, Volume 4, Issue 2, pp 63-75

Frontotemporal lobar degeneration – tau as a pied piper?

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Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is the second most-common form of cortical dementia in the presenium after Alzheimer disease. Clinically three disease entities can be distinguished: frontotemporal dementia, semantic dementia, and primary progressive aphasia. The underlying neuropathology can be classified into disorders with tau pathology (including Pick disease, corticobasal degeneration, progressive supranuclear palsy, and familial frontotemporal dementia with parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17 – FTDP-17), and into disorders that lack tau abnormalities (including dementia lacking distinctive histology and motor neuron disease inclusion dementia). The recent discovery of tau gene mutations in FTDP-17 brought tau to the center stage, but led to the erroneous trend of collectively grouping all forms of FTLD as tauopathies. However, clinicopathological and genetic studies strongly suggest that the majority of sporadic and familial FTLD cases are not associated with tau pathology and/or tau gene mutations. Furthermore, recent studies have linked several autosomal dominantly inherited familial frontotemporal dementia cases to a variety of gene loci on different chromosomes. Thus, this review is intended to summarize our current knowledge about the sporadic and familial FTLD disorders that lack tau pathology, and shall further strengthen the view that FTLD is heterogeneous, both in terms of clinicopathological phenotypes as well as genetic backgrounds.

Electronic Publication