Inherited frontotemporal dementia in nine British families associated with intronic mutations in the tau gene

S. M. Pickering-Brown, A. M.T. Richardson, J. S. Snowden, A. M. McDonagh, A. Burns, W. Braude, M. Baker, W. K. Liu, S. H. Yen, J. Hardy, M. Hutton, Y. Davies, D. Allsop, D. Craufurd, D. Neary, D. M.A. Mann

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

99 Scopus citations

Abstract

Genetic screening of 171 patients with frontotemporal lobar degeneration disclosed 14 patients, across nine pedigrees, with mutations in the intron to exon 10 in the tau gene, a region regulating the splicing of exon 10 via a stem loop mechanism. Thirteen of these patients had the +16 splice site mutation and one had the +13 splice site mutation. Affected members of all nine families presented with changes in behaviour and social conduct that were prototypical of frontotemporal dementia (FTD). In all patients with the +16 splice site mutation, the behavioural profile was characterized by disinhibition, restless overactivity, a fatuous affect, puerile behaviour and verbal and motor stereotypies. The single patient with the +13 mutation presented a contrasting picture of apathy and inertia. In addition, all patients had evidence of semantic loss. Pathologically, five of the six patients so far autopsied shared frontotemporal atrophy with involvement of the substantia nigra. The underlying histology was that of microvacuolar-type cortical degeneration with a few swollen cells. Tau pathology was widespread throughout the brain and present in neurones and glial cells, mostly in the frontal and temporal cortical regions. This was in the form of neurofibrillary tangles and amorphous tau deposits (pre-tangles); Pick bodies were not observed. Ultrastructurally, the tau filaments had a twisted, ribbon-like morphology distinct from the paired helical filaments of Alzheimer's disease. One patient died from an unrelated illness whilst in the early clinical stages of FTD. In this patient, cortical microvacuolar and astrocytic changes were absent, though there were scattered neurones and glial cells, immunoreactive to tau, throughout the cortical and subcortical regions. The disease process underlying the neurodegeneration within these inherited forms of FTD may therefore stem directly from early, primary alterations in the function of tau. All eight families with the +16 mutation seem to be part of a common extended pedigree, possibly originating from a founder member residing within the North Wales region of Great Britain.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)732-751
Number of pages20
JournalBrain
Volume125
Issue number4
DOIs
StatePublished - 2002

Keywords

  • Familial frontotemporal dementia
  • Neuropsychology
  • Tau biochemistry
  • Tau gene mutations
  • Tau pathology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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    Pickering-Brown, S. M., Richardson, A. M. T., Snowden, J. S., McDonagh, A. M., Burns, A., Braude, W., Baker, M., Liu, W. K., Yen, S. H., Hardy, J., Hutton, M., Davies, Y., Allsop, D., Craufurd, D., Neary, D., & Mann, D. M. A. (2002). Inherited frontotemporal dementia in nine British families associated with intronic mutations in the tau gene. Brain, 125(4), 732-751. https://doi.org/10.1093/brain/awf069