Publications by authors named "Jean-Paul Vonsattel"

161 Publications

Neuropathological correlation supports automated image-based differential diagnosis in parkinsonism.

Eur J Nucl Med Mol Imaging 2021 Apr 10. Epub 2021 Apr 10.

Center for Neurosciences, The Feinstein Institutes for Medical Research, 350 Community Drive, Manhasset, NY, 11030, USA.

Purpose: Up to 25% of patients diagnosed as idiopathic Parkinson's disease (IPD) have an atypical parkinsonian syndrome (APS). We had previously validated an automated image-based algorithm to discriminate between IPD, multiple system atrophy (MSA), and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). While the algorithm was accurate with respect to the final clinical diagnosis after long-term expert follow-up, its relationship to the initial referral diagnosis and to the neuropathological gold standard is not known.

Methods: Patients with an uncertain diagnosis of parkinsonism were referred for F-fluorodeoxyglucose (FDG) PET to classify patients as IPD or as APS based on the automated algorithm. Patients were followed by a movement disorder specialist and subsequently underwent neuropathological examination. The image-based classification was compared to the neuropathological diagnosis in 15 patients with parkinsonism.

Results: At the time of referral to PET, the clinical impression was only 66.7% accurate. The algorithm correctly identified 80% of the cases as IPD or APS (p = 0.02) and 87.5% of the APS cases as MSA or PSP (p = 0.03). The final clinical diagnosis was 93.3% accurate (p < 0.001), but needed several years of expert follow-up.

Conclusion: The image-based classifications agreed well with autopsy and can help to improve diagnostic accuracy during the period of clinical uncertainty.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00259-021-05302-6DOI Listing
April 2021

The Second NINDS/NIBIB Consensus Meeting to Define Neuropathological Criteria for the Diagnosis of Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy.

J Neuropathol Exp Neurol 2021 Feb;80(3):210-219

VA Boston Healthcare System, Boston, Massachusetts.

Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a neurodegenerative disorder associated with exposure to head trauma. In 2015, a panel of neuropathologists funded by the NINDS/NIBIB defined preliminary consensus neuropathological criteria for CTE, including the pathognomonic lesion of CTE as "an accumulation of abnormal hyperphosphorylated tau (p-tau) in neurons and astroglia distributed around small blood vessels at the depths of cortical sulci and in an irregular pattern," based on review of 25 tauopathy cases. In 2016, the consensus panel met again to review and refine the preliminary criteria, with consideration around the minimum threshold for diagnosis and the reproducibility of a proposed pathological staging scheme. Eight neuropathologists evaluated 27 cases of tauopathies (17 CTE cases), blinded to clinical and demographic information. Generalized estimating equation analyses showed a statistically significant association between the raters and CTE diagnosis for both the blinded (OR = 72.11, 95% CI = 19.5-267.0) and unblinded rounds (OR = 256.91, 95% CI = 63.6-1558.6). Based on the challenges in assigning CTE stage, the panel proposed a working protocol including a minimum threshold for CTE diagnosis and an algorithm for the assessment of CTE severity as "Low CTE" or "High CTE" for use in future clinical, pathological, and molecular studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jnen/nlab001DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7899277PMC
February 2021

Plasma p-tau181, p-tau217, and other blood-based Alzheimer's disease biomarkers in a multi-ethnic, community study.

Alzheimers Dement 2021 Feb 13. Epub 2021 Feb 13.

Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain, Vagelos College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, New York, USA.

Introduction: Blood-based Alzheimer's disease (AD) biomarkers provide opportunities for community studies and across ethnic groups. We investigated blood biomarker concentrations in the Washington Heights-Inwood Columbia Aging Project (WHICAP), a multi-ethnic community study of aging and dementia.

Methods: We measured plasma amyloid beta (Aβ)40, Aβ42, total tau (t-tau), phosphorylated tau (p-tau)181, and p-tau217, and neurofilament light chain (NfL) in 113 autopsied participants (29% with high AD neuropathological changes) and in 300 clinically evaluated individuals (42% with clinical AD). Receiver operating characteristics were used to evaluate each biomarker. We also investigated biomarkers as predictors of incident clinical AD.

Results: P-tau181, p-tau217, and NfL concentrations were elevated in pathologically and clinically diagnosed AD. Decreased Aβ42/Aβ40 ratio and increased p-tau217 and p-tau181 were associated with subsequent AD diagnosis.

Discussion: Blood-based AD biomarker concentrations are associated with pathological and clinical diagnoses and can predict future development of clinical AD, providing evidence that they can be incorporated into multi-ethnic, community-based studies.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/alz.12301DOI Listing
February 2021

Early Selective Vulnerability of the CA2 Hippocampal Subfield in Primary Age-Related Tauopathy.

J Neuropathol Exp Neurol 2021 Jan;80(2):102-111

Institute of Neurology, Medical University of Vienna, Vienna, Austria.

Primary age-related tauopathy (PART) is a neurodegenerative entity defined as Alzheimer-type neurofibrillary degeneration primarily affecting the medial temporal lobe with minimal to absent amyloid-β (Aβ) plaque deposition. The extent to which PART can be differentiated pathoanatomically from Alzheimer disease (AD) is unclear. Here, we examined the regional distribution of tau pathology in a large cohort of postmortem brains (n = 914). We found an early vulnerability of the CA2 subregion of the hippocampus to neurofibrillary degeneration in PART, and semiquantitative assessment of neurofibrillary degeneration in CA2 was significantly greater than in CA1 in PART. In contrast, subjects harboring intermediate-to-high AD neuropathologic change (ADNC) displayed relative sparing of CA2 until later stages of their disease course. In addition, the CA2/CA1 ratio of neurofibrillary degeneration in PART was significantly higher than in subjects with intermediate-to-high ADNC burden. Furthermore, the distribution of tau pathology in PART diverges from the Braak NFT staging system and Braak stage does not correlate with cognitive function in PART as it does in individuals with intermediate-to-high ADNC. These findings highlight the need for a better understanding of the contribution of PART to cognitive impairment and how neurofibrillary degeneration interacts with Aβ pathology in AD and PART.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/jnen/nlaa153DOI Listing
January 2021

Single cell RNA sequencing of human microglia uncovers a subset associated with Alzheimer's disease.

Nat Commun 2020 11 30;11(1):6129. Epub 2020 Nov 30.

Center for Translational and Computational Neuroimmunology, Columbia University Medical Center, New York, NY, USA.

The extent of microglial heterogeneity in humans remains a central yet poorly explored question in light of the development of therapies targeting this cell type. Here, we investigate the population structure of live microglia purified from human cerebral cortex samples obtained at autopsy and during neurosurgical procedures. Using single cell RNA sequencing, we find that some subsets are enriched for disease-related genes and RNA signatures. We confirm the presence of four of these microglial subpopulations histologically and illustrate the utility of our data by characterizing further microglial cluster 7, enriched for genes depleted in the cortex of individuals with Alzheimer's disease (AD). Histologically, these cluster 7 microglia are reduced in frequency in AD tissue, and we validate this observation in an independent set of single nucleus data. Thus, our live human microglia identify a range of subtypes, and we prioritize one of these as being altered in AD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-020-19737-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7704703PMC
November 2020

Pathogenic Huntingtin Repeat Expansions in Patients with Frontotemporal Dementia and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis.

Neuron 2021 02 26;109(3):448-460.e4. Epub 2020 Nov 26.

Molecular Markers Laboratory, IRCCS Istituto Centro San Giovanni di Dio Fatebenefratelli, Brescia 25125, Italy; MAC Memory Clinic, IRCCS Istituto Centro San Giovanni di Dio Fatebenefratelli, Brescia 25125, Italy.

We examined the role of repeat expansions in the pathogenesis of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) by analyzing whole-genome sequence data from 2,442 FTD/ALS patients, 2,599 Lewy body dementia (LBD) patients, and 3,158 neurologically healthy subjects. Pathogenic expansions (range, 40-64 CAG repeats) in the huntingtin (HTT) gene were found in three (0.12%) patients diagnosed with pure FTD/ALS syndromes but were not present in the LBD or healthy cohorts. We replicated our findings in an independent collection of 3,674 FTD/ALS patients. Postmortem evaluations of two patients revealed the classical TDP-43 pathology of FTD/ALS, as well as huntingtin-positive, ubiquitin-positive aggregates in the frontal cortex. The neostriatal atrophy that pathologically defines Huntington's disease was absent in both cases. Our findings reveal an etiological relationship between HTT repeat expansions and FTD/ALS syndromes and indicate that genetic screening of FTD/ALS patients for HTT repeat expansions should be considered.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.neuron.2020.11.005DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7864894PMC
February 2021

Disease-related Huntingtin seeding activities in cerebrospinal fluids of Huntington's disease patients.

Sci Rep 2020 11 20;10(1):20295. Epub 2020 Nov 20.

Center for Neurobehavioral Genetics, The Jane and Terry Semel Institute for Neuroscience & Human Behavior, University of California, Los Angeles, Los Angeles, USA.

In Huntington's disease (HD), the mutant Huntingtin (mHTT) is postulated to mediate template-based aggregation that can propagate across cells. It has been difficult to quantitatively detect such pathological seeding activities in patient biosamples, e.g. cerebrospinal fluids (CSF), and study their correlation with the disease manifestation. Here we developed a cell line expressing a domain-engineered mHTT-exon 1 reporter, which showed remarkably high sensitivity and specificity in detecting mHTT seeding species in HD patient biosamples. We showed that the seeding-competent mHTT species in HD CSF are significantly elevated upon disease onset and with the progression of neuropathological grades. Mechanistically, we showed that mHTT seeding activities in patient CSF could be ameliorated by the overexpression of chaperone DNAJB6 and by antibodies against the polyproline domain of mHTT. Together, our study developed a selective and scalable cell-based tool to investigate mHTT seeding activities in HD CSF, and demonstrated that the CSF mHTT seeding species are significantly associated with certain disease states. This seeding activity can be ameliorated by targeting specific domain or proteostatic pathway of mHTT, providing novel insights into such pathological activities.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41598-020-77164-1DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7679413PMC
November 2020

Authors' replies to the comments of Koga et al. on "Movement disorders rounds: A case of missing pathology in a patient with LRRK2 Parkinson's disease".

Parkinsonism Relat Disord 2020 Sep 5. Epub 2020 Sep 5.

Department of Neurology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University Medical Center, 710 West 168th Street, New York, NY, 10032, USA. Electronic address:

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.parkreldis.2020.08.037DOI Listing
September 2020

Patterns of CAG repeat instability in the central nervous system and periphery in Huntington's disease and in spinocerebellar ataxia type 1.

Hum Mol Genet 2020 08;29(15):2551-2567

Molecular Neurogenetics Unit, Center for Genomic Medicine, Massachusetts General Hospital, Boston, MA 02114, USA.

The expanded HTT CAG repeat causing Huntington's disease (HD) exhibits somatic expansion proposed to drive the rate of disease onset by eliciting a pathological process that ultimately claims vulnerable cells. To gain insight into somatic expansion in humans, we performed comprehensive quantitative analyses of CAG expansion in ~50 central nervous system (CNS) and peripheral postmortem tissues from seven adult-onset and one juvenile-onset HD individual. We also assessed ATXN1 CAG repeat expansion in brain regions of an individual with a neurologically and pathologically distinct repeat expansion disorder, spinocerebellar ataxia type 1 (SCA1). Our findings reveal similar profiles of tissue instability in all HD individuals, which, notably, were also apparent in the SCA1 individual. CAG expansion was observed in all tissues, but to different degrees, with multiple cortical regions and neostriatum tending to have the greatest instability in the CNS, and liver in the periphery. These patterns indicate different propensities for CAG expansion contributed by disease locus-independent trans-factors and demonstrate that expansion per se is not sufficient to cause cell type or disease-specific pathology. Rather, pathology may reflect distinct toxic processes triggered by different repeat lengths across cell types and diseases. We also find that the HTT CAG length-dependent expansion propensity of an individual is reflected in all tissues and in cerebrospinal fluid. Our data indicate that peripheral cells may be a useful source to measure CAG expansion in biomarker assays for therapeutic efforts, prompting efforts to dissect underlying mechanisms of expansion that may differ between the brain and periphery.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/hmg/ddaa139DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7471505PMC
August 2020

Early-Onset Parkinsonism Is a Manifestation of the PPP2R5D p.E200K Mutation.

Ann Neurol 2020 11 22;88(5):1028-1033. Epub 2020 Aug 22.

Department of Pediatrics, College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University, New York, NY, USA.

PPP2R5D-related neurodevelopmental disorder is characterized by a range of neurodevelopmental and behavioral manifestations. We report the association of early-onset parkinsonism with the PPP2R5D p.E200K mutation. Clinical characterization and exome sequencing were performed on three patients, with postmortem neuropathologic examination for one patient. All patients had mild developmental delay and developed levodopa-responsive parkinsonism between the ages of 25 and 40 years. The PPP2R5D c.598G>A (p.E200K) mutation was identified in all patients. Neuropathologic examination demonstrated uneven, focally severe neuronal loss and gliosis in the substantia nigra pars compacta, without Lewy bodies. Our findings suggest the PPP2R5D p.E200K mutation to be a possible new cause of early-onset parkinsonism. ANN NEUROL 2020;88:1028-1033.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/ana.25863DOI Listing
November 2020

Evidence for the spread of human-derived mutant huntingtin protein in mice and non-human primates.

Neurobiol Dis 2020 07 11;141:104941. Epub 2020 May 11.

Centre de Recherche du CHU de Québec - Université Laval, Axe Neurosciences, Québec, QC G1V 4G2, Canada; Département de Psychiatrie & Neurosciences, Université Laval, Québec, QC G1K 0A6, Canada. Electronic address:

In recent years, substantial evidence has emerged to suggest that spreading of pathological proteins contributes to disease pathology in numerous neurodegenerative disorders. Work from our laboratory and others have shown that, despite its strictly genetic nature, Huntington's disease (HD) may be another condition in which this mechanism contributes to pathology. In this study, we set out to determine if the mutant huntingtin protein (mHTT) present in post-mortem brain tissue derived from HD patients can induce pathology in mice and/or non-human primates. For this, we performed three distinct sets of experiments where homogenates were injected into the brains of adult a) Wild-type (WT) and b) BACHD mice or c) non-human primates. Neuropathological assessments revealed that, while changes in the endogenous huntingtin were not apparent, mHTT could spread between cellular elements and brain structures. Furthermore, behavioural differences only occurred in the animal model of HD which already overexpressed mHTT. Taken together, our results indicate that mHTT derived from human brains has only a limited capacity to propagate between cells and does not depict prion-like characteristics. This contrasts with recent work demonstrating that other forms of mHTT - such as fibrils of a pathological polyQ length or fibroblasts and induced pluripotent stem cells derived from HD cases - can indeed disseminate disease throughout the brain in a prion-like fashion.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.nbd.2020.104941DOI Listing
July 2020

Genetic Risk Underlying Psychiatric and Cognitive Symptoms in Huntington's Disease.

Biol Psychiatry 2020 05 17;87(9):857-865. Epub 2019 Dec 17.

Department of Neurology, University of Ulm, Ulm, Germany.

Background: Huntington's disease (HD) is an inherited neurodegenerative disorder caused by an expanded CAG repeat in the HTT gene. It is diagnosed following a standardized examination of motor control and often presents with cognitive decline and psychiatric symptoms. Recent studies have detected genetic loci modifying the age at onset of motor symptoms in HD, but genetic factors influencing cognitive and psychiatric presentations are unknown.

Methods: We tested the hypothesis that psychiatric and cognitive symptoms in HD are influenced by the same common genetic variation as in the general population by 1) constructing polygenic risk scores from large genome-wide association studies of psychiatric and neurodegenerative disorders and of intelligence and 2) testing for correlation with the presence of psychiatric and cognitive symptoms in a large sample (n = 5160) of patients with HD.

Results: Polygenic risk score for major depression was associated specifically with increased risk of depression in HD, as was schizophrenia risk score with psychosis and irritability. Cognitive impairment and apathy were associated with reduced polygenic risk score for intelligence.

Conclusions: Polygenic risk scores for psychiatric disorders, particularly depression and schizophrenia, are associated with increased risk of the corresponding psychiatric symptoms in HD, suggesting a common genetic liability. However, the genetic liability to cognitive impairment and apathy appears to be distinct from other psychiatric symptoms in HD. No associations were observed between HD symptoms and risk scores for other neurodegenerative disorders. These data provide a rationale for treatments effective in depression and schizophrenia to be used to treat depression and psychotic symptoms in HD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.biopsych.2019.12.010DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7156911PMC
May 2020

Single-nucleus RNA-seq identifies Huntington disease astrocyte states.

Acta Neuropathol Commun 2020 02 18;8(1):19. Epub 2020 Feb 18.

Department of Pathology & Cell Biology, Columbia University, New York City, NY, USA.

Huntington Disease (HD) is an inherited movement disorder caused by expanded CAG repeats in the Huntingtin gene. We have used single nucleus RNASeq (snRNASeq) to uncover cellular phenotypes that change in the disease, investigating single cell gene expression in cingulate cortex of patients with HD and comparing the gene expression to that of patients with no neurological disease. In this study, we focused on astrocytes, although we found significant gene expression differences in neurons, oligodendrocytes, and microglia as well. In particular, the gene expression profiles of astrocytes in HD showed multiple signatures, varying in phenotype from cells that had markedly upregulated metallothionein and heat shock genes, but had not completely lost the expression of genes associated with normal protoplasmic astrocytes, to astrocytes that had substantially upregulated glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) and had lost expression of many normal protoplasmic astrocyte genes as well as metallothionein genes. When compared to astrocytes in control samples, astrocyte signatures in HD also showed downregulated expression of a number of genes, including several associated with protoplasmic astrocyte function and lipid synthesis. Thus, HD astrocytes appeared in variable transcriptional phenotypes, and could be divided into several different "states", defined by patterns of gene expression. Ultimately, this study begins to fill the knowledge gap of single cell gene expression in HD and provide a more detailed understanding of the variation in changes in gene expression during astrocyte "reactions" to the disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40478-020-0880-6DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7029580PMC
February 2020

Exceptionally low likelihood of Alzheimer's dementia in APOE2 homozygotes from a 5,000-person neuropathological study.

Nat Commun 2020 02 3;11(1):667. Epub 2020 Feb 3.

Department of Epidemiology, University of Washington, 1959 NE Pacific Street, Seattle, WA, 98195, USA.

Each additional copy of the apolipoprotein E4 (APOE4) allele is associated with a higher risk of Alzheimer's dementia, while the APOE2 allele is associated with a lower risk of Alzheimer's dementia, it is not yet known whether APOE2 homozygotes have a particularly low risk. We generated Alzheimer's dementia odds ratios and other findings in more than 5,000 clinically characterized and neuropathologically characterized Alzheimer's dementia cases and controls. APOE2/2 was associated with a low Alzheimer's dementia odds ratios compared to APOE2/3 and 3/3, and an exceptionally low odds ratio compared to APOE4/4, and the impact of APOE2 and APOE4 gene dose was significantly greater in the neuropathologically confirmed group than in more than 24,000 neuropathologically unconfirmed cases and controls. Finding and targeting the factors by which APOE and its variants influence Alzheimer's disease could have a major impact on the understanding, treatment and prevention of the disease.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41467-019-14279-8DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6997393PMC
February 2020

Fulminant corticobasal degeneration: a distinct variant with predominant neuronal tau aggregates.

Acta Neuropathol 2020 04 16;139(4):717-734. Epub 2020 Jan 16.

Queen Square Brain Bank for Neurological Disorders, UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology, University College London, 1 Wakefield Street, London, WC1N 1PJ, UK.

Corticobasal degeneration typically progresses gradually over 5-7 years from onset till death. Fulminant corticobasal degeneration cases with a rapidly progressive course were rarely reported (RP-CBD). This study aimed to investigate their neuropathological characteristics. Of the 124 autopsy-confirmed corticobasal degeneration cases collected from 14 centres, we identified 6 RP-CBD cases (4.8%) who died of advanced disease within 3 years of onset. These RP-CBD cases had different clinical phenotypes including rapid global cognitive decline (N = 2), corticobasal syndrome (N = 2) and Richardson's syndrome (N = 2). We also studied four corticobasal degeneration cases with an average disease duration of 3 years or less, who died of another unrelated illness (Intermediate-CBD). Finally, we selected 12 age-matched corticobasal degeneration cases out of a cohort of 110, who had a typical gradually progressive course and reached advanced clinical stage (End-stage-CBD). Quantitative analysis showed high overall tau burden (p = 0.2) and severe nigral cell loss (p = 0.47) in both the RP-CBD and End-stage-CBD groups consistent with advanced pathological changes, while the Intermediate-CBD group (mean disease duration = 3 years) had milder changes than End-stage-CBD (p < 0.05). These findings indicated that RP-CBD cases had already developed advanced pathological changes as those observed in End-stage-CBD cases (mean disease duration = 6.7 years), but within a significantly shorter duration (2.5 years; p < 0.001). Subgroup analysis was performed to investigate the cellular patterns of tau aggregates in the anterior frontal cortex and caudate by comparing neuronal-to-astrocytic plaque ratios between six RP-CBD cases, four Intermediate-CBD and 12 age-matched End-stage-CBD. Neuronal-to-astrocytic plaque ratios of Intermediate-CBD and End-stage-CBD, but not RP-CBD, positively correlated with disease duration in both the anterior frontal cortex and caudate (p = 0.02). In contrast to the predominance of astrocytic plaques we previously reported in preclinical asymptomatic corticobasal degeneration cases, neuronal tau aggregates predominated in RP-CBD exceeding those in Intermediate-CBD (anterior frontal cortex: p < 0.001, caudate: p = 0.001) and End-stage-CBD (anterior frontal cortex: p = 0.03, caudate: p = 0.01) as demonstrated by its higher neuronal-to-astrocytic plaque ratios in both anterior frontal cortex and caudate. We did not identify any difference in age at onset, any pathogenic tau mutation or concomitant pathologies that could have contributed to the rapid progression of these RP-CBD cases. Mild TDP-43 pathology was observed in three RP-CBD cases. All RP-CBD cases were men. The MAPT H2 haplotype, known to be protective, was identified in one RP-CBD case (17%) and 8 of the matched End-stage-CBD cases (67%). We conclude that RP-CBD is a distinct aggressive variant of corticobasal degeneration with characteristic neuropathological substrates resulting in a fulminant disease process as evident both clinically and pathologically. Biological factors such as genetic modifiers likely play a pivotal role in the RP-CBD variant and should be the subject of future research.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00401-019-02119-4DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7096362PMC
April 2020

Cerebellar oscillations driven by synaptic pruning deficits of cerebellar climbing fibers contribute to tremor pathophysiology.

Sci Transl Med 2020 01;12(526)

Department of Neurology, Columbia University, New York, NY 10032, USA.

Essential tremor (ET) is one of the most common movement disorders and the prototypical disorder for abnormal rhythmic movements. However, the pathophysiology of tremor generation in ET remains unclear. Here, we used autoptic cerebral tissue from patients with ET, clinical data, and mouse models to report that synaptic pruning deficits of climbing fiber (CF)-to-Purkinje cell (PC) synapses, which are related to glutamate receptor delta 2 (GluRδ2) protein insufficiency, cause excessive cerebellar oscillations and might be responsible for tremor. The CF-PC synaptic pruning deficits were correlated with the reduction in GluRδ2 expression in the postmortem ET cerebellum. Mice with GluRδ2 insufficiency and CF-PC synaptic pruning deficits develop ET-like tremor that can be suppressed with viral rescue of GluRδ2 protein. Step-by-step optogenetic or pharmacological inhibition of neuronal firing, axonal activity, or synaptic vesicle release confirmed that the activity of the excessive CF-to-PC synapses is required for tremor generation. In vivo electrophysiology in mice showed that excessive cerebellar oscillatory activity is CF dependent and necessary for tremor and optogenetic-driven PC synchronization was sufficient to generate tremor in wild-type animals. Human validation by cerebellar electroencephalography confirmed that excessive cerebellar oscillations also exist in patients with ET. Our findings identify a pathophysiologic contribution to tremor at molecular (GluRδ2), structural (CF-to-PC synapses), physiological (cerebellar oscillations), and behavioral levels (kinetic tremor) that might have clinical applications for treating ET.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1126/scitranslmed.aay1769DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7339589PMC
January 2020

Multiple System Atrophy With Predominant Striatonigral Degeneration and TAR DNA-Binding Protein of 43 kDa Pathology: An Unusual Variant of Multiple System Atrophy.

Mov Disord Clin Pract 2019 Nov 6;6(8):661-666. Epub 2019 Sep 6.

Department of Pathology Columbia University Medical Center New York New York USA.

Background: The pathological hallmark in MSA is oligodendrocytic glial cytoplasmic inclusions (GCIs) containing α-synuclein, in addition to neuronal loss and astrogliosis especially involving the striatonigral and olivopontocerebellar systems. Rarely, TAR DNA-binding protein of 43 kDa (TDP-43), a component of ubiquitinated inclusions observed mainly in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and frontotemporal lobar degeneration has been demonstrated in cases of MSA and, more recently, was shown to colocalize with α-synuclein pathology in GCIs in 2 patients.

Methods: A 66-year-old woman presented with a syndrome characterized by spasticity, dysautonomia, bulbar dysfunction, and parkinsonism. Symptoms progressed until her death at age 74. Neuropathological evaluation was performed at the New York Brain Bank at Columbia University.

Results: On gross examination, there was striking severe volume loss of the left striatum compared to mild involvement of the right striatum. Microscopically, neuronal loss and gliosis of the putamen and globus pallidus were severe on the left side, in contrast to mild involvement on the right side. Immunohistochemistry for α-synuclein revealed widespread GCIs. The sections subjected to TDP-43 antibodies showed a few GCIs with definite nucleocytoplasmic translocation of the labeling within the lenticular nucleus and within the paracentral cortex.

Conclusions: This report adds to the evidence that TDP-43 and α-synuclein colocalize in GCIs. Whether this coexistence contributes to the pathogenesis of a subset of MSA patients or is an age-related process is not known. More cases with these peculiar pathological hallmarks might help determine whether TDP-43 contributes to neurodegeneration in a subset of patients with MSA.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/mdc3.12823DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6856463PMC
November 2019

Movement disorders rounds: A case of missing pathology in a patient with LRRK2 Parkinson's disease.

Parkinsonism Relat Disord 2020 05 9;74:76-77. Epub 2019 Nov 9.

Department of Neurology, Columbia University College of Physicians and Surgeons, Columbia University Medical Center, 710 West 168th Street, New York, NY, 10032, USA. Electronic address:

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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/j.parkreldis.2019.11.006DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7374981PMC
May 2020

A soluble truncated tau species related to cognitive dysfunction and caspase-2 is elevated in the brain of Huntington's disease patients.

Acta Neuropathol Commun 2019 07 30;7(1):111. Epub 2019 Jul 30.

Departments of Neurology, University of Minnesota, Minneapolis, MN, 55455, USA.

Huntington's disease (HD) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease. Involuntary movements, cognitive impairment and psychiatric disturbance are the major clinical manifestations, and gradual atrophy and selective neuronal loss in the striatum and cerebral cortex are the pathologic hallmarks. HD is caused by expanded CAG trinucleotide repeats at the N-terminus of IT15 that encodes the huntingtin (HTT) protein, though the molecular mechanisms through which the mutant HTT (mHTT) exerts toxic effects remain obscure. Members of the caspase family, including caspase-2 (Casp2), play an important role in HD pathogenesis. Genetic ablation of Casp2 ameliorates cognitive and motor deficits of HD mice, though the molecular targets of Casp2 are still unclear. It is well established that the microtubule-associated protein tau potentiates cognitive dysfunction in a variety of neurodegenerative disorders, including HD. Our recent study indicates that Casp2-catalyzed tau cleavage at aspartate 314 (tau 2N4R isoform numbering system) mediates synaptotoxicity, cognitive deficits and neurodegeneration in cellular and mouse models of frontotemporal dementia; further, levels of Δtau314, the soluble, N-terminal cleavage product, are elevated in individuals with mild cognitive impairment and Alzheimer's disease, compared with cognitively normal individuals. Here, we identified the presence of Δtau314 proteins in the striatum (caudate nucleus) and prefrontal cortex (Brodmann's area 8/9) of human subjects, and showed that in both structures, levels of Casp2 and Δtau314 proteins correlate well, and both proteins are higher in HD patients than non-HD individuals. Our findings advance our understanding of the contribution of Casp2-mediated Δtau314 production to HD pathogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1186/s40478-019-0764-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6664763PMC
July 2019

C9orf72 intermediate repeats are associated with corticobasal degeneration, increased C9orf72 expression and disruption of autophagy.

Acta Neuropathol 2019 11 20;138(5):795-811. Epub 2019 Jul 20.

Translational Neuropathology Research Laboratory, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, University of Pennsylvania, 613A Stellar Chance Laboratories, 422 Curie Blvd, Philadelphia, PA, 19104, USA.

Microsatellite repeat expansion disease loci can exhibit pleiotropic clinical and biological effects depending on repeat length. Large expansions in C9orf72 (100s-1000s of units) are the most common genetic cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal degeneration (FTD). However, whether intermediate expansions also contribute to neurodegenerative disease is not well understood. Several studies have identified intermediate repeats in Parkinson's disease patients, but the association was not found in autopsy-confirmed cases. We hypothesized that intermediate C9orf72 repeats are a genetic risk factor for corticobasal degeneration (CBD), a neurodegenerative disease that can be clinically similar to Parkinson's but has distinct tau protein pathology. Indeed, intermediate C9orf72 repeats were significantly enriched in autopsy-proven CBD (n = 354 cases, odds ratio = 3.59, p = 0.00024). While large C9orf72 repeat expansions are known to decrease C9orf72 expression, intermediate C9orf72 repeats result in increased C9orf72 expression in human brain tissue and CRISPR/cas9 knockin iPSC-derived neural progenitor cells. In contrast to cases of FTD/ALS with large C9orf72 expansions, CBD with intermediate C9orf72 repeats was not associated with pathologic RNA foci or dipeptide repeat protein aggregates. Knock-in cells with intermediate repeats exhibit numerous changes in gene expression pathways relating to vesicle trafficking and autophagy. Additionally, overexpression of C9orf72 without the repeat expansion leads to defects in autophagy under nutrient starvation conditions. These results raise the possibility that therapeutic strategies to reduce C9orf72 expression may be beneficial for the treatment of CBD.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00401-019-02045-5DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6802287PMC
November 2019

Contextualizing the pathology in the essential tremor cerebellar cortex: a patholog-omics approach.

Acta Neuropathol 2019 11 17;138(5):859-876. Epub 2019 Jul 17.

Department of Pathology and Cell Biology, Columbia University Irving Medical Center and the New York Presbyterian Hospital, 622 West 168th Street, PH Stem 1564, New York, NY, 10032, USA.

Several morphological changes, centered in/around Purkinje cells (PCs), have been identified in the cerebellum of essential tremor (ET) patients. These changes have not been contextualized within a broader degenerative disease spectrum, limiting their interpretability. To address this, we compared the severity and patterning of degenerative changes within the cerebellar cortex in patients with ET, other neurodegenerative disorders of the cerebellum (spinocerebellar ataxias (SCAs), multiple system atrophy (MSA)], and other disorders that may involve the cerebellum [Parkinson's disease (PD), dystonia]. Using a postmortem series of 156 brains [50 ET, 23 SCA (6 SCA3; 17 SCA 1, 2 or 6), 15 MSA, 29 PD, 14 dystonia, 25 controls], we generated data on 37 quantitative morphologic metrics, which were grouped into 8 broad categories: (1) PC loss, (2) heterotopic PCs, (3) PC dendritic changes, (4) PC axonal changes (torpedoes), (5) PC axonal changes (other than torpedoes), (6) PC axonal changes (torpedo-associated), (7) basket cell axonal hypertrophy, (8) climbing fiber-PC synaptic changes. Our analyses used z scored raw data for each metric across all diagnoses (5772 total data items). Principal component analysis revealed that diagnostic groups were not uniform with respect to cerebellar pathology. Dystonia and PD each differed from controls in only 2/37 metrics, whereas ET differed in 21, SCA3 in 8, MSA in 19, and SCA1/2/6 in 26 metrics. Comparing ET with primary disorders of cerebellar degeneration (i.e., SCAs), we observed a spectrum of changes reflecting differences of degree, being generally mild in ET and SCA3 and more severe in SCA1/2/6. Comparative analyses across morphologic categories demonstrated differences in relative expression, defining distinctive patterns of changes in these groups. Thus, the degree of cerebellar degeneration in ET aligns it with a milder end in the spectrum of cerebellar degenerative disorders, and a somewhat distinctive signature of degenerative changes marks each of these disorders.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00401-019-02043-7DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7285399PMC
November 2019

Genetic meta-analysis of diagnosed Alzheimer's disease identifies new risk loci and implicates Aβ, tau, immunity and lipid processing.

Nat Genet 2019 03 28;51(3):414-430. Epub 2019 Feb 28.

Research Center and Memory Clinic of Fundació ACE, Institut Català de Neurociències Aplicades-Universitat Internacional de Catalunya, Barcelona, Spain.

Risk for late-onset Alzheimer's disease (LOAD), the most prevalent dementia, is partially driven by genetics. To identify LOAD risk loci, we performed a large genome-wide association meta-analysis of clinically diagnosed LOAD (94,437 individuals). We confirm 20 previous LOAD risk loci and identify five new genome-wide loci (IQCK, ACE, ADAM10, ADAMTS1, and WWOX), two of which (ADAM10, ACE) were identified in a recent genome-wide association (GWAS)-by-familial-proxy of Alzheimer's or dementia. Fine-mapping of the human leukocyte antigen (HLA) region confirms the neurological and immune-mediated disease haplotype HLA-DR15 as a risk factor for LOAD. Pathway analysis implicates immunity, lipid metabolism, tau binding proteins, and amyloid precursor protein (APP) metabolism, showing that genetic variants affecting APP and Aβ processing are associated not only with early-onset autosomal dominant Alzheimer's disease but also with LOAD. Analyses of risk genes and pathways show enrichment for rare variants (P = 1.32 × 10), indicating that additional rare variants remain to be identified. We also identify important genetic correlations between LOAD and traits such as family history of dementia and education.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1038/s41588-019-0358-2DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6463297PMC
March 2019

Genome-wide analyses as part of the international FTLD-TDP whole-genome sequencing consortium reveals novel disease risk factors and increases support for immune dysfunction in FTLD.

Acta Neuropathol 2019 06 9;137(6):879-899. Epub 2019 Feb 9.

German Center for Neurodegenerative Diseases (DZNE), 18147, Rostock, Germany.

Frontotemporal lobar degeneration with neuronal inclusions of the TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (FTLD-TDP) represents the most common pathological subtype of FTLD. We established the international FTLD-TDP whole-genome sequencing consortium to thoroughly characterize the known genetic causes of FTLD-TDP and identify novel genetic risk factors. Through the study of 1131 unrelated Caucasian patients, we estimated that C9orf72 repeat expansions and GRN loss-of-function mutations account for 25.5% and 13.9% of FTLD-TDP patients, respectively. Mutations in TBK1 (1.5%) and other known FTLD genes (1.4%) were rare, and the disease in 57.7% of FTLD-TDP patients was unexplained by the known FTLD genes. To unravel the contribution of common genetic factors to the FTLD-TDP etiology in these patients, we conducted a two-stage association study comprising the analysis of whole-genome sequencing data from 517 FTLD-TDP patients and 838 controls, followed by targeted genotyping of the most associated genomic loci in 119 additional FTLD-TDP patients and 1653 controls. We identified three genome-wide significant FTLD-TDP risk loci: one new locus at chromosome 7q36 within the DPP6 gene led by rs118113626 (p value = 4.82e - 08, OR = 2.12), and two known loci: UNC13A, led by rs1297319 (p value = 1.27e - 08, OR = 1.50) and HLA-DQA2 led by rs17219281 (p value = 3.22e - 08, OR = 1.98). While HLA represents a locus previously implicated in clinical FTLD and related neurodegenerative disorders, the association signal in our study is independent from previously reported associations. Through inspection of our whole-genome sequence data for genes with an excess of rare loss-of-function variants in FTLD-TDP patients (n ≥ 3) as compared to controls (n = 0), we further discovered a possible role for genes functioning within the TBK1-related immune pathway (e.g., DHX58, TRIM21, IRF7) in the genetic etiology of FTLD-TDP. Together, our study based on the largest cohort of unrelated FTLD-TDP patients assembled to date provides a comprehensive view of the genetic landscape of FTLD-TDP, nominates novel FTLD-TDP risk loci, and strongly implicates the immune pathway in FTLD-TDP pathogenesis.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s00401-019-01962-9DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6533145PMC
June 2019

Biological and clinical manifestations of juvenile Huntington's disease: a retrospective analysis.

Lancet Neurol 2018 11 19;17(11):986-993. Epub 2018 Sep 19.

Huntington and Rare Diseases Unit, Fondazione IRCCS Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza, San Giovanni Rotondo, Italy. Electronic address:

Background: Huntington's disease is a rare, neurodegenerative disease caused by an expanded CAG repeat mutation in the huntingtin gene. Compared with adult-onset Huntington's disease, juvenile Huntington's disease (onset ≤20 years) is even rarer and has not been studied extensively. We aimed to further characterise juvenile Huntington's disease by examining the effect of CAG repeat size on disease presentation, progression, and survival.

Methods: We did a retrospective analysis of patients with juvenile Huntington's disease aged 20 years or younger, according to the length of their CAG repeat and who had disabling psychiatric symptoms (with motor symptoms) or motor symptoms alone, and of patients with adult-onset Huntington's disease manifesting aged 30-60 years with 40 or more CAG repeats, from the REGISTRY and ENROLL-HD platforms and from two institutional databases (Lega Italiana Ricerca Huntington Foundation and the Instituto Neurociencias de Buenos Aires and the Sanatorio de la Trinidad Mitre). Patients with psychiatric but no motor symptoms were excluded. We compared symptoms at onset and longitudinally in patients with juvenile Huntington's disease with highly expanded (HE subgroup) or low expansion (LE subgroup) mutations, grouped by hierarchical clustering analysis. We also compared disease progression (longitudinal change in Unified Huntington's Disease Rating Scale-Total Motor Score) and survival of patients with juvenile and adult-onset Huntington's disease.

Findings: We extracted medical records from 580 patients entered into the studies or databases between June 23, 2004, and March 31, 2018, of whom 36 patients met our definition of juvenile Huntington's disease and 197 for adult-onset Huntington's disease. According to caregiver reports, gait disturbance was more often a first presenting symptom in the HE subgroup (eight [80%] of 10 patients) than in the LE subgroup (seven [27%] of 26 patients; p=0·0071), whereas loss of hand dexterity was more common in the LE subgroup (11 [42%] of 26 patients) than in the HE subgroup (0 [0%] of 10 patients; p=0·0160). Compared with the LE subgroup, development delay (0 [0%] in the LE subgroup vs nine [90%] in the HE subgroup; p<0·0001), severe gait impairment (nine [35%] in the LE subgroup vs nine [90%] in the HE subgroup; p=0·0072), and seizures (three [11%] in the LE subgroup vs eight [80%] in the HE subgroup; p<0·0001) prevailed over time in the HE subgroup. Disease progression was more rapid in juvenile Huntington's disease (n=14) than in adult-onset Huntington's disease (n=52; generalised estimating equation model, p=0·0003). Of 121 deceased patients, median survival was shorter in the juvenile Huntington's disease (n=17) cohort than in adult-onset Huntington's disease (n=104) cohort (hazard ratio 2·18 [95% CI 1·08-4·40]; p=0·002).

Interpretation: Patients with HE juvenile Huntington's disease differ clinically from patients with LE juvenile Huntington's disease or adult-onset Huntington's disease, suggesting reclassification of this particularly aggressive form of Huntington's disease might be required.

Funding: Lega Italiana Ricerca Huntington Foundation and IRCCS Ospedale Casa Sollievo della Sofferenza.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1016/S1474-4422(18)30294-1DOI Listing
November 2018

Banking brains: a pre-mortem "how to" guide to successful donation.

Cell Tissue Bank 2018 Dec 15;19(4):473-488. Epub 2018 Sep 15.

Division of Movement Disorders, Department of Neurology, Yale School of Medicine, Yale University, New Haven, CT, USA.

A review of the brain banking literature reveals a primary focus either on the factors that influence the decision to become a future donor or on the brain tissue processing that takes place after the individual has died (i.e., the front-end or back-end processes). What has not been sufficiently detailed, however, is the complex and involved process that takes place after this decision to become a future donor is made yet before post-mortem processing occurs (i.e., the large middle-ground). This generally represents a period of many years during which the brain bank is actively engaged with donors to ensure that valuable clinical information is prospectively collected and that their donation is eventually completed. For the past 15 years, the Essential Tremor Centralized Brain Repository has been actively involved in brain banking, and our experience has provided us valuable insights that may be useful for researchers interested in establishing their own brain banking efforts. In this piece, we fill a gap in the literature by detailing the processes of enrolling participants, creating individualized brain donation plans, collecting clinical information and regularly following-up with donors to update that information, and efficiently coordinating the brain harvest when death finally arrives.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1007/s10561-018-9720-3DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6279548PMC
December 2018

An MRI measure of degenerative and cerebrovascular pathology in Alzheimer disease.

Neurology 2018 10 14;91(15):e1402-e1412. Epub 2018 Sep 14.

From the Taub Institute for Research on Alzheimer's Disease and the Aging Brain (A.M.B., G.T., H.A., Y.G., A.N., B.R., V.G., J.J.M., J.P.V., N.S., R.M.), The Gertrude H. Sergievsky Center (A.M.B., G.T., H.A., Y.G., J.J.M., N.S., R.M.), and the Departments of Neurology (A.M.B., G.T., J.G., Y.G., J.J.M., N.S., R.M.), Pathology and Cell Biology (J.P.V.), and Psychiatry (R.M.), College of Physicians and Surgeons, and Departments of Biostatistics (H.A.) and Epidemiology (N.S., R.M.), Mailman School of Public Health, Columbia University, New York, NY.

Objective: To develop, replicate, and validate an MRI-based quantitative measure of both cerebrovascular and neurodegeneration in Alzheimer disease (AD) for clinical and potentially research purposes.

Methods: We used data from a cross-sectional and longitudinal community-based study of Medicare-eligible residents in northern Manhattan followed every 18-24 months (n = 1,175, mean age 78 years). White matter hyperintensities, infarcts, hippocampal volumes, and cortical thicknesses were quantified from MRI and combined to generate an MRI measure associated with episodic memory. The combined MRI measure was replicated and validated using autopsy data, clinical diagnoses, and CSF biomarkers and amyloid PET from the Alzheimer's Disease Neuroimaging Initiative.

Results: The quantitative MRI measure was developed in a group of community participants (n = 690) and replicated in a similar second group (n = 485). Compared with healthy controls, the quantitative MRI measure was lower in patients with mild cognitive impairment and lower still in those with clinically diagnosed AD. The quantitative MRI measure correlated with neurofibrillary tangles, neuronal loss, atrophy, and infarcts at postmortem in an autopsy subset and was also associated with PET amyloid imaging and CSF levels of total tau, phosphorylated tau, and β-amyloid 42. The MRI measure predicted conversion to MCI and clinical AD among healthy controls.

Conclusion: We developed, replicated, and validated an MRI measure of cerebrovascular and neurodegenerative pathologies that are associated with clinical and neuropathologic diagnosis of AD and related to established biomarkers.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1212/WNL.0000000000006310DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6177275PMC
October 2018

Genetic load determines atrophy in hand cortico-striatal pathways in presymptomatic Huntington's disease.

Hum Brain Mapp 2018 10 24;39(10):3871-3883. Epub 2018 May 24.

Department of Radiology, Brigham and Women's Hospital, Harvard Medical School, Boston, Massachusetts.

Huntington's disease (HD) is an inherited neurodegenerative disorder that causes progressive breakdown of striatal neurons. Standard white matter integrity measures like fractional anisotropy and mean diffusivity derived from diffusion tensor imaging were analyzed in prodromal-HD subjects; however, they studied either a whole brain or specific subcortical white matter structures with connections to cortical motor areas. In this work, we propose a novel analysis of a longitudinal cohort of 243 prodromal-HD individuals and 88 healthy controls who underwent two or more diffusion MRI scans as part of the PREDICT-HD study. We separately trace specific white matter fiber tracts connecting the striatum (caudate and putamen) with four cortical regions corresponding to the hand, face, trunk, and leg motor areas. A multi-tensor tractography algorithm with an isotropic volume fraction compartment allows estimating diffusion of fast-moving extra-cellular water in regions containing crossing fibers and provides quantification of a microstructural property related to tissue atrophy. The tissue atrophy rate is separately analyzed in eight cortico-striatal pathways as a function of CAG-repeats (genetic load) by statistically regressing out age effect from our cohort. The results demonstrate a statistically significant increase in isotropic volume fraction (atrophy) bilaterally in hand fiber connections to the putamen with increasing CAG-repeats, which connects the genetic abnormality (CAG-repeats) to an imaging-based microstructural marker of tissue integrity in specific white matter pathways in HD. Isotropic volume fraction measures in eight cortico-striatal pathways are also correlated significantly with total motor scores and diagnostic confidence levels, providing evidence of their relevance to HD clinical presentation.
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http://dx.doi.org/10.1002/hbm.24217DOI Listing
http://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC6160325PMC
October 2018