single-subject discrimination and can help the clinician arrive at a diagnosis. The SVM can be used to distinguish disease-specific GM patterns in patients with AD and those with bvFTD as compared with normal aging by using common T1-weighted structural MR imaging. (©) RSNA, 2015.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Neurology, Dementia, Receiver operating characteristic, Binary classification, Statistical classification, Support vector machine, Frontotemporal lobar degeneration


Misidentification delusions (MDs) are considered relatively rare psychopathologic phenomena that may occur within the context of psychiatric or neurological conditions. The purpose of this study was to assess the prevalence of MD in different types of dementia, correlate the presence of MD with demographic and clinical variables, and validate a specific questionnaire. We examined 146 subjects with Alzheimer disease, 21 with Lewy body dementia, 6 with frontotemporal dementia, and 13 with vascular dementia (subcortical type), who were consecutively enrolled in the study from 2 Memory Clinics. Patients had a mean age of 78.7±6.4 years and an Mini-Mental State Examination average score of 16.9±6.1. The Neuropsychiatric Inventory delusion subscale and a new Misidentification Delusion Questionnaire aimed at specific assessment of 11 delusional misidentification syndromes were administrated to the caregivers. On the basis of the Neuropsychiatric Inventory, MDs were present in 33.3% of the subjects, whereas according to the Misidentification Delusion Questionnaire they were present in 36.0% of the subjects. Specifically, 34.2% of Alzheimer disease, 52.4% of Lewy body dementia, and 46.1% of vascular dementia patients experienced at least 1 MD. None of the patients with frontotemporal dementia developed MD. The most frequent MD was house misidentification, followed by splitting of people and reduplicative paramnesia. Our self-administered questionnaire proved to be an accurate and specific tool for the detection of MD.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Neurology, Parkinson's disease, Dementia, Psychiatry, Lewy body, Delusional misidentification syndrome, Frontotemporal lobar degeneration


The terms frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) indicate a large set of neurodegenerative diseases, heterogeneous in their genetic, pathologic and clinical aspects.

Concepts: Neuroscience, Neurodegeneration, Neurodegenerative disorders, Frontotemporal dementia, Frontotemporal lobar degeneration, Neurodegenerative diseases


Heterozygous mutations in the GRN gene lead to progranulin (PGRN) haploinsufficiency and cause frontotemporal dementia (FTD), a neurodegenerative syndrome of older adults. Homozygous GRN mutations, on the other hand, lead to complete PGRN loss and cause neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (NCL), a lysosomal storage disease usually seen in children. Given that the predominant clinical and pathological features of FTD and NCL are distinct, it is controversial whether the disease mechanisms associated with complete and partial PGRN loss are similar or distinct. We show that PGRN haploinsufficiency leads to NCL-like features in humans, some occurring before dementia onset. Noninvasive retinal imaging revealed preclinical retinal lipofuscinosis in heterozygous GRN mutation carriers. Increased lipofuscinosis and intracellular NCL-like storage material also occurred in postmortem cortex of heterozygous GRN mutation carriers. Lymphoblasts from heterozygous GRN mutation carriers accumulated prominent NCL-like storage material, which could be rescued by normalizing PGRN expression. Fibroblasts from heterozygous GRN mutation carriers showed impaired lysosomal protease activity. Our findings indicate that progranulin haploinsufficiency caused accumulation of NCL-like storage material and early retinal abnormalities in humans and implicate lysosomal dysfunction as a central disease process in GRN-associated FTD and GRN-associated NCL.

Concepts: Genetics, Cancer, Mutation, Lysosomal storage disease, Neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis, Frontotemporal lobar degeneration, Batten disease, Lipofuscin


Cerebrovascular disease and vascular risk factors are associated with Alzheimer’s disease, but the evidence for their association with other neurodegenerative disorders is limited. Therefore, we compared the prevalence of cerebrovascular disease, vascular pathology and vascular risk factors in a wide range of neurodegenerative diseases and correlate them with dementia severity. Presence of cerebrovascular disease, vascular pathology and vascular risk factors was studied in 5715 cases of the National Alzheimer’s Coordinating Centre database with a single neurodegenerative disease diagnosis (Alzheimer’s disease, frontotemporal lobar degeneration due to tau, and TAR DNA-binding protein 43 immunoreactive deposits, α-synucleinopathies, hippocampal sclerosis and prion disease) based on a neuropathological examination with or without cerebrovascular disease, defined neuropathologically. In addition, 210 ‘unremarkable brain’ cases without cognitive impairment, and 280 cases with pure cerebrovascular disease were included for comparison. Cases with cerebrovascular disease were older than those without cerebrovascular disease in all the groups except for those with hippocampal sclerosis. After controlling for age and gender as fixed effects and centre as a random effect, we observed that α-synucleinopathies, frontotemporal lobar degeneration due to tau and TAR DNA-binding protein 43, and prion disease showed a lower prevalence of coincident cerebrovascular disease than patients with Alzheimer’s disease, and this was more significant in younger subjects. When cerebrovascular disease was also present, patients with Alzheimer’s disease and patients with α-synucleinopathy showed relatively lower burdens of their respective lesions than those without cerebrovascular disease in the context of comparable severity of dementia at time of death. Concurrent cerebrovascular disease is a common neuropathological finding in aged subjects with dementia, is more common in Alzheimer’s disease than in other neurodegenerative disorders, especially in younger subjects, and lowers the threshold for dementia due to Alzheimer’s disease and α-synucleinopathies, which suggests that these disorders should be targeted by treatments for cerebrovascular disease.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Neuroscience, Neurology, Neurodegeneration, Neurodegenerative disorders, Dementia, Frontotemporal lobar degeneration, Neurodegenerative diseases


An expanded GGGGCC repeat in a non-coding region of the C9orf72 gene is a common cause of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Non-coding repeat expansions may cause disease by reducing the expression level of the gene they reside in, by producing toxic aggregates of repeat RNA termed RNA foci, or by producing toxic proteins generated by repeat-associated non-ATG translation. We present the first definitive report of C9orf72 repeat sense and antisense RNA foci using a series of C9FTLD cases, and neurodegenerative disease and normal controls. A sensitive and specific fluorescence in situ hybridisation protocol was combined with protein immunostaining to show that both sense and antisense foci were frequent, specific to C9FTLD, and present in neurons of the frontal cortex, hippocampus and cerebellum. High-resolution imaging also allowed accurate analyses of foci number and subcellular localisation. RNA foci were most abundant in the frontal cortex, where 51 % of neurons contained foci. RNA foci also occurred in astrocytes, microglia and oligodendrocytes but to a lesser degree than in neurons. RNA foci were observed in both TDP-43- and p62-inclusion bearing neurons, but not at a greater frequency than expected by chance. RNA foci abundance in the frontal cortex showed a significant inverse correlation with age at onset of disease. These data establish that sense and antisense C9orf72 repeat RNA foci are a consistent and specific feature of C9FTLD, providing new insight into the pathogenesis of C9FTLD.

Concepts: DNA, Gene, Molecular biology, RNA, Cerebral cortex, Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Frontotemporal dementia, Frontotemporal lobar degeneration