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Journal: Acta neuropathologica


In retired professional association football (soccer) players with a past history of repetitive head impacts, chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a potential neurodegenerative cause of dementia and motor impairments. From 1980 to 2010, 14 retired footballers with dementia were followed up regularly until death. Their clinical data, playing career, and concussion history were prospectively collected. Next-of-kin provided consent for six to have post-mortem brain examination. Of the 14 male participants, 13 were professional and 1 was a committed amateur. All were skilled headers of the ball and had played football for an average of 26 years. Concussion rate was limited in six cases to one episode each during their careers. All cases developed progressive cognitive impairment with an average age at onset of 63.6 years and disease duration of 10 years. Neuropathological examination revealed septal abnormalities in all six post-mortem cases, supportive of a history of chronic repetitive head impacts. Four cases had pathologically confirmed CTE; concomitant pathologies included Alzheimer’s disease (N = 6), TDP-43 (N = 6), cerebral amyloid angiopathy (N = 5), hippocampal sclerosis (N = 2), corticobasal degeneration (N = 1), dementia with Lewy bodies (N = 1), and vascular pathology (N = 1); and all would have contributed synergistically to the clinical manifestations. The pathological diagnosis of CTE was established in four individuals according to the latest consensus diagnostic criteria. This finding is probably related to their past prolonged exposure to repetitive head impacts from head-to-player collisions and heading the ball thousands of time throughout their careers. Alzheimer’s disease and TDP-43 pathologies are common concomitant findings in CTE, both of which are increasingly considered as part of the CTE pathological entity in older individuals. Association football is the most popular sport in the world and the potential link between repetitive head impacts from playing football and CTE as indicated from our findings is of considerable public health interest. Clearly, a definitive link cannot be established in this clinico-pathological series, but our findings support the need for further systematic investigation, including large-scale case-control studies to identify at risk groups of footballers which will justify for the implementation of protective strategies.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Pathology, Parkinson's disease, Dementia, Lewy body, Autopsy, Cerebral amyloid angiopathy, Football


Amyloid-β (Aβ) is a peptide deposited in the brain parenchyma in Alzheimer’s disease and in cerebral blood vessels, causing cerebral amyloid angiopathy (CAA). Aβ pathology is transmissible experimentally in animals and through medical procedures in humans, such as contaminated growth hormone or dura mater transplantation in the context of iatrogenic prion disease. Here, we present four patients who underwent neurosurgical procedures during childhood or teenage years and presented with intracerebral haemorrhage approximately three decades later, caused by severe CAA. None of these patients carried pathogenic mutations associated with early Aβ pathology development. In addition, we identified in the literature four patients with a history of neurosurgical intervention and subsequent development of CAA. These findings raise the possibility that Aβ pathology may be transmissible, as prion disease is, through neurosurgical procedures.

Concepts: Immune system, Brain, Stroke, Prion, Amyloid, Subarachnoid hemorrhage, Transmissible spongiform encephalopathy, Cerebral amyloid angiopathy


Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a neurodegeneration characterized by the abnormal accumulation of hyperphosphorylated tau protein within the brain. Like many other neurodegenerative conditions, at present, CTE can only be definitively diagnosed by post-mortem examination of brain tissue. As the first part of a series of consensus panels funded by the NINDS/NIBIB to define the neuropathological criteria for CTE, preliminary neuropathological criteria were used by 7 neuropathologists to blindly evaluate 25 cases of various tauopathies, including CTE, Alzheimer’s disease, progressive supranuclear palsy, argyrophilic grain disease, corticobasal degeneration, primary age-related tauopathy, and parkinsonism dementia complex of Guam. The results demonstrated that there was good agreement among the neuropathologists who reviewed the cases (Cohen’s kappa, 0.67) and even better agreement between reviewers and the diagnosis of CTE (Cohen’s kappa, 0.78). Based on these results, the panel defined the pathognomonic lesion of CTE as an accumulation of abnormal hyperphosphorylated tau (p-tau) in neurons and astroglia distributed around small blood vessels at the depths of cortical sulci and in an irregular pattern. The group also defined supportive but non-specific p-tau-immunoreactive features of CTE as: pretangles and NFTs affecting superficial layers (layers II-III) of cerebral cortex; pretangles, NFTs or extracellular tangles in CA2 and pretangles and proximal dendritic swellings in CA4 of the hippocampus; neuronal and astrocytic aggregates in subcortical nuclei; thorn-shaped astrocytes at the glial limitans of the subpial and periventricular regions; and large grain-like and dot-like structures. Supportive non-p-tau pathologies include TDP-43 immunoreactive neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions and dot-like structures in the hippocampus, anteromedial temporal cortex and amygdala. The panel also recommended a minimum blocking and staining scheme for pathological evaluation and made recommendations for future study. This study provides the first step towards the development of validated neuropathological criteria for CTE and will pave the way towards future clinical and mechanistic studies.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Neuron, Brain, Cerebral cortex, Cerebrum, Hippocampus, Progressive supranuclear palsy, Tauopathy


The gradual deterioration of cognitive functions in Alzheimer’s disease is paralleled by a hierarchical progression of amyloid-beta and tau brain pathology. Recent findings indicate that toxic oligomers of amyloid-beta may cause propagation of pathology in a prion-like manner, although the underlying mechanisms are incompletely understood. Here we show that small extracellular vesicles, exosomes, from Alzheimer patients' brains contain increased levels of amyloid-beta oligomers and can act as vehicles for the neuron-to-neuron transfer of such toxic species in recipient neurons in culture. Moreover, blocking the formation, secretion or uptake of exosomes was found to reduce both the spread of oligomers and the related toxicity. Taken together, our results imply that exosomes are centrally involved in Alzheimer’s disease and that they could serve as targets for development of new diagnostic and therapeutic principles.


The 2016 World Health Organization Classification of Tumors of the Central Nervous System is both a conceptual and practical advance over its 2007 predecessor. For the first time, the WHO classification of CNS tumors uses molecular parameters in addition to histology to define many tumor entities, thus formulating a concept for how CNS tumor diagnoses should be structured in the molecular era. As such, the 2016 CNS WHO presents major restructuring of the diffuse gliomas, medulloblastomas and other embryonal tumors, and incorporates new entities that are defined by both histology and molecular features, including glioblastoma, IDH-wildtype and glioblastoma, IDH-mutant; diffuse midline glioma, H3 K27M-mutant; RELA fusion-positive ependymoma; medulloblastoma, WNT-activated and medulloblastoma, SHH-activated; and embryonal tumour with multilayered rosettes, C19MC-altered. The 2016 edition has added newly recognized neoplasms, and has deleted some entities, variants and patterns that no longer have diagnostic and/or biological relevance. Other notable changes include the addition of brain invasion as a criterion for atypical meningioma and the introduction of a soft tissue-type grading system for the now combined entity of solitary fibrous tumor / hemangiopericytoma-a departure from the manner by which other CNS tumors are graded. Overall, it is hoped that the 2016 CNS WHO will facilitate clinical, experimental and epidemiological studies that will lead to improvements in the lives of patients with brain tumors.

Concepts: Central nervous system, Nervous system, Cancer, Brain, Oncology, Glioma, Brain tumor, Neurology


Neurofibromatosis type 1 (NF1) is a common genetic disease that predisposes 30-50 % of affected individuals to develop plexiform neurofibromas. We found that macrophage infiltration of both mouse and human neurofibromas correlates with disease progression. Macrophages accounted for almost half of neurofibroma cells, leading us to hypothesize that nerve macrophages are inflammatory effectors in neurofibroma development and/or growth. We tested the effects of PLX3397, a dual kit/fms kinase inhibitor that blocks macrophage infiltration, in the Dhh-Cre; Nf1 ( flox/flox ) mouse model of GEM grade I neurofibroma. In mice aged 1-4 months, prior to development of nerve pathology and neurofibroma formation, PLX3397 did not impair tumor initiation and increased tumor volume compared to controls. However, in mice aged 7-9 months, after tumor establishment, a subset of mice demonstrating the largest reductions in macrophages after PLX3397 exhibited cell death and tumor volume regression. Macrophages are likely to provide an initial line of defense against developing tumors. Once tumors are established, they become tumor permissive. Macrophage depletion may result in impaired tumor maintenance and represent a therapeutic strategy for neurofibroma therapy.

Concepts: Cancer, Death, Effect, Apoptosis, Neurology, Neurofibromatosis type I, Neurofibromatosis, Neurofibroma


We report a British family with young-onset Parkinson’s disease (PD) and a G51D SNCA mutation that segregates with the disease. Family history was consistent with autosomal dominant inheritance as both the father and sister of the proband developed levodopa-responsive parkinsonism with onset in their late thirties. Clinical features show similarity to those seen in families with SNCA triplication and to cases of A53T SNCA mutation. Post-mortem brain examination of the proband revealed atrophy affecting frontal and temporal lobes in addition to the caudate, putamen, globus pallidus and amygdala. There was severe loss of pigmentation in the substantia nigra and pallor of the locus coeruleus. Neuronal loss was most marked in frontal and temporal cortices, hippocampal CA2/3 subregions, substantia nigra, locus coeruleus and dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus. The cellular pathology included widespread and frequent neuronal α-synuclein immunoreactive inclusions of variable morphology and oligodendroglial inclusions similar to the glial cytoplasmic inclusions of multiple system atrophy (MSA). Both inclusion types were ubiquitin and p62 positive and were labelled with phosphorylation-dependent anti-α-synuclein antibodies In addition, TDP-43 immunoreactive inclusions were observed in limbic regions and in the striatum. Together the data show clinical and neuropathological similarities to both the A53T SNCA mutation and multiplication cases. The cellular neuropathological features of this case share some characteristics of both PD and MSA with additional unique striatal and neocortical pathology. Greater understanding of the disease mechanism underlying the G51D mutation could aid in understanding of α-synuclein biology and its impact on disease phenotype.

Concepts: Cerebral cortex, Parkinson's disease, Cerebrum, Basal ganglia, Substantia nigra, Globus pallidus, Striatum, Dopamine


Phosphorylated alpha-synuclein (p-alpha-syn) deposits, one of the neuropathological hallmarks of Parkinson’s disease (PD), have recently been detected in dermal nerve fibres in PD patients with good specificity and sensitivity. Here, we studied whether p-alpha-syn may serve as a biomarker in patients with a high risk of developing PD, such as those with REM sleep behaviour disorder (RBD). We compared the presence and distribution of p-alpha-syn deposits in dermal nerve fibres in 18 patients with RBD, 25 patients with early PD and 20 normal controls. Skin biopsy was taken at C7, Th10, and the upper and lower leg. Presynaptic dopamine transporter imaging using FP-CIT-SPECT was performed in all patients with RBD and in 11 patients with PD. All RBD patients underwent olfactory function testing. The likelihood ratio (LR) for prodromal PD was calculated for each patient based on published research criteria. Skin serial sections were assessed by double-immunofluorescence labelling with antibodies to pSer129-alpha-syn under blinded conditions. P-alpha-syn was visualized in 10/18 patients with RBD (sensitivity of 55.6%) and in 20/25 early PD patients (sensitivity of 80%) but in none of the controls (specificity of 100%). The percentage of dermal structures innervated by p-alpha-syn-positive fibres was negatively correlated with dopamine transporter binding in the FP-CIT-SPECT (ρ = -0.377, p = 0.048), with olfactory function (ρ = -0.668, p = 0.002), and positively correlated with the total LR for RBD to present prodromal PD (ρ = 0.531, p = 0.023). Dermal p-alpha-syn can be considered a peripheral histopathological marker of synucleinopathy and can be detected in a subgroup of RBD patients presumably representing prodromal PD. Dermal p-alpha-syn is detectable in RBD patients without PD motor symptoms, thereby stratifying a patient group that is of great interest for clinical trials testing disease-modifying drugs.

Concepts: Sensitivity and specificity, Parkinson's disease, Substantia nigra, Dopamine, Alpha-synuclein


Deposition of amyloid β protein (Aβ) to form neuritic plaques in the brain is the unique pathological hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease (AD). Aβ is derived from amyloid β precursor protein (APP) by β- and γ-secretase cleavages and turned over by glia in the central nervous system (CNS). Vitamin A deficiency (VAD) has been shown to affect cognitive functions. Marginal vitamin A deficiency (MVAD) is a serious and widespread public health problem among pregnant women and children in developing countries. However, the role of MVAD in the pathogenesis of AD remains elusive. Our study showed that MVAD is approximately twofold more prevalent than VAD in the elderly, and increased cognitive decline is positively correlated with lower VA levels. We found that MVAD, mostly prenatal MVAD, promotes beta-site APP cleaving enzyme 1 (BACE1)-mediated Aβ production and neuritic plaque formation, and significantly exacerbates memory deficits in AD model mice. Supplementing a therapeutic dose of VA rescued the MVAD-induced memory deficits. Taken together, our study demonstrates that MVAD facilitates AD pathogenesis and VA supplementation improves cognitive deficits. These results suggest that VA supplementation might be a potential approach for AD prevention and treatment.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Central nervous system, Nervous system, Psychology, Neuron, Brain, Cognition, Neurology


Pathological tau aggregation leads to filamentous tau inclusions and characterizes neurodegenerative tauopathies such as Alzheimer’s disease and frontotemporal dementia and parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17. Tau aggregation coincides with clinical symptoms and is thought to mediate neurodegeneration. Transgenic mice overexpressing mutant human P301S tau exhibit many neuropathological features of human tauopathies including behavioral deficits and increased mortality. Here, we show that the di-phenyl-pyrazole anle138b binds to aggregated tau and inhibits tau aggregation in vitro and in vivo. Furthermore, anle138b treatment effectively ameliorates disease symptoms, increases survival time and improves cognition of tau transgenic PS19 mice. In addition, we found decreased synapse and neuron loss accompanied by a decreased gliosis in the hippocampus. Our results suggest that reducing tau aggregates with anle138b may represent an effective and promising approach for the treatment of human tauopathies.

Concepts: Alzheimer's disease, Psychology, Neuron, Symptom, Neurology, Aggregate, In vitro, Progressive supranuclear palsy