Plasma progranulin levels predict progranulin mutation status in frontotemporal dementia patients and asymptomatic family members

Nicole Finch, Matt Baker, Richard Crook, Katie Swanson, Karen Kuntz, Rebecca Surtees, Gina Bisceglio, Anne Rovelet-Lecrux, Bradley Boeve, Ronald C. Petersen, Dennis W. Dickson, Steven G. Younkin, Vincent Deramecourt, Julia Crook, Neill R. Graff-Radford, Rosa Rademakers

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

270 Scopus citations

Abstract

Mutations in the progranulin gene (GRN) are an important cause of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) with ubiquitin and TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP43)-positive pathology. The clinical presentation associated with GRN mutations is heterogeneous and may include clinical probable Alzheimers disease. All GRN mutations identified thus far cause disease through a uniform disease mechanism, i.e. the loss of functional GRN or haploinsufficiency. To determine if expression of GRN in plasma could predict GRN mutation status and could be used as a biological marker, we optimized a GRN ELISA and studied plasma samples of a consecutive clinical FTLD series of 219 patients, 70 control individuals, 72 early-onset probable Alzheimers disease patients and nine symptomatic and 18 asymptomatic relatives of GRN mutation families. All FTLD patients with GRN loss-of-function mutations showed significantly reduced levels of GRN in plasma to about one third of the levels observed in non-GRN carriers and control individuals (P < 0.001). No overlap in distributions of GRN levels was observed between the eight GRN loss-of-function mutation carriers (range: 5394 ng/ml) and 191 non-GRN mutation carriers (range: 115386 ng/ml). Similar low levels of GRN were identified in asymptomatic GRN mutation carriers. Importantly, ELISA analyses also identified one probable Alzheimers disease patient (1.4) carrying a loss-of-function mutation in GRN. Biochemical analyses further showed that the GRN ELISA only detects full-length GRN, no intermediate granulin fragments. This study demonstrates that using a GRN ELISA in plasma, pathogenic GRN mutations can be accurately detected in symptomatic and asymptomatic carriers. The ∼75 reduction in full-length GRN, suggests an unbalanced GRN metabolism in loss-of-function mutation carriers whereby more GRN is processed into granulins. We propose that plasma GRN levels could be used as a reliable and inexpensive tool to identify all GRN mutation carriers in early-onset dementia populations and asymptomatic at-risk individuals.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)583-591
Number of pages9
JournalBrain
Volume132
Issue number3
DOIs
StatePublished - Mar 2009

Keywords

  • Alzheimers disease
  • ELISA
  • Frontotemporal lobar degeneration
  • Progranulin

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology

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