Original Paper

Acta Neuropathologica

, Volume 122, Issue 6, pp 673-690

First online:

Clinical and neuropathologic heterogeneity of c9FTD/ALS associated with hexanucleotide repeat expansion in C9ORF72

  • Melissa E. MurrayAffiliated withDepartment of Neuroscience, Mayo Clinic
  • , Mariely DeJesus-HernandezAffiliated withDepartment of Neuroscience, Mayo Clinic
  • , Nicola J. RutherfordAffiliated withDepartment of Neuroscience, Mayo Clinic
  • , Matt BakerAffiliated withDepartment of Neuroscience, Mayo Clinic
  • , Ranjan DuaraAffiliated withWien Center for Alzheimer’s Disease and Memory Disorders, Mount Sinai Medical Center
  • , Neill R. Graff-RadfordAffiliated withDepartment of Neurology, Mayo Clinic
  • , Zbigniew K. WszolekAffiliated withDepartment of Neurology, Mayo Clinic
  • , Tanis J. FermanAffiliated withDepartment of Psychology, Mayo Clinic
  • , Keith A. JosephsAffiliated withDepartment of Neurology, Mayo Clinic
    • , Kevin B. BoylanAffiliated withDepartment of Neurology, Mayo Clinic
    • , Rosa RademakersAffiliated withDepartment of Neuroscience, Mayo Clinic
    • , Dennis W. DicksonAffiliated withDepartment of Neuroscience, Mayo Clinic Email author 

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Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are part of a disease spectrum associated with TDP-43 pathology. Strong evidence supporting this is the existence of kindreds with family members affected by FTD, ALS or mixed features of FTD and ALS, referred to as FTD-MND. Some of these families have linkage to chromosome 9, with hexanucleotide expansion mutation in a noncoding region of C9ORF72. Discovery of the mutation defines c9FTD/ALS. Prior to discovery of mutations in C9ORF72, it was assumed that TDP-43 pathology in c9FTD/ALS was uniform. In this study, we examined the neuropathology and clinical features of 20 cases of c9FTD/ALS from a brain bank for neurodegenerative disorders. Included are six patients clinically diagnosed with ALS, eight FTD, one FTD-MND and four Alzheimer-type dementia. Clinical information was unavailable for one patient. Pathologically, the cases all had TDP-43 pathology, but there were three major pathologic groups: ALS, FTLD-MND and FTLD-TDP. The ALS cases were morphologically similar to typical sporadic ALS with almost no extramotor TDP-43 pathology; all had oligodendroglial cytoplasmic inclusions. The FTLD-MND showed predominantly Mackenzie Type 3 TDP-43 pathology, and all had ALS-like pathology in motor neurons, but more extensive extramotor pathology, with oligodendroglial cytoplasmic inclusions and infrequent hippocampal sclerosis. The FTLD-TDP cases had several features similar to FTLD-TDP due to mutations in the gene for progranulin, including Mackenzie Type 1 TDP-43 pathology with neuronal intranuclear inclusions and hippocampal sclerosis. FTLD-TDP patients were older and some were thought to have Alzheimer-type dementia. In addition to the FTD and ALS clinical presentations, the present study shows that c9FTD/ALS can have other presentations, possibly related to age of onset and the presence of hippocampal sclerosis. Moreover, there is pathologic heterogeneity not only between ALS and FTLD, but also within the FTLD group. Further studies are needed to address the molecular mechanism of clinical and pathological heterogeneity of c9FTD/ALS due to mutations in C9ORF72.