A large Calabrian kindred segregating frontotemporal dementia
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Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) displays significant neuropathological and genetic heterogeneity among and within affected families. An early diagnosis is often difficult because cognitive symptoms are manifest only at a late stage of the disease. We have been studying a large pedigree segregating frontotemporal dementia (FTD) to which belong 34 identified affected persons, 11 of whom were personally examined. The kindred has been genealogically reconstructed; all FTD patients have been linked to the same ancestors who lived in the early 18th century (11 generations before the present one). Autosomal dominant transmission was evident. Clinical features were uniform within the kindred and met the Lund-Manchester criteria. Personality changes with absence of insight, lack of empathy and of social awareness manifested up to 5 years before medical advice was sought. Loss of fluency was the earliest neuropsychological sign, in the absence of memory, orientation and praxis deficits, which evolved late, together with hyperorality. Akinesia was observed early, rigidity appeared late, tremor was absent. Two patients showed myoclonus late in their evolution. No ALS signs were observed in this kindred. Mutations of the MAPt gene, coding for the Tau protein, were not detected in affected family members. Linkage studies excluded chromosomes 3 and 9 and gave indeterminate results that were model dependent for chromosome 17.
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