, Volume 125, Issue 2, pp 303-310
Date: 28 Sep 2012

Mixed tau, TDP-43 and p62 pathology in FTLD associated with a C9ORF72 repeat expansion and p.Ala239Thr MAPT (tau) variant

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A massive intronic GGGGCC hexanucleotide repeat expansion in C9ORF72 has recently been identified as the most common cause of familial and sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD). We have previously demonstrated that C9ORF72 mutant cases have a specific pathological profile with abundant p62-positive, TDP-43-negative cytoplasmic and intranuclear inclusions within cerebellar granular cells of the cerebellum and pyramidal cells of the hippocampus in addition to classical TDP-43 pathology. Here, we report mixed tau and TDP-43 pathology in a woman with behavioural variant FTLD who had the C9ORF72 mutation, and the p.Ala239Thr variant in MAPT (microtubule associated protein tau) gene not previously associated with tau pathology. Two of her brothers, who carried the C9ORF72 mutation, but not the MAPT variant, developed classical ALS without symptomatic cognitive changes. The dominant neuropathology in this woman with FTLD was a tauopathy with Pick’s disease-like features. TDP-43 labelling was mainly confined to Pick bodies, but p62-positive, TDP-43-negative inclusions, characteristic of C9ORF72 mutations, were present in the cerebellum and hippocampus. Mixed pathology to this degree is unusual. One might speculate that the presence of the C9ORF72 mutation might influence tau deposition in what was previously thought to be a “benign” variant in MAPT in addition to the aggregation of TDP-43 and other as yet unidentified proteins decorated with ubiquitin and p62.

A. King and S. Al-Sarraj have made an equal contribution.