Acta Neuropathologica

, Volume 133, Issue 2, pp 177–196 | Cite as

ALS/FTLD: experimental models and reality

  • Rachel H. Tan
  • Yazi D. Ke
  • Lars M. IttnerEmail author
  • Glenda M. HallidayEmail author


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is characterised by a loss of upper and lower motor neurons and characteristic muscle weakness and wasting, the most common form being sporadic disease with neuronal inclusions containing the tar DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43). Frontotemporal lobar degeneration is characterised by atrophy of the frontal and/or temporal lobes, the most common clinical form being the behavioural variant, in which neuronal inclusions containing either TDP-43 or 3-repeat tau are most prevalent. Although the genetic mutations associated with these diseases have allowed various experimental models to be developed, the initial genetic forms identified remain the most common models employed to date. It is now known that these first models faithfully recapitulate only some aspects of these diseases and do not represent the majority of cases or the most common overlapping pathologies. Newer models targeting the main molecular pathologies are still rare and in some instances, lack significant aspects of the molecular pathology. However, these diseases are complex and multigenic, indicating that experimental models may need to be targeted to different disease aspects. This would allow information to be gleaned from a variety of different yet relevant models, each of which has the capacity to capture a certain aspect of the disease, and together will enable a more complete understanding of these complex and multi-layered diseases.


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis C9orf72 Frontotemporal lobar degeneration Microtubule associated protein tau Superoxide dismutase 1 tar DNA-binding protein 43 



The authors wish to thank Ms. Heidi Cartwright for assistance with preparation of figures.

Compliance with ethical standards


This work was supported by funding to Forefront, a collaborative research group dedicated to the study of frontotemporal dementia and motor neurone disease, from NHMRC of Australia program Grant (#1037746) and the ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders Memory Node (#CE110001021). RT is an NHMRC-ARC Dementia Research Development Award Fellow (#APP1110369). YK is an ARC Discovery Early Career Researcher Award Fellow (#DE130101591). LI is a NHMRC Senior Research Fellow (#1003083). GH is a NHMRC Senior Principal Research Fellow (#630434).


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Neuroscience Research AustraliaRandwickAustralia
  2. 2.School of Medical SciencesUniversity of NSWSydneyAustralia
  3. 3.Brain and Mind Centre, Sydney Medical Schoolthe University of SydneySydneyAustralia
  4. 4.Motor Neuron Disease Unit, Department of Anatomy, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of NSWSydneyAustralia
  5. 5.Dementia Research Unit, Department of Anatomy, Faculty of MedicineUniversity of NSWSydneyAustralia

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