, Volume 124, Issue 2, pp 221-230
Date: 21 Apr 2012

Distinct TDP-43 pathology in ALS patients with ataxin 2 intermediate-length polyQ expansions

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Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive, adult-onset neurodegenerative disease characterized by degeneration of motor neurons, resulting in paralysis and death. A pathological hallmark of the degenerating motor neurons in most ALS patients is the presence of cytoplasmic inclusions containing the protein TDP-43. The morphology and type of TDP-43 pathological inclusions is variable and can range from large round Lewy body-like inclusions to filamentous skein-like inclusions. The clinical significance of this variable pathology is unclear. Intermediate-length polyglutamine (polyQ) expansions in ataxin 2 were recently identified as a genetic risk factor for ALS. Here we have analyzed TDP-43 pathology in a series of ALS cases with or without ataxin 2 intermediate-length polyQ expansions. The motor neurons of ALS cases harboring ataxin 2 polyQ expansions (n = 6) contained primarily skein-like or filamentous TDP-43 pathology and only rarely, if ever, contained large round inclusions, whereas the ALS cases without ataxin 2 polyQ expansions (n = 13) contained abundant large round and skein-like TDP-43 pathology. The paucity of large round TDP-43 inclusions in ALS cases with ataxin 2 polyQ expansions suggests a distinct pathological subtype of ALS and highlights the possibility for distinct pathogenic mechanisms.