domenica 29 giugno 2014

Focal abnormalities in idiopathic generalized epilepsy: A critical review of the literature

Conventionally, epilepsy is dichotomized into distinct “focal” and “generalized” categories. However, many studies have reported so-called focal features among patients with idiopathic generalized epilepsy (IGE) in the domains of semiology, electroencephalography, neuropsychology, neuropathology, and neuroimaging. We sought to review such features and clinical implications. A Web of Science database search was conducted to identify relevant publications. Our search yielded 145 papers describing focal features involving different domains in IGE, with 117 papers analyzed after excluding abstracts and case reports. Focal semiologic features are commonly seen in IGE. There are conflicting data from studies in the domains of electroencephalography, neuroimaging, and neuropathology. Studies on neuropsychology are suggestive of frontal lobe functional deficits in juvenile myoclonic epilepsy. Most advanced neuroimaging studies demonstrate the involvement of both the thalamus and the cortex during generalized spike-wave discharges (GSWDs). A few electroencephalographic and neuroimaging studies indicate that the cortex precedes the thalamus at the onset of GSWD. Focal features may contribute to misdiagnosis of IGE as focal epilepsy. However there are methodologic limitations in the studies that affect the results.

Epilepsia 2014

WONOEP appraisal: New genetic approaches to study epilepsy

New genetic investigation techniques, including next-generation sequencing, epigenetic profiling, cell lineage mapping, targeted genetic manipulation of specific neuronal cell types, stem cell reprogramming, and optogenetic manipulations within epileptic networks are progressively unraveling the mysteries of epileptogenesis and ictogenesis. These techniques have opened new avenues to discover the molecular basis of epileptogenesis and to study the physiologic effects of mutations in epilepsy-associated genes on a multilayer level, from cells to circuits. This manuscript reviews recently published applications of these new genetic technologies in the study of epilepsy, as well as work presented by the authors at the genetic session of the XII Workshop on the Neurobiology of Epilepsy (WONOEP 2013) in Quebec, Canada. Next-generation sequencing is providing investigators with an unbiased means to assess the molecular causes of sporadic forms of epilepsy and has revealed the complexity and genetic heterogeneity of sporadic epilepsy disorders. To assess the functional impact of mutations in these newly identified genes on specific neuronal cell types during brain development, new modeling strategies in animals, including conditional genetics in mice and in utero knock-down approaches, are enabling functional validation with exquisite cell-type and temporal specificity. In addition, optogenetics, using cell-type–specific Cre recombinase driver lines, is enabling investigators to dissect networks involved in epilepsy. In addition, genetically encoded cell-type labeling is providing new means to assess the role of the nonneuronal components of epileptic networks such as glial cells. Furthermore, beyond its role in revealing coding variants involved in epileptogenesis, next-generation sequencing can be used to assess the epigenetic modifications that lead to sustained network hyperexcitability in epilepsy, including methylation changes in gene promoters and noncoding ribonucleic acid (RNA) involved in modifying gene expression following seizures. In addition, genetically based bioluminescent reporters are providing new opportunities to assess neuronal activity and neurotransmitter levels both in vitro and in vivo in the context of epilepsy. Finally, genetically rederived neurons generated from patient induced pluripotent stem cells and genetically modified zebrafish have become high-throughput means to investigate disease mechanisms and potential new therapies. Genetics has changed the field of epilepsy research considerably, and is paving the way for better diagnosis and therapies for patients with epilepsy.

Epilepsia 2014

sabato 28 giugno 2014

Association of Lifetime Intellectual Enrichment With Cognitive Decline in the Older Population

Importance  Intellectual lifestyle enrichment throughout life is increasingly viewed as a protective strategy against commonly observed cognitive decline in the older population.
Objectives  To investigate the association of lifetime intellectual enrichment with baseline cognitive performance and rate of cognitive decline in an older population without dementia and to estimate the years of protection provided against cognitive impairment by these factors.
Design, Setting, and Participants  Prospective analysis of individuals enrolled from October 1, 2004, and in 2008 and 2009 in the Mayo Clinic Study of Aging, a longitudinal, population-based study of cognitive aging in Olmsted County, Minnesota. We studied 1995 individuals without dementia (1718 cognitively normal individuals and 277 individuals with mild cognitive impairment) who completed intellectual lifestyle enrichment measures at baseline and underwent at least 1 follow-up visit.
Main Outcomes and Measures  We studied the effect of lifetime intellectual enrichment by separating the variables into 2 nonoverlapping principal components: education/occupation score and mid/late-life cognitive activity based on self-report questionnaires. A global cognitive z score served as the summary cognition measure. Linear mixed-effects models were used to investigate the associations of demographic and intellectual enrichment measures with global cognitive z score trajectories.
Results  Baseline cognitive performance was lower in older individuals; individuals with lower education/occupation score, lower mid/late-life cognitive activity, and APOE genotype; and men (P < .001). The interaction between the 2 intellectual enrichment measures was significant (P < .03) such that the beneficial effect of mid/late-life cognitive activity on baseline cognitive performance was reduced with increasing education/occupation score. Only baseline age, mid/late-life cognitive activity, and APOE4 genotype were significantly associated with longitudinal change in cognitive performance from baseline (P < .05). For APOE4 carriers with high lifetime intellectual enrichment (75th percentile of education/occupation score and midlife to late-life cognitive activity), the onset of cognitive impairment was approximately 8.7 years later compared with low lifetime intellectual enrichment (25th percentile of education/occupation score and mid/late-life cognitive activity).
Conclusions and Relevance  Higher education/occupation scores were associated with higher levels of cognition. Higher levels of mid/late-life cognitive activity were also associated with higher levels of cognition, but the slope of this association slightly increased over time. Lifetime intellectual enrichment might delay the onset of cognitive impairment and be used as a successful preventive intervention to reduce the impending dementia epidemic.

JAMA Neurology 2014

Charcot-Marie-Tooth Disease Type 2A From Typical to Rare Phenotypic and Genotypic Features

Importance  Axonal Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease (CMT) is genetically heterogeneous, with 11 genes identified. Axonal CMT has most frequently been associated with mutations in the MFN2 gene (CMT2A).
Objectives  To describe the clinical and molecular features of CMT2A, to delineate prognostic factors, to understand connections between a certain phenotype and more serious clinical consequences, and to identify interactions among the associated genes.
Evidence Review  We describe the clinical, molecular, electrophysiological, and additional features of 43 patients with CMT2A. The degree of physical disability was determined by the CMT neuropathy score and adapted to the CMT neuropathy score gradient to evaluate the clinical course. We evaluated all data within the context of the most recent and important publications concerning this issue.
Findings  Twenty-five patients had early-onset CMT2A and severe functional disability, with 9 being wheelchair bound, and 18 had late-onset disease and a milder phenotype. Optic atrophy, vocal cord palsy, and auditory impairment were observed in 5, 6, and 2 patients, respectively. Among the 24 patients who underwent magnetic resonance imaging of the spinal cord, 6 had evidence of spinal atrophy with or without hydromyelia. In 1 patient, magnetic resonance imaging revealed hydrocephalus. Twenty different MFN2 mutations were identified, and 14 were considered new variants. Their transmission was predominantly autosomal dominant, with vertical transmission in 8 and de novo occurrence in 3. However, we also identified rare types of transmission, especially a germinal mosaicism and an autosomal recessive inheritance. One patient carried a rare variant in the GDAP1 gene and another in the OPA1 gene in association with MFN2mutation.
Conclusions and Relevance  Charcot-Marie-Tooth disease type 2A associated with MFN2mutations is clinically very heterogeneous. Ranging from a mild to a severe form, CMT2A exhibits various types of transmission. Optic atrophy and vocal cord palsy were observed in patients with severe disability and an early-onset form and also in patients with later onset. Hydromyelia and spinal cord atrophy support central nervous system involvement in CMT2A.
JAMA Neurology 2014

GNE myopathy: A prospective natural history study of disease progression

Mutations in the glucosamine (UDP-N-acetyl)-2-epimerase/N-acetylmannosamine kinase gene cause GNE myopathy, a mildly progressive autosomal recessive myopathy. We performed a prospective natural history study in 24 patients with GNE myopathy to select evaluation tools for use in upcoming clinical trials. Patient clinical conditions were evaluated at study entry and one-year follow-up. Of the 24 patients, eight (33.3%) completed a standard 6-min walk test without assistance. No cardiac events were observed. Summed manual muscle testing of 17 muscles, grip power, and percent force vital capacity (%FVC) were significantly reduced (p<0.05), and scores for 6-min walk test and gross motor function measure were decreased (p<0.1) after one year. The decrement in %FVC was significant among non-ambulant patients, whereas the decrement in grip power tended to be greater among ambulant patients. The 6-min walk test, gross motor function measure, manual muscle testing, grip power, and %FVC reflect annual changes and are thus considered good evaluation tools for clinical trials.

Neuromuscular Disorders 2014

Consensus on cerebral involvement in myotonic dystrophy: Workshop report: May 24–27, 2013, Ferrere (AT), Italy

Thirty-four clinicians, scientists and representatives from industries convened for a workshop on cerebral involvement in myotonic dystrophy (DM). The workshop was held in Ferrere (Asti) from May 24th to 27th 2013 and as the previous one [1]had the purpose to stimulate the research on CNS dysfunction in DM and to discuss major issues regarding CNS involvement.
Classically viewed as a neuromuscular disease, for many years research on DM has been principally focused on muscular aspects. Therefore few data are available for CNS involvement. With new therapeutic developments with potential to affect pathophysiology across multiple tissues and organ systems it will be mandatory to increase our understanding of CNS pathophysiology in order to appropriately monitor whether or not there is beneficial effect in CNS. Indeed CNS dysfunction is one of the major issue affecting quality of life in DM patients thus it has to be appropriately considered in planning clinical trials.
This workshop included different themes covering all the topics of DM CNS involvement. CNS research needs to proceed faster and consensus has to be established in the major themes of CNS study. The present report describes the major issues that emerged during the workshop, with the aim of updating and stimulating research in this critical field

Neuromuscular Disorders 2014

Modulation of the age at onset in spinocerebellar ataxia by CAG tracts in various genes

Polyglutamine-coding (CAG)n repeat expansions in seven different genes cause spinocerebellar ataxias. Although the size of the expansion is negatively correlated with age at onset, it accounts for only 50–70% of its variability. To find other factors involved in this variability, we performed a regression analysis in 1255 affected individuals with identified expansions (spinocerebellar ataxia types 1, 2, 3, 6 and 7), recruited through the European Consortium on Spinocerebellar Ataxias, to determine whether age at onset is influenced by the size of the normal allele in eight causal (CAG)n-containing genes (ATXN1–36–717ATN1 and HTT). We confirmed the negative effect of the expanded allele and detected threshold effects reflected by a quadratic association between age at onset and CAG size in spinocerebellar ataxia types 1, 3 and 6. We also evidenced an interaction between the expanded and normal alleles intrans in individuals with spinocerebellar ataxia types 1, 6 and 7. Except for individuals with spinocerebellar ataxia type 1, age at onset was also influenced by other (CAG)n-containing genes: ATXN7 in spinocerebellar ataxia type 2; ATXN2ATN1 and HTT in spinocerebellar ataxia type 3;ATXN1 and ATXN3 in spinocerebellar ataxia type 6; and ATXN3 and TBP in spinocerebellar ataxia type 7. This suggests that there are biological relationships among these genes. The results were partially replicated in four independent populations representing 460 Caucasians and 216 Asian samples; the differences are possibly explained by ethnic or geographical differences. As the variability in age at onset is not completely explained by the effects of the causative and modifier sister genes, other genetic or environmental factors must also play a role in these diseases.


Pure and syndromic optic atrophy explained by deep intronic OPA1 mutations and an intralocus modifier

The genetic diagnosis in inherited optic neuropathies often remains challenging, and the emergence of complex neurological phenotypes that involve optic neuropathy is puzzling. Here we unravel two novel principles of genetic mechanisms in optic neuropathies: deep intronic OPA1mutations, which explain the disease in several so far unsolved cases; and an intralocus OPA1 modifier, which explains the emergence of syndromic ‘optic atrophy plus’ phenotypes in several families. First, we unravelled a deep intronic mutation 364 base pairs 3’ of exon 4b in OPA1 by in-depth investigation of a family with severe optic atrophy plus syndrome in which conventional OPA1 diagnostics including gene dosage analyses were normal. The mutation creates a new splice acceptor site resulting in aberrant OPA1 transcripts with retained intronic sequence and subsequent translational frameshift as shown by complementary DNA analysis. In patient fibroblasts we demonstrate nonsense mediated messenger RNA decay, reduced levels of OPA1 protein, and impairment of mitochondrial dynamics. Subsequent site-specific screening of >360 subjects with unexplained inherited optic neuropathy revealed three additional families carrying this deep intronic mutation and a base exchange four nucleotides upstream, respectively, thus confirming the clinical significance of this mutational mechanism. Second, in all severely affected patients of the index family, the deep intronic mutation occurred in compound heterozygous state with an exonic OPA1 missense variant (p.I382M; NM_015560.2). The variant alone did not cause a phenotype, even in homozygous state indicating that this long debated OPA1 variant is not pathogenic per se, but acts as a phenotypic modifier if it encountersin trans with an OPA1 mutation. Subsequent screening of whole exomes from >600 index patients identified a second family with severe optic atrophy plus syndrome due to compound heterozygous p.I382M, thus confirming this mechanism. In summary, we provide genetic and functional evidence that deep intronic mutations in OPA1 can cause optic atrophy and explain disease in a substantial share of families with unsolved inherited optic neuropathies. Moreover, we show that an OPA1modifier variant explains the emergence of optic atrophy plus phenotypes if combined in trans with another OPA1 mutation. Both mutational mechanisms identified in this study—deep intronic mutations and intragenic modifiers—might represent more generalizable mechanisms that could be found also in a wide range of other neurodegenerative and optic neuropathy diseases.

Brain 2014

Clinical and genetic diversity of SMN1-negative proximal spinal muscular atrophies

Hereditary spinal muscular atrophy is a motor neuron disorder characterized by muscle weakness and atrophy due to degeneration of the anterior horn cells of the spinal cord. Initially, the disease was considered purely as an autosomal recessive condition caused by loss-of-functionSMN1 mutations on 5q13. Recent developments in next generation sequencing technologies, however, have unveiled a growing number of clinical conditions designated as non-5q forms of spinal muscular atrophy. At present, 16 different genes and one unresolved locus are associated with proximal non-5q forms, having high phenotypic variability and diverse inheritance patterns. This review provides an overview of the current knowledge regarding the phenotypes, causative genes, and disease mechanisms associated with proximal SMN1-negative spinal muscular atrophies. We describe the molecular and cellular functions enriched among causative genes, and discuss the challenges in the post-genomics era of spinal muscular atrophy research.

Brain 2014

Traumatic brain injury and risk of dementia in older veterans

Objectives: Traumatic brain injury (TBI) is common in military personnel, and there is growing concern about the long-term effects of TBI on the brain; however, few studies have examined the association between TBI and risk of dementia in veterans.
Methods: We performed a retrospective cohort study of 188,764 US veterans aged 55 years or older who had at least one inpatient or outpatient visit during both the baseline (2000–2003) and follow-up (2003–2012) periods and did not have a dementia diagnosis at baseline. TBI and dementia diagnoses were determined using ICD-9 codes in electronic medical records. Fine-Gray proportional hazards models were used to determine whether TBI was associated with greater risk of incident dementia, accounting for the competing risk of death and adjusting for demographics, medical comorbidities, and psychiatric disorders.
Results: Veterans were a mean age of 68 years at baseline. During the 9-year follow-up period, 16% of those with TBI developed dementia compared with 10% of those without TBI (adjusted hazard ratio, 1.57; 95% confidence interval: 1.35–1.83). There was evidence of an additive association between TBI and other conditions on risk of dementia.
Conclusions: TBI in older veterans was associated with a 60% increase in the risk of developing dementia over 9 years after accounting for competing risks and potential confounders. Our results suggest that TBI in older veterans may predispose toward development of symptomatic dementia and raise concern about the potential long-term consequences of TBI in younger veterans and civilians.

Neurology 2014

Breaking News: EMA Panel Recommends Approval for Flutemetamol in AD

The European Medicines Agency's Committee for Medicinal Products for Human Use (CHMP) has adopted a positive opinion, recommending marketing authorization be granted for a new diagnostic radiopharmaceutical, flutemetamol (18F) (Vizamyl, 400 MBq/mL, GE Healthcare Ltd), for the visual detection of amyloid-β neuritic plaques in the brain of patients with cognitive impairment suspected of having Alzheimer's disease, in conjunction with clinical evaluation.
Fonts: Medscape

sabato 21 giugno 2014

The hubs of the human connectome are generally implicated in the anatomy of brain disorders

Brain networks or ‘connectomes’ include a minority of highly connected hub nodes that are functionally valuable, because their topological centrality supports integrative processing and adaptive behaviours. Recent studies also suggest that hubs have higher metabolic demands and longer-distance connections than other brain regions, and therefore could be considered biologically costly. Assuming that hubs thus normally combine both high topological value and high biological cost, we predicted that pathological brain lesions would be concentrated in hub regions. To test this general hypothesis, we first identified the hubs of brain anatomical networks estimated from diffusion tensor imaging data on healthy volunteers (n = 56), and showed that computational attacks targeted on hubs disproportionally degraded the efficiency of brain networks compared to random attacks. We then prepared grey matter lesion maps, based on meta-analyses of published magnetic resonance imaging data on more than 20 000 subjects and 26 different brain disorders. Magnetic resonance imaging lesions that were common across all brain disorders were more likely to be located in hubs of the normal brain connectome (P < 10−4, permutation test). Specifically, nine brain disorders had lesions that were significantly more likely to be located in hubs (P < 0.05, permutation test), including schizophrenia and Alzheimer’s disease. Both these disorders had significantly hub-concentrated lesion distributions, although (almost completely) distinct subsets of cortical hubs were lesioned in each disorder: temporal lobe hubs specifically were associated with higher lesion probability in Alzheimer’s disease, whereas in schizophrenia lesions were concentrated in both frontal and temporal cortical hubs. These results linking pathological lesions to the topological centrality of nodes in the normal diffusion tensor imaging connectome were generally replicated when hubs were defined instead by the meta-analysis of more than 1500 task-related functional neuroimaging studies of healthy volunteers to create a normative functional co-activation network. We conclude that the high cost/high value hubs of human brain networks are more likely to be anatomically abnormal than non-hubs in many (if not all) brain disorders.

Brain 2014

Discovering rare diseases: PERM

Glycine receptor antibodies in PERM and related syndromes: characteristics, clinical features and outcomes

The clinical associations of glycine receptor antibodies have not yet been described fully. We identified prospectively 52 antibody-positive patients and collated their clinical features, investigations and immunotherapy responses. Serum glycine receptor antibody endpoint titres ranged from 1:20 to 1:60 000. In 11 paired samples, serum levels were higher than (n= 10) or equal to (n = 1) cerebrospinal fluid levels; there was intrathecal synthesis of glycine receptor antibodies in each of the six pairs available for detailed study. Four patients also had high glutamic acid decarboxylase antibodies (>1000 U/ml), and one had high voltage-gated potassium channel-complex antibody (2442 pM). Seven patients with very low titres (<1:50) and unknown or alternative diagnoses were excluded from further study. Three of the remaining 45 patients had newly-identified thymomas and one had a lymphoma. Thirty-three patients were classified as progressive encephalomyelitis with rigidity and myoclonus, and two as stiff person syndrome; five had a limbic encephalitis or epileptic encephalopathy, two had brainstem features mainly, two had demyelinating optic neuropathies and one had an unclear diagnosis. Four patients (9%) died during the acute disease, but most showed marked improvement with immunotherapies. At most recent follow-up, (2–7 years, median 3 years, since first antibody detection), the median modified Rankin scale scores (excluding the four deaths) decreased from 5 at maximal severity to 1 (P < 0.0001), but relapses have occurred in five patients and a proportion are on reducing steroids or other maintenance immunotherapies as well as symptomatic treatments. The glycine receptor antibodies activated complement on glycine receptor-transfected human embryonic kidney cells at room temperature, and caused internalization and lysosomal degradation of the glycine receptors at 37°C. Immunoglobulin G antibodies bound to rodent spinal cord and brainstem co-localizing with monoclonal antibodies to glycine receptor-α1. Ten glycine receptor antibody positive samples were also identified in a retrospective cohort of 56 patients with stiff person syndrome and related syndromes. Glycine receptor antibodies are strongly associated with spinal and brainstem disorders, and the majority of patients have progressive encephalomyelitis with rigidity and myoclonus. The antibodies demonstrate in vitro evidence of pathogenicity and the patients respond well to immunotherapies, contrasting with earlier studies of this syndrome, which indicated a poor prognosis. The presence of glycine receptor antibodies should help to identify a disease that responds to immunotherapies, but these treatments may need to be sustained, relapses can occur and maintenance immunosuppression may be required.

Brain 2014

Agrin mutations lead to a congenital myasthenic syndrome with distal muscle weakness and atrophy

Congenital myasthenic syndromes are a clinically and genetically heterogeneous group of rare diseases resulting from impaired neuromuscular transmission. Their clinical hallmark is fatigable muscle weakness associated with a decremental muscle response to repetitive nerve stimulation and frequently related to postsynaptic defects. Distal myopathies form another clinically and genetically heterogeneous group of primary muscle disorders where weakness and atrophy are restricted to distal muscles, at least initially. In both congenital myasthenic syndromes and distal myopathies, a significant number of patients remain genetically undiagnosed. Here, we report five patients from three unrelated families with a strikingly homogenous clinical entity combining congenital myasthenia with distal muscle weakness and atrophy reminiscent of a distal myopathy. MRI and neurophysiological studies were compatible with mild myopathy restricted to distal limb muscles, but decrement (up to 72%) in response to 3 Hz repetitive nerve stimulation pointed towards a neuromuscular transmission defect. Post-exercise increment (up to 285%) was observed in the distal limb muscles in all cases suggesting presynaptic congenital myasthenic syndrome. Immunofluorescence and ultrastructural analyses of muscle end-plate regions showed synaptic remodelling with denervation–reinnervation events. We performed whole-exome sequencing in two kinships and Sanger sequencing in one isolated case and identified five new recessive mutations in the gene encoding agrin. This synaptic proteoglycan with critical function at the neuromuscular junction was previously found mutated in more typical forms of congenital myasthenic syndrome. In our patients, we found two missense mutations residing in the N-terminal agrin domain, which reduced acetylcholine receptors clustering activity of agrin in vitro. Our findings expand the spectrum of congenital myasthenic syndromes due to agrin mutations and show an unexpected correlation between the mutated gene and the associated phenotype. This provides a good rationale for examining patients with apparent distal myopathy for a neuromuscular transmission disorder and agrin mutations.

Brain 2014

Novel recessive myotilin mutation causes severe myofibrillar myopathy.

We identified the first homozygous and hence recessive mutation in the myotilin gene (MYOT) in a family affected by a severe myofibrillar myopathy (MFM). MFM is a rare, progressive and devastating disease of human skeletal muscle with distinct histopathological pattern of protein aggregates and myofibrillar degeneration. So far, only heterozygous missense mutations in MYOT have been associated with autosomal dominant myofibrillar myopathy, limb-girdle muscular dystrophy type 1A and distal myopathy. Myotilin itself is highly expressed in skeletal and cardiac muscle and is localized at the Z-disc and therefore interacts in sarcomere assembly. We performed whole-exome sequencing in a German family clinically diagnosed with MFM and identified a homozygous mutation in exon 2, c.16C > G (p.Arg6Gly). Using laser microdissection followed by quantitative mass spectrometry, we identified the myotilin protein as one component showing the highest increased abundance in the aggregates in the index patient. We suggest that the combined approach has a high potential as a new tool for the confirmation of unclassified variants which are found in whole-exome sequencing approaches.

Neurogenetics 2014

C9orf72 and UNC13A are shared risk loci for ALS and FTD: A genome-wide meta-analysis.

Objective: Substantial clinical, pathological and genetic overlap exists between amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia (FTD). TDP-43 inclusions have been found in both ALS and FTD cases (FTD-TDP). Recently, a repeat expansion in C9orf72 was identified as the causal variant in a proportion of ALS and FTD cases. We sought to identify additional evidence for a common genetic basis for the spectrum of ALS-FTD. Methods: We used published GWAS data of 4,377 ALS patients and 13,017 controls and 435 pathology-proven FTD-TDP cases and 1,414 controls for genotype imputation. Data were analyzed in a joint meta-analysis, by replicating topmost associated hits of one disease in the other, and by using a conservative rank products analysis, allocating equal weight to ALS and FTD-TDP sample sizes. Results: Meta-analysis identified 19 genome-wide significant single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) at C9orf72 on chromosome 9p21.2 (lowest p=2.6×10-12 ) and one SNP in UNC13A on chromosome 19p13.11 (p=1.0×10-11 ) as shared susceptibility loci for ALS and FTD-TDP. Conditioning on the 9p21.2 genotype increased statistical significance at UNC13A. A third signal, on chromosome 8q24.13 at the SPG8 locus coding for strumpellin, (p=3.91×10-7 ) was replicated in an independent cohort of 4,056 ALS patients and 3,958 controls (p=0.026; combined analysis p=1.01×10-7 ). Interpretation: We identified common genetic variants at C9orf72, but in addition in UNC13A that are shared between ALS and FTD. UNC13A provides a novel link between ALS and FTD-TDP, and identifies changes in neurotransmitter release and synaptic function as a converging 

Ann. Neurol. 2014

A mitochondrial origin for frontotemporal dementia and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis through CHCHD10 involvement.

Mitochondrial DNA instability disorders are responsible for a large clinical spectrum, among which amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-like symptoms and frontotemporal dementia are extremely rare. We report a large family with a late-onset phenotype including motor neuron disease, cognitive decline resembling frontotemporal dementia, cerebellar ataxia and myopathy. In all patients, muscle biopsy showed ragged-red and cytochrome c oxidase-negative fibres with combined respiratory chain deficiency and abnormal assembly of complex V. The multiple mitochondrial DNA deletions found in skeletal muscle revealed a mitochondrial DNA instability disorder. Patient fibroblasts present with respiratory chain deficiency, mitochondrial ultrastructural alterations and fragmentation of the mitochondrial network. Interestingly, expression of matrix-targeted photoactivatable GFP showed that mitochondrial fusion was not inhibited in patient fibroblasts. Using whole-exome sequencing we identified a missense mutation (c.176C>T; p.Ser59Leu) in the CHCHD10 gene that encodes a coiled-coil helix coiled-coil helix protein, whose function is unknown. We show that CHCHD10 is a mitochondrial protein located in the intermembrane space and enriched at cristae junctions. Overexpression of a CHCHD10 mutant allele in HeLa cells led to fragmentation of the mitochondrial network and ultrastructural major abnormalities including loss, disorganization and dilatation of cristae. The observation of a frontotemporal dementia-amyotrophic lateral sclerosis phenotype in a mitochondrial disease led us to analyse CHCHD10 in a cohort of 21 families with pathologically proven frontotemporal dementia-amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. We identified the same missense p.Ser59Leu mutation in one of these families. This work opens a novel field to explore the pathogenesis of the frontotemporal dementia-amyotrophic lateral sclerosis clinical spectrum by showing that mitochondrial disease may be at the origin of some of these phenotypes.

BRAIN 2014

Cerebellar Ataxia and Glutamic Acid Decarboxylase Antibodies Immunologic Profile and Long-term Effect of Immunotherapy

Design, Setting, and Participants  Retrospective cohort study and laboratory investigations at a center for autoimmune neurologic disorders among 34 patients with CA and GAD65-Abs, including 25 with long-term follow-up data (median, 5.4 years; interquartile range, 3.1-10.3 years).
Main Outcomes and Measures  Analysis of clinicoimmunologic features and predictors of response to immunotherapy. Immunochemistry on rat brain, cultured neurons, and human embryonic kidney cells expressing GAD65, GAD67, α1-subunit of the glycine receptor, and a repertoire of known cell surface autoantigens were used to identify additional antibodies. Twenty-eight patients with stiff person syndrome and GAD65-Abs served as controls.
Results  The median age of patients was 58 years (range, 33-80 years); 28 of 34 patients (82%) were women. Nine patients (26%) reported episodes of brainstem and cerebellar dysfunction or persistent vertigo several months before developing CA. The clinical presentation was subacute during a period of weeks in 13 patients (38%). Nine patients (26%) had coexisting stiff person syndrome symptoms. Systemic organ-specific autoimmunities (type 1 diabetes mellitus and others) were present in 29 patients (85%). Twenty of 25 patients with long-term follow-up data received immunotherapy (intravenous immunoglobulin in 10 and corticosteroids and intravenous immunoglobulin or other immunosuppressors in 10), and 7 of them (35%) improved. Predictors of clinical response included subacute onset of CA (odds ratio [OR], 0.50; 95% CI, 0.25-0.99; P = .047) and prompt immunotherapy (OR, 0.98; 95% CI, 0.96-0.99; P = .01). Similar frequencies of serum GAD67-Abs were found in patients with CA (24 of 34 patients [71%]) and in patients with stiff person syndrome (20 of 28 patients [71%]). However, GAD67-Abs were found in all of the cerebrospinal fluid samples examined (22 samples from patients with CA and 17 samples from patients with stiff person syndrome). Glycine receptor antibodies but not other cell surface antibodies were identified in 4 patients with CA. The presence of glycine receptor antibodies did not correlate with any specific clinical feature.
Conclusions and Relevance  In patients with CA and GAD65-Abs, subacute onset of symptoms and prompt immunotherapy are associated with good outcome. Persistent vertigo or brainstem and cerebellar episodes can herald CA and should lead to GAD65-Ab testing, particularly in patients with systemic organ-specific autoimmunities.

JAMA Neurology 2014

Antibodies to Delta/Notch-like Epidermal Growth Factor–Related Receptor in Patients With Anti-Tr, Paraneoplastic Cerebellar Degeneration, and Hodgkin Lymphoma

Importance  The anti-Tr immune response is associated with paraneoplastic cerebellar degeneration and Hodgkin lymphoma (HL). One case series has reported that the Delta/notch-like epidermal growth factor–related receptor (DNER) is the actual target for anti-Tr antibodies, but this result has not been replicated.
Objective  To describe a patient with anti-Tr and confirm that DNER is the autoantigen for a series of patients with anti-Tr.
Design, Setting, and Participants  Observational study and analysis of biological samples for antibodies to DNER at the hospital of the University of Pennsylvania. We examined a cerebrospinal fluid sample from 1 patient with anti-Tr and serum and/or cerebrospinal fluid samples from 5 other patients with anti-Tr.
Exposure  Transfection of HEK293T and Hela cells to express DNER coupled to an enhanced green fluorescent protein tag using a plasmid previously used to detect human DNER antibodies.
Results  A man in his 30s with paraneoplastic cerebellar degeneration and anti-Tr underwent treatment with corticosteroids and intravenous immunoglobulin, resulting in clinical improvement before chemotherapy. Despite close oncologic follow-up, a biopsy, positron emission tomography, and computed tomography, he was not diagnosed as having HL until 6 months after symptom onset. The cerebrospinal fluid sample from this patient reacted with cells transfected to express DNER, as did cerebrospinal fluid and/or serum samples from 5 other patients with paraneoplastic cerebellar degeneration, HL, and anti-Tr. Only 4 of the 5 serum samples reacted to permeabilized cells enough to be distinguished from background, but all 5 serum samples convincingly labeled live cells, which had considerably less background. All 6 control serum samples and 1 serum sample from a patient previously diagnosed as having anti-Tr (but without HL or cerebellitis) did not recognize DNER.
Conclusions and Relevance  This case demonstrates the importance of testing for the anti-Tr immune response in patients with cerebellar degeneration. The strong association of anti-Tr with HL requires careful surveillance for this tumor. We also confirm that DNER is the target antigen of the anti-Tr immune response. Screening for DNER antibodies against living transfected cells may offer an improved signal-to-noise characteristic compared with immunostaining of fixed, permeabilized cells.

JAMA Neurology 2014

Droxidopa for neurogenic orthostatic hypotension

Objective: To determine whether droxidopa, an oral norepinephrine precursor, improves symptomatic neurogenic orthostatic hypotension (nOH).
Methods: Patients with symptomatic nOH due to Parkinson disease, multiple system atrophy, pure autonomic failure, or nondiabetic autonomic neuropathy underwent open-label droxidopa dose optimization (100–600 mg 3 times daily), followed, in responders, by 7-day washout and then a 7-day double-blind trial of droxidopa vs placebo. Outcome measures included patient self-ratings on the Orthostatic Hypotension Questionnaire (OHQ), a validated, nOH-specific tool that assesses symptom severity and symptom impact on daily activities.
Results: From randomization to endpoint (n = 162), improvement in mean OHQ composite score favored droxidopa over placebo by 0.90 units (p = 0.003). Improvement in OHQ symptom subscore favored droxidopa by 0.73 units (p = 0.010), with maximum change in “dizziness/lightheadedness.” Improvement in symptom-impact subscore favored droxidopa by 1.06 units (p = 0.003), with maximum change for “standing a long time.” Mean standing systolic blood pressure (BP) increased by 11.2 vs 3.9 mm Hg (p < 0.001), and mean supine systolic BP by 7.6 vs 0.8 mm Hg (p < 0.001). At endpoint, supine systolic BP >180 mm Hg was observed in 4.9% of droxidopa and 2.5% of placebo recipients. Adverse events reported in ≥3% of double-blind droxidopa recipients were headache (7.4%) and dizziness (3.7%). No patients discontinued double-blind treatment because of adverse events.
Conclusions: In patients with symptomatic nOH, droxidopa improved symptoms and symptom impact on daily activities, with an associated increase in standing systolic BP, and was generally well tolerated.
Classification of evidence: This study provides Class I evidence that in patients with symptomatic nOH who respond to open-label droxidopa, droxidopa improves subjective and objective manifestation of nOH at 7 days.

Neurology 2014