domenica 29 settembre 2013

Deletions in GRID2 lead to a recessive syndrome of cerebellar ataxia and tonic upgaze in humans

Objective: To identify the genetic cause of a syndrome causing cerebellar ataxia and eye movement abnormalities.
Methods: We identified 2 families with cerebellar ataxia, eye movement abnormalities, and global developmental delay. We performed genetic analyses including single nucleotide polymorphism genotyping, linkage analysis, array comparative genomic hybridization, quantitative PCR, and Sanger sequencing. We obtained eye movement recordings of mutant mice deficient for the ortholog of the identified candidate gene, and performed immunohistochemistry using human and mouse brain specimens.
Results: All affected individuals had ataxia, eye movement abnormalities, most notably tonic upgaze, and delayed speech and cognitive development. Homozygosity mapping identified the disease locus on chromosome 4q. Within this region, a homozygous deletion of GRID2 exon 4 in the index family and compound heterozygous deletions involving GRID2 exon 2 in the second family were identified. Grid2-deficient mice showed larger spontaneous and random eye movements compared to wild-type mice. In developing mouse and human cerebella, GRID2 localized to the Purkinje cell dendritic spines. Brain MRI in 2 affected children showed progressive cerebellar atrophy, which was more severe than that of Grid2-deficient mice.
Conclusions: Biallelic deletions of GRID2 lead to a syndrome of cerebellar ataxia and tonic upgaze in humans. The phenotypic resemblance and similarity in protein expression pattern between humans and mice suggest a conserved role for GRID2 in the synapse organization between parallel fibers and Purkinje cells. However, the progressive and severe cerebellar atrophy seen in the affected individuals could indicate an evolutionarily unique role for GRID2 in the human cerebellum.
Neurology 2013

High-dose albumin treatment for acute ischaemic stroke (ALIAS) part 2: a randomised, double-blind, phase 3, placebo-controlled trial


In animal models of ischaemic stroke, 25% albumin reduced brain infarction and improved neurobehavioural outcome. In a pilot clinical trial, albumin doses as high as 2 g/kg were safely tolerated. We aimed to assess whether albumin given within 5 h of the onset of acute ischaemic stroke increased the proportion of patients with a favourable outcome.


We did a randomised, double-blind, parallel-group, phase 3, placebo-controlled trial between Feb 27, 2009, and Sept 10, 2012, at 69 sites in the USA, 13 sites in Canada, two sites in Finland, and five sites in Israel. Patients aged 18—83 years with ischaemic (ie, non-haemorrhagic) stroke with a baseline National Institutes of Health stroke scale (NIHSS) score of 6 or more who could be treated within 5 h of onset were randomly assigned (1:1), via a central web-based randomisation process with a biased coin minimisation approach, to receive 25% albumin (2 g [8 mL] per kg; maximum dose 750 mL) or the equivalent volume of isotonic saline. All study personnel and participants were masked to the identity of the study drug. The primary endpoint was favourable outcome, defined as either a modified Rankin scale score of 0 or 1, or an NIHSS score of 0 or 1, or both, at 90 days. Analysis was by intention to treat. Thrombolytic therapies were permitted. This trial is registered with, numberNCT00235495.


422 participants were randomly assigned to receive albumin and 419 to receive saline. On Sept 12, 2012, the trial was stopped early for futility (n=841). The primary outcome did not differ between patients in the albumin group and those in the saline group (186 [44%] vs 185 [44%]; risk ratio 0·96, 95% CI 0·84—1·10, adjusted for baseline NIHSS score and thrombolysis stratum). Mild-to-moderate pulmonary oedema was more common in patients given albumin than in those given saline (54 [13%] of 412 vs 5 [1%] of 412 patients); symptomatic intracranial haemorrhage within 24 h was also more common in patients in the albumin group than in the placebo group (17 [4%] of 415 vs 7 [2%] of 414 patients). Although the rate of favourable outcome in patients given albumin remained consistent at 44—45% over the course of the trial, the cumulative rate of favourable outcome in patients given saline rose steadily from 31% to 44%.


Our findings show no clinical benefit of 25% albumin in patients with ischaemic stroke; however, they should not discourage further efforts to identify effective strategies to protect the ischaemic brain, especially because of preclinical literature showing convincing proof-of-principle for the possibility of this outcome.

Lancet Neurology 2013

Dexpramipexole versus placebo for patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (EMPOWER): a randomised, double-blind, phase 3 trial

In a phase 2 study, dexpramipexole (25—150 mg twice daily) was well tolerated for up to 9 months and showed a significant benefit at the high dose in a combined assessment of function and mortality in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. We aimed to assess efficacy and safety of dexpramipexole in a phase 3 trial of patients with familial or sporadic disease.
In our randomised, double-blind, placebo-controlled phase 3 trial (EMPOWER), we enrolled participants aged 18—80 years (with first amyotrophic lateral sclerosis symptom onset 24 months or less before baseline) at 81 academic medical centres in 11 countries. We randomly allocated eligible participants (1:1) with a centralised voice—interactive online system to twice-daily dexpramipexole 150 mg or matched placebo for 12—18 months, stratified by trial site, area of disease onset (bulbar vs other areas), and previous use of riluzole. The primary endpoint was the combined assessment of function and survival (CAFS) score, based on changes in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis functional rating scale—revised (ALSFRS-R) total scores and time to death up to 12 months. We assessed the primary endpoint in all participants who received at least one dose and had at least one post-dose ALSFRS-R measurement or died. We monitored adverse events in all participants. This study is registered with, number NCT01281189.
Between March 28, 2011, and Sept 30, 2011, we enrolled 943 participants (474 randomly allocated dexpramipexole, 468 randomly allocated placebo, and one withdrew). Least-square mean CAFS scores at 12 months did not differ between participants in the dexpramipexole group (score 441·76, 95% CI 415·43—468·08) and those in the placebo group (438·84, 412·81—464·88; p=0·86). At 12 months, we noted no differences in mean change from baseline in ALSFRS-R total score (—13·34 in the dexpramipexole group vs −13·42 in the placebo group; p=0·90) or time to death (74 [16%] vs 79 [17%]; hazard ratio 1·03 [0·75—1·43]; p=0·84). 37 (8%) participants in the dexpramipexole group developed neutropenia compared with eight (2%) participants in the placebo group, and incidence of other adverse events was similar between groups.
Dexpramipexole was generally well tolerated but did not differ from placebo on any prespecified efficacy endpoint measurement. Our trial can inform the design of future clinical research strategies in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Lancet Neurology 2013

Uhthoff's phenomena in MS—clinical features and pathophysiology

In the late 19th century, Wilhelm Uhthoff reported on a series of patients with acute optic neuritis who manifested similar recurrent, stereotyped visual symptoms that were of paroxysmal onset, short in duration, and reversible. These 'Uhthoff's phenomena', which are a feature of multiple sclerosis (MS) and other demyelinating diseases, can be triggered by factors including the perimenstrual period, exercise, infection, fever, exposure to high ambient temperatures, and psychological stress. Here, we characterize the clinical, pathophysiological and neurotherapeutic challenges associated with Uhthoff's phenomena, and discuss the differentiation of these events from other paroxysmal, acute or subacute changes in functional capabilities and neurological symptoms in MS. For instance, whereas MS exacerbations are contingent on immune dysregulation, Uhthoff's phenomena are predicated on ion channel modifications, in conjunction with thermoregulatory derangements that transiently alter the conduction properties of demyelinated axons. An understanding of these pathophysiological underpinnings of Uhthoff's phenomena is germane to their recognition and timely treatment.
Nature Review Neurology 2013

Hereditary Spastic Paraplegia Type 43 (SPG43) is Caused by Mutation in C19orf12

We report here the genetic basis for a form of progressive hereditary spastic paraplegia (SPG43) previously described in two Malian sisters. Exome sequencing revealed a homozygous missense variant (c.187G>C; p.Ala63Pro) in C19orf12, a gene recently implicated in neurodegeneration with brain iron accumulation (NBIA). The same mutation was subsequently also found in a Brazilian family with features of NBIA, and we identified another NBIA patient with a three-nucleotide deletion (c.197_199del; p.Gly66del). Haplotype analysis revealed that the p.Ala63Pro mutations have a common origin, but MRI scans showed no brain iron deposition in the Malian SPG43 subjects. Heterologous expression of these SPG43 and NBIA variants resulted in similar alterations in the subcellular distribution of C19orf12. The SPG43 and NBIA variants reported here as well as the most common C19orf12 missense mutation reported in NBIA patients are found within a highly conserved, extended hydrophobic domain in C19orf12, underscoring the functional importance of this domain.

Human Mutations 2013

giovedì 26 settembre 2013

Encephalitis and GABAB receptor antibodies

Objective: To report the clinical features of 20 newly diagnosed patients with GABAB receptor (GABABR) antibodies and determine the frequency of associated tumors and concurrent neuronal autoantibodies.
Methods: Clinical data were retrospectively obtained and evaluated. Serum and CSF samples were examined for additional antibodies using methods previously reported.
Results: Seventeen patients presented with seizures, memory loss, and confusion, compatible with limbic encephalitis (LE), one patient presented with ataxia, one patient presented with status epilepticus, and one patient presented with opsoclonus-myoclonus syndrome (OMS). Nineteen (95%) patients eventually developed LE during the course of the disease. Small-cell lung cancer (SCLC) was identified in 10 (50%) patients, all with LE. Treatment and outcome was available from 19 patients: 15 showed complete (n = 7) or partial (n = 8) neurologic improvement after steroids, IV immunoglobulins, or plasma exchange and oncologic treatment when indicated; 1 patient died of tumor progression shortly after the first cycle of immunotherapy, and 3 were not treated. Five patients with SCLC had additional onconeuronal antibodies (Ri, amphiphysin, or SOX1), and 2 without tumor had GAD65 and NMDAR antibodies, respectively. GABABR antibodies were not detected in serum of 116 patients with SCLC without neurologic symptoms.
Conclusion: Our study confirms GABABR as an autoantigen of paraneoplastic and nonparaneoplastic LE and expands the phenotype of GABABR antibodies to ataxia, OMS, and status epilepticus. The long-term prognosis is dictated by the presence of a tumor. Recognition of syndromes associated with GABABR antibodies is important because they usually respond to treatment.

Neurology 2013

The pattern of atrophy in familial Alzheimer disease

Objective: To assess regional patterns of gray and white matter atrophy in familial Alzheimer disease (FAD) mutation carriers.
Methods: A total of 192 participants with volumetric T1-weighted MRI, genotyping, and clinical diagnosis were available from the Dominantly Inherited Alzheimer Network. Of these, 69 were presymptomatic mutation carriers, 50 were symptomatic carriers (31 with Clinical Dementia Rating [CDR] = 0.5, 19 with CDR > 0.5), and 73 were noncarriers from the same families. Voxel-based morphometry was used to identify cross-sectional group differences in gray matter and white matter volume.
Results: Significant differences in gray matter (p < 0.05, family-wise error–corrected) were observed between noncarriers and mildly symptomatic (CDR = 0.5) carriers in the thalamus and putamen, as well as in the temporal lobe, precuneus, and cingulate gyrus; the same pattern, but with more extensive changes, was seen in those with CDR > 0.5. Significant white matter differences between noncarriers and symptomatic carriers were observed in the cingulum and fornix; these form input and output connections to the medial temporal lobe, cingulate, and precuneus. No differences between noncarriers and presymptomatic carriers survived correction for multiple comparisons, but there was a trend for decreased gray matter in the thalamus for carriers closer to their estimated age at onset. There were no significant increases of gray or white matter in asymptomatic or symptomatic carriers compared to noncarriers.
Conclusions: Atrophy in FAD is observed early, both in areas commonly associated with sporadic Alzheimer disease and also in the putamen and thalamus, 2 regions associated with early amyloid deposition in FAD mutation carriers.
Neurology 2013

Clinical presentation of chronic traumatic encephalopathy

Objective: The goal of this study was to examine the clinical presentation of chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) in neuropathologically confirmed cases.
Methods: Thirty-six adult male subjects were selected from all cases of neuropathologically confirmed CTE at the Boston University Center for the Study of Traumatic Encephalopathy brain bank. Subjects were all athletes, had no comorbid neurodegenerative or motor neuron disease, and had next-of-kin informants to provide retrospective reports of the subjects' histories and clinical presentations. These interviews were conducted blind to the subjects' neuropathologic findings.
Results: A triad of cognitive, behavioral, and mood impairments was common overall, with cognitive deficits reported for almost all subjects. Three subjects were asymptomatic at the time of death. Consistent with earlier case reports of boxers, 2 relatively distinct clinical presentations emerged, with one group whose initial features developed at a younger age and involved behavioral and/or mood disturbance (n = 22), and another group whose initial presentation developed at an older age and involved cognitive impairment (n = 11).
Conclusions: This suggests there are 2 major clinical presentations of CTE, one a behavior/mood variant and the other a cognitive variant.
Neurology 2013

domenica 22 settembre 2013

“Atypical” atypical parkinsonism: New genetic conditions presenting with features of progressive supranuclear palsy, corticobasal degeneration, or multiple system atrophy—A diagnostic guide

Recently, a number of genetic parkinsonian conditions have been recognized that share some features with the clinical syndromes of progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), corticobasal degeneration (CBD), and multiple system atrophy (MSA), the classic phenotypic templates of atypical parkinsonism. For example, patients with progranulin, dynactin, or ATP13A gene mutations may have vertical supranuclear gaze palsy. This has made differential diagnosis difficult for practitioners. In this review, our goal is to make clinicians aware of these genetic disorders and provide clinical clues and syndromic associations, as well as investigative features, that may help in diagnosing these disorders. The correct identification of these patients has important clinical, therapeutic, and research implications. 
Movement Disorders 2013

Discovering rare diesases. Nonmotor and extracerebellar features in Machado-Joseph disease: A review

Spinocerebellar ataxia type 3 or Machado-Joseph disease is the most common spinocerebellar ataxia worldwide, and the high frequency of nonmotor manifestations in Machado-Joseph disease demonstrates how variable is the clinical expression of this single genetic entity. Anatomical, physiological, clinical, and functional neuroimaging data reinforce the idea of a degenerative process involving extracerebellar regions of the nervous system in Machado-Joseph disease. Brain imaging and neuropathologic studies have revealed atrophy of the pons, basal ganglia, midbrain, medulla oblongata, multiple cranial nerve nuclei, and thalamus and of the frontal, parietal, temporal, occipital, and limbic lobes. This review provides relevant information about nonmotor manifestations and extracerebellar symptoms in Machado-Joseph disease. The main nonmotor manifestations of Machado-Joseph disease described in previous data and discussed in this article are: sleep disorders, cognitive and affective disturbances, psychiatric symptoms, olfactory dysfunction, peripheral neuropathy, pain, cramps, fatigue, nutritional problems, and dysautonomia. In addition, we conducted a brief discussion of noncerebellar motor manifestations, highlighting movement disorders. ©  Movement Disorders 2013

Discovering rare diseases. Creatine deficiency syndrome. A treatable myopathy due to arginine–glycine amidinotransferase (AGAT) deficiency

We report two sisters, aged 11 and 6years, with AGAT deficiency syndrome (OMIM 612718) which is the least common creatine deficiency syndrome. They were born full-term to consanguineous parents and had moderate developmental delay. Examination showed an important language delay, a progressive proximal muscular weakness in the lower limbs with Gowers sign and myopathic electromyography. Investigations revealed undetectable guanidinoacetate and low level of creatine in plasma and urine, characteristic findings of AGAT deficiency syndrome. Brain magnetic resonance spectroscopy showed a markedly reduced level of creatine. Guanidinoacetate methyltransferase (GATM) gene sequencing revealed a homozygous missense mutation in exon 4:c.608A>C, (p.Tyr203Ser). Thirteen months after beginning the treatment with oral creatine monohydrate 200mg/kg/day, then 400mg/kg/day, there was a dramatic improvement in muscle strength with Gowers sign disappearance in both patients, and a mild improvement in language and cognitive functions. AGAT deficiency syndrome should be considered in all patients with language retardation and cognitive impairment associated to a myopathy of unknown etiology such that early diagnosis must lead to creatine supplementation to cure the myopathy and improve language and cognitive function.
Neuromuscular Disorders 2013

Discovering rare diseases. Valosin-containing protein disease: Inclusion body myopathy with Paget's disease of the bone and fronto-temporal dementia


Mutations in valosin-containing protein (VCP) cause inclusion body myopathy (IBM) associated with Paget's disease of the bone (PDB) and fronto-temporal dementia (FTD) or IBMPFD. Although IBMPFD is a multisystem disorder, muscle weakness is the presenting symptom in greater than half of patients and an isolated symptom in 30%. Patients with the full spectrum of the disease make up only 12% of those affected; therefore it is important to consider and recognize IBMPFD in a neuromuscular clinic. The current review describes the skeletal muscle phenotype and common muscle histochemical features in IBMPFD. In addition to myopathic features; vacuolar changes and tubulofilamentous inclusions are found in a subset of patients. The most consistent findings are VCP, ubiquitin and TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) positive inclusions. VCP is a ubiquitously expressed multifunctional protein that is a member of the AAA+ (ATPase associated with various activities) protein family. It has been implicated in multiple cellular functions ranging from organelle biogenesis to protein degradation. Although the role of VCP in skeletal muscle is currently unknown, it is clear that VCP mutations lead to the accumulation of ubiquitinated inclusions and protein aggregates in patient tissue, transgenic animals and in vitro systems. We suggest that IBMPFD is novel type of protein surplus myopathy. Instead of accumulating a poorly degraded and aggregated mutant protein as seen in some myofibrillar and nemaline myopathies, VCP mutations disrupt its normal role in protein homeostasis resulting in the accumulation of ubiquitinated and aggregated proteins that are deleterious to skeletal muscle. © 2009 Elsevier B.V. All rights reserved.
Neuromuscular Disorders September 2013

Peripheral neuropathy in mitochondrial disorders


Why is peripheral neuropathy common but mild in many mitochondrial disorders, and why is it, in some cases, the predominant or only manifestation? Although this question remains largely unanswered, recent advances in cellular and molecular biology have begun to clarify the importance of mitochondrial functioning and distribution in the peripheral nerve. Mutations in proteins involved in mitochondrial dynamics (ie, fusion and fission) frequently result in a Charcot-Marie-Tooth phenotype. Peripheral neuropathies with different phenotypic presentations occur in mitochondrial diseases associated with abnormalities in mitochondrial DNA replication and maintenance, or associated with defects in mitochondrial respiratory chain complex V. Our knowledge of mitochondrial disorders is rapidly growing as new nuclear genes are identified and new phenotypes described. Early diagnosis of mitochondrial disorders, essential to provide appropriate genetic counselling, has become crucial in a few treatable conditions. Recognising and diagnosing an underlying mitochondrial defect in patients presenting with peripheral neuropathy is therefore of paramount importance.
Lancet Neurology September 2013

SQSTM1 Mutations in French Patients With Frontotemporal Dementia or Frontotemporal Dementia With Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Importance  Mutations in the SQSTM1 gene, coding for p62, are a cause of Paget disease of bone and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Recently, SQSTM1 mutations were confirmed in ALS, and mutations were also identified in 3 patients with frontotemporal dementia (FTD), suggesting a role for SQSTM1 in FTD.
Objective  To evaluate the exact contribution of SQSTM1 to FTD and FTD with ALS (FTD-ALS) in an independent cohort of patients.
Design  SQSTM1 mutation was first identified in a multiplex family with FTD by use of whole-exome sequencing. To evaluate the frequency of SQSTM1 mutations, we sequenced this gene in a cohort of patients with FTD or FTD-ALS, with no mutations in known FTD and ALS genes.
Setting  Primary care or referral center.
Participants  An overall cohort of 188 French patients, including 132 probands with FTD and 56 probands with FTD-ALS.
Main Outcomes and Measures  Frequency of SQSTM1 mutations in patients with FTD or FTD-ALS; description of associated phenotypes.
Results  We identified 4 heterozygous missense mutations in 4 unrelated families with FTD; only 1 family had clinical symptoms of Paget disease of bone, and only 1 family had clinical symptoms of FTD-ALS, possibly owing to the low penetrance of some of the clinical manifestations.
Conclusions and Relevance  Although the frequency of the mutations is low in our series (4 of 188 patients [2%]), our results, similar to those already reported, support a direct pathogenic role of p62 in different types of FTD.

JAMA September 2013

Recognition and management of stroke in young adults and adolescents

Approximately 15% of all ischemic strokes (IS) occur in young adults and adolescents. To date, only limited prior public health and research efforts have specifically addressed stroke in the young. Early diagnosis remains challenging because of the lack of awareness and the relative infrequency of stroke compared with stroke mimics. Moreover, the causes of IS in the young are heterogeneous and can be relatively uncommon, resulting in uncertainties about diagnostic evaluation and cause-specific management. Emerging data have raised public health concerns about the increasing prevalence of traditional vascular risk factors in young individuals, and their potential role in increasing the risk of IS, stroke recurrence, and poststroke mortality. These issues make it important to formulate and enact strategies to increase both awareness and access to resources for young stroke patients, their caregivers and families, and health care professionals. The American Academy of Neurology recently convened an expert panel to develop a consensus document concerning the recognition, evaluation, and management of IS in young adults and adolescents. The report of the consensus panel is presented herein.

Neurology 2013

martedì 17 settembre 2013

Breaking News: European Commission Approves Genzyme’s Multiple Sclerosis Treatment Lemtrada™ (alemtuzumab)

CAMBRIDGE, Mass.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--Genzyme, a Sanofi company (EURONEXT:SAN and NYSE:SNY) announced today that the European Commission has granted marketing authorization for Lemtrada™. This follows the August 30th approval of Aubagio®. The company intends to begin launching both products in the EU soon.
“The approvals of Lemtrada and Aubagio in the European Union represent an important milestone for Genzyme and demonstrate our focus on scientific innovation and commitment to multiple sclerosis patients,” said Genzyme CEO and President, David Meeker, M.D. “This is particularly exciting as the EU approval is the first for Lemtrada globally. We look forward to making these unique therapies available to MS patients very soon.”
Lemtrada is indicated for the treatment of adult patients with relapsing remitting multiple sclerosis (RRMS) with active disease defined by clinical or imaging features. Lemtrada 12 mg has a novel dosing and administration schedule of two annual treatment courses. The first treatment course of Lemtrada is administered via intravenous infusion on five consecutive days, and the second course is administered on three consecutive days, 12 months later.
The Lemtrada clinical development program included two pivotal randomized Phase III studies comparing treatment with Lemtrada to high-dose subcutaneous interferon beta-1a (Rebif®) in patients with RRMS who had active disease and were either new to treatment (CARE-MS I) or who had relapsed while on prior therapy (CARE-MS II), as well as an ongoing extension study. In CARE-MS I, Lemtrada was significantly more effective than interferon beta-1a at reducing annualized relapse rates; the difference observed in slowing disability progression did not reach statistical significance. In CARE-MS II, Lemtrada was significantly more effective than interferon beta-1a at reducing annualized relapse rates, and accumulation of disability was significantly slowed in patients given Lemtrada vs. interferon beta-1a.
The most common side effects of Lemtrada are infusion associated reactions, infections (upper respiratory tract and urinary tract), lymphopenia and leukopenia. Serious autoimmune conditions can occur in patients receiving Lemtrada. A comprehensive risk management program will support early detection and management of these autoimmune events.

domenica 15 settembre 2013

Association between repeat sizes and clinical and pathological characteristics in carriers of C9ORF72 repeat expansions (Xpansize-72): a cross-sectional cohort study

Hexanucleotide repeat expansions in chromosome 9 open reading frame 72 (C9ORF72) are the most common known genetic cause of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and motor neuron disease (MND). We assessed whether expansion size is associated with disease severity or phenotype.
We did a cross-sectional Southern blot characterisation study (Xpansize-72) in a cohort of individuals with FTD, MND, both these diseases, or no clinical phenotype. All participants had GGGGCC repeat expansions in C9ORF72, and high quality DNA was available from one or more of the frontal cortex, cerebellum, or blood. We used Southern blotting techniques and densitometry to estimate the repeat size of the most abundant expansion species. We compared repeat sizes between different tissues using Wilcoxon rank sum and Wilcoxon signed rank tests, and between disease subgroups using Kruskal-Wallis rank sum tests. We assessed the association of repeat size with age at onset and age at collection using a Spearman's test of correlation, and assessed the association between repeat size and survival after disease onset using Cox proportional hazards regression models.
We included 84 individuals with C9ORF72 expansions: 35 had FTD, 16 had FTD and MND, 30 had MND, and three had no clinical phenotype. We focused our analysis on three major tissue subgroups: frontal cortex (available from 41 patients [21 with FTD, 11 with FTD and MND, and nine with MND]), cerebellum (40 patients [20 with FTD, 12 with FTD and MND, and eight with MND]), and blood (47 patients [15 with FTD, nine with FTD and MND, and 23 with MND] and three carriers who had no clinical phenotype). Repeat lengths in the cerebellum were smaller (median 12·3 kb [about 1667 repeat units], IQR 11·1—14·3) than those in the frontal cortex (33·8 kb [about 5250 repeat units], 23·5—44·9; p<0·0001) and those in blood (18·6 kb [about 2717 repeat units], 13·9—28·1; p=0·0002). Within these tissues, we detected no difference in repeat length between disease subgroups (cerebellum p=0·96, frontal cortex p=0·27, blood p=0·10). In the frontal cortex of patients with FTD, repeat length correlated with age at onset (r=0·63; p=0·003) and age at sample collection (r=0·58; p=0·006); we did not detect such a correlation in samples from the cerebellum or blood. When assessing cerebellum samples from the overall cohort, survival after disease onset was 4·8 years (IQR 3·0—7·4) in the group with expansions greater than 1467 repeat units (the 25th percentile of repeat lengths) versus 7·4 years (6·3—10·9) in the group with smaller expansions (HR 3·27, 95% CI 1·34—7·95; p=0·009).
We detected substantial variation in repeat sizes between samples from the cerebellum, frontal cortex, and blood, and longer repeat sizes in the cerebellum seem to be associated with a survival disadvantage. Our findings indicate that expansion size does affect disease severity, which—if replicated in other cohorts—could be relevant for genetic counselling.
The ALS Therapy Alliance, the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke, the National Institute on Aging, the Arizona Department of Health Services, the Arizona Biomedical Research Commission, and the Michael J Fox Foundation for Parkinson's Research.
Lancet Neurology 2013

Effect of white-matter lesions on the risk of periprocedural stroke after carotid artery stenting versus endarterectomy in the International Carotid Stenting Study (ICSS): a prespecified analysis of data from a randomised trial

Findings from randomised trials have shown a higher early risk of stroke after carotid artery stenting than after carotid endarterectomy. We assessed whether white-matter lesions affect the perioperative risk of stroke in patients treated with carotid artery stenting versus carotid endarterectomy.
Patients with symptomatic carotid artery stenosis included in the International Carotid Stenting Study (ICSS) were randomly allocated to receive carotid artery stenting or carotid endarterectomy. Copies of baseline brain imaging were analysed by two investigators, who were masked to treatment, for the severity of white-matter lesions using the age-related white-matter changes (ARWMC) score. Randomisation was done with a computer-generated sequence (1:1). Patients were divided into two groups using the median ARWMC. We analysed the risk of stroke within 30 days of revascularisation using a per-protocol analysis. ICSS is registered with, number ISRCTN 25337470.
1036 patients (536 randomly allocated to carotid artery stenting, 500 to carotid endarterectomy) had baseline imaging available. Median ARWMC score was 7, and patients were dichotomised into those with a score of 7 or more and those with a score of less than 7. In patients treated with carotid artery stenting, those with an ARWMC score of 7 or more had an increased risk of stroke compared with those with a score of less than 7 (HR for any stroke 2·76, 95% CI 1·17—6·51; p=0·021; HR for non-disabling stroke 3·00, 1·10—8·36; p=0·031), but we did not see a similar association in patients treated with carotid endarterectomy (HR for any stroke 1·18, 0·40—3·55; p=0·76; HR for disabling or fatal stroke 1·41, 0·38—5·26; p=0·607). Carotid artery stenting was associated with a higher risk of stroke compared with carotid endarterectomy in patients with an ARWMC score of 7 or more (HR for any stroke 2·98, 1·29—6·93; p=0·011; HR for non-disabling stroke 6·34, 1·45—27·71; p=0·014), but there was no risk difference in patients with an ARWMC score of less than 7.

Lancet Neurology 2013

Discovering rare diseases: Joubert Syndrome

Joubert syndrome is a congenital cerebellar ataxia with autosomal recessive or X-linked inheritance, the diagnostic hallmark of which is a unique cerebellar and brainstem malformation recognisable on brain imaging—the so-called molar tooth sign. Neurological signs are present from the neonatal period and include hypotonia progressing to ataxia, global developmental delay, ocular motor apraxia, and breathing dysregulation. These signs are variably associated with multiorgan involvement, mainly of the retina, kidneys, skeleton, and liver. 21 causative genes have been identified so far, all of which encode for proteins of the primary cilium or its apparatus. The primary cilium is a subcellular organelle that has key roles in development and in many cellular functions, making Joubert syndrome part of the expanding family of ciliopathies. Notable clinical and genetic overlap exists between distinct ciliopathies, which can co-occur even within families. Such variability is probably explained by an oligogenic model of inheritance, in which the interplay of mutations, rare variants, and polymorphisms at distinct loci modulate the expressivity of the ciliary phenotype.
Lancet Neurology September 2013

Association Between Early-Onset Parkinson Disease and 22q11.2 Deletion Syndrome Identification of a Novel Genetic Form of Parkinson Disease and Its Clinical Implications

Importance  Clinical case reports of parkinsonism co-occurring with hemizygous 22q11.2 deletions and the associated multisystem syndrome, 22q11.2 deletion syndrome (22q11.2DS), suggest that 22q11.2 deletions may lead to increased risk of early-onset Parkinson disease (PD). The frequency of PD and its neuropathological presentation remain unknown in this common genetic condition.
Objective  To evaluate a possible association between 22q11.2 deletions and PD.
Design, Setting, and Participants  An observational study of the occurrence of PD in the world’s largest cohort of well-characterized adults with a molecularly confirmed diagnosis of 22q11.2DS (n = 159 [6 with postmortem tissue]; age range, 18.1-68.6 years) was conducted in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Rare postmortem brain tissue from individuals with 22q11.2DS and a clinical history of PD was investigated for neurodegenerative changes and compared with that from individuals with no history of a movement disorder.
Main Outcomes and Measures  A clinical diagnosis of PD made by a neurologist and neuropathological features of PD.
Results  Adults with 22q11.2DS had a significantly elevated occurrence of PD compared with standard population estimates (standardized morbidity ratio = 69.7; 95% CI, 19.0-178.5). All cases showed early onset and typical PD symptom pattern, treatment response, and course. All were negative for family history of PD and known pathogenic PD-related mutations. The common use of antipsychotics in patients with 22q11.2DS to manage associated psychiatric symptoms delayed diagnosis of PD by up to 10 years. Postmortem brain tissue revealed classic loss of midbrain dopaminergic neurons in all 3 postmortem 22q11.2DS-PD cases. Typical α-synuclein–positive Lewy bodies were present in the expected distribution in 2 cases but absent in another.
Conclusions and Relevance  These findings suggest that 22q11.2 deletions represent a novel genetic risk factor for early-onset PD with variable neuropathological presentation reminiscent ofLRRK2-associated PD neuropathology. Individuals with early-onset PD and classic features of 22q11.2DS should be considered for genetic testing, and those with a known 22q11.2 deletion should be monitored for the development of parkinsonian symptoms. Molecular studies of the implicated genes, including DGCR8, may help shed light on the underlying pathophysiology of PD in 22q11.2DS and idiopathic PD.
JAMA 2013

Longitudinal Clinical Follow-up of a Large Family With the R357P Twinkle Mutation

Importance  Autosomal dominant progressive external ophthalmoplegia due to PEO1 mutations is considered relatively benign, but no data about long-term progression of this disease have been reported. The aim of this study was to provide a 16-year clinical follow-up of autosomal dominant progressive external ophthalmoplegia due to the p.R357P gene mutation in PEO1.
Observations  Twenty-two members of an Irish-American family were examined in 1996, whenPEO1 sequencing revealed a c.1071G>C/p.R357P mutation in 9 of them. We reexamined the family in 2012 using a standardized clinical protocol. Autosomal dominant progressive external ophthalmoplegia due to the p.R357P PEO1 mutation is a late-onset ocular myopathy beginning with ptosis and progressing slowly. Ophthalmoparesis, if present, is mild and evident only by neurological examination.
JAMA Neurology 2013

SURF1 deficiency causes demyelinating Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease

Objective: To investigate whether mutations in the SURF1 gene are a cause of Charcot-Marie-Tooth (CMT) disease.
Methods: We describe 2 patients from a consanguineous family with demyelinating autosomal recessive CMT disease (CMT4) associated with the homozygous splice site mutation c.107-2A>G in the SURF1 gene, encoding an assembly factor of the mitochondrial respiratory chain complex IV. This observation led us to hypothesize that mutations in SURF1 might be an unrecognized cause of CMT4, and we investigated SURF1 in a total of 40 unrelated patients with CMT4 after exclusion of mutations in known CMT4 genes. The functional impact of c.107-2A>G on splicing, amount of SURF1 protein, and on complex IV activity and assembly was analyzed.
Results: Another patient with CMT4 was found to harbor 2 additional SURF1 mutations. All 3 patients with SURF1-associated CMT4 presented with severe childhood-onset neuropathy, motor nerve conduction velocities <25 m/s, and lactic acidosis. Two patients had brain MRI abnormalities, including putaminal and periaqueductal lesions, and developed cerebellar ataxia years after polyneuropathy. The c.107-2A>G mutation produced no normally spliced transcript, leading to SURF1 absence. However, complex IV remained partially functional in muscle and fibroblasts.
Conclusions: We found SURF1 mutations in 5% of families (2/41) presenting with CMT4. SURF1 should be systematically screened in patients with childhood-onset severe demyelinating neuropathy and additional features such as lactic acidosis, brain MRI abnormalities, and cerebellar ataxia developing years after polyneuropathy.
Neurology 2013

Discovering rare diseases: chloroma

Granulocytic sarcoma, also known as chloroma or extramedullary myeloblastoma, is a rare solid tumor composed of primitive precursors of the granulocytic series of WBC that include myeloblasts, promyelocytes, and myelocytes [1]. This tumor was first described by Burns in 1811. In 1853, King initially called it chloroma, because typical forms have a green color caused by high levels of myeloperoxidase in these immature cells. Rappaport renamed it granulocytic sarcoma in 1966, because not all of the cells are green; 30% are white, gray, or brown, depending on the state of oxidation of the pigmented enzyme or the different cellular enzyme concentrations [12]. Radiologic descriptions of granulocytic sarcomas are rare in the literature and consist mainly of case reports. The aim of this article is to present an overview of the most common imaging findings of granulocytic sarcoma.

Clinical spectrum of SCN2A mutations expanding to Ohtahara syndrome

Objective: We aimed to investigate the possible association between SCN2A mutations and early-onset epileptic encephalopathies (EOEEs).
Methods: We recruited a total of 328 patients with EOEE, including 67 patients with Ohtahara syndrome (OS) and 150 with West syndrome. SCN2A mutations were examined using high resolution melt analysis or whole exome sequencing.
Results: We found 14 novel SCN2A missense mutations in 15 patients: 9 of 67 OS cases (13.4%), 1 of 150 West syndrome cases (0.67%), and 5 of 111 with unclassified EOEEs (4.5%). Twelve of the 14 mutations were confirmed as de novo, and all mutations were absent in 212 control exomes. A de novo mosaic mutation (c.3976G>C) with a mutant allele frequency of 18% was detected in one patient. One mutation (c.634A>G) was found in transcript variant 3, which is a neonatal isoform. All 9 mutations in patients with OS were located in linker regions between 2 transmembrane segments. In 7 of the 9 patients with OS, EEG findings transitioned from suppression-burst pattern to hypsarrhythmia. All 15 of the patients with novel SCN2A missense mutations had intractable seizures; 3 of them were seizure-free at the last medical examination. All patients showed severe developmental delay.
Conclusions: Our study confirmed that SCN2A mutations are an important genetic cause of OS. Given the wide clinical spectrum associated with SCN2A mutations, genetic testing for SCN2A should be considered for children with different epileptic conditions.
Neurology September 2013