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  • Neurochemical biomarkers in the diagnosis of frontotemporal lobar degeneration: an update.

    28 June 2018

    Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is a spectrum of rare neurodegenerative diseases with overlapping symptoms and neuropathology. It includes the behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD), the semantic and non-fluent variant of primary progressive aphasia (svPPA and nfvPPA), FTD with motor neuron disease (FTD-MND), progressive supranuclear palsy, and corticobasal syndrome. The diagnosis of the FTLD spectrum of diseases is based on clinical symptoms which hampers the differentiation of the diseases among each other and with other disorders that show a similar clinical appearance resulting in a high rate of misdiagnoses. This highlights the need for objective and selective measures in the diagnostic criteria and there is extensive research on neurochemical biomarkers in FTLD as one option to address this unmet clinical need. Here, we review the advances in CSF biomarker research in FTLD in the last 2 years with regard to the validation of previously suggested and identification of new biomarker candidates for the differential diagnosis of FTLD. New biomarkers for frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) are urgently needed to support differential diagnosis within the disease spectrum and with related neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer disease (AD). Here, we review the advances in cerebrospinal fluid biomarker research in FTLD and provide a list of promising candidate markers.

  • Cerebrospinal fluid proteomics and protein biomarkers in frontotemporal lobar degeneration: Current status and future perspectives.

    28 June 2018

    Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) comprises a spectrum of rare neurodegenerative diseases with an estimated prevalence of 15-22 cases per 100,000 persons including the behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD), progressive non-fluent aphasia (PNFA), semantic dementia (SD), FTD with motor neuron disease (FTD-MND), progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) and corticobasal syndrome (CBS). The pathogenesis of the diseases is still unclear and clinical diagnosis of FTLD is hampered by overlapping symptoms within the FTLD subtypes and with other neurodegenerative diseases such as Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Parkinson's disease (PD). Intracellular protein aggregates in the brain are a major hallmark of FTLD and implicate alterations in protein metabolism or function in the disease's pathogenesis. Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) which surrounds the brain can be used to study changes in neurodegenerative diseases and to identify disease-related mechanisms or neurochemical biomarkers for diagnosis. In the present review, we will give an overview of the current literature on proteomic studies in CSF of FTLD patients. Reports of targeted and unbiased proteomic approaches are included and the results are discussed in regard of their informative value about disease pathology and the suitability to be used as diagnostic biomarkers. Finally, we will give some future perspectives on CSF proteomics and a list of candidate biomarkers which might be interesting for validation in further studies. This article is part of a Special Issue entitled: Neuroproteomics: Applications in neuroscience and neurology.

  • Elevated glial fibrillary acidic protein levels in the cerebrospinal fluid of patients with narcolepsy.

    28 June 2018

    Glial fibrillary acidic protein (GFAP) is an established indicator of astrogliosis. Therefore, variable cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) concentrations of this protein might reflect disease-specific pathologic profiles. In patients with narcolepsy, a loss of hypocretin-1 (hcrt-1) neurons in the brain and low concentrations of hcrt-1 in CSF have been reported. We performed a commercially available enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay to investigate if GFAP also is altered in the CSF of these patients. Here we detected significantly higher CSF levels of GFAP in patients with low hcrt-1 levels, of which the majority had a diagnosis of narcolepsy and cataplexy (NC); however, this finding was not observed in patients with hcrt-1 levels that were within reference range. In conclusion, GFAP may be useful as an additional disease biomarker in patients with narcolepsy, and this hypothesis should be investigated in larger studies.

  • Progranulin as a candidate biomarker for therapeutic trial in patients with ALS and FTLD.

    28 June 2018

    The loss-of-function mechanism in progranulin (PGRN) mutation carriers makes PGRN an interesting target for upregulation as a therapeutic approach in neurodegenerative diseases like frontotemporal lobar degeneration. This gives rise to several questions: (1) how stable are PGRN levels in blood and cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) in follow-up? (2) Is it necessary to measure PGRN levels in CSF to monitor a therapeutic effect? Therefore, concentrations of PGRN were measured in paired CSF and serum samples of 22 patients with behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia, including one GRN mutation carrier (c.349+1G>C), 16 patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and 17 non-neurodegenerative patients, which included 22 follow-up levels. PGRN levels of 14 patients with isolated dysfunction of the blood-CSF barrier were measured and PGRN was correlated with albumin quotients as a marker for blood-CSF barrier function. The intrathecal fraction of PGRN was calculated on the basis of CSF-to-serum ratios and hydrodynamic properties. Follow-up measurements of CSF and serum PGRN levels did not show any significant change in diagnostic groups. Mean PGRN levels are 35 times higher in blood than in CSF. However, the CSF-to-serum PGRN ratio does not correlate with the albumin quotient even in patients with severe impairment of the blood-CSF barrier. The calculated intrathecal fraction of CSF PGRN levels ranged between 80 and 90 %. Assuming that CSF PGRN is either brain-derived or transported from the vascular compartment via receptor mediated mechanisms, we propose that monitoring CNS specific effects of PGRN modulating drugs should be done in CSF.

  • Neurofilaments in the diagnosis of motoneuron diseases: a prospective study on 455 patients.

    28 June 2018

    OBJECTIVES: Biomarkers for the diagnosis of motoneuron diseases (MND) are urgently needed to improve the diagnostic pathway, patient stratification and monitoring. The aim of this study was to validate candidate markers for MND in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) and specify cut-offs based on large patient cohorts by especially considering patients who were seen under the initial differential diagnosis (MND mimics). METHODS: In a prospective study, we investigated CSF of 455 patients for neurofilament light chain (NfL), phosphorylated heavy chain (pNfH), tau protein (Tau) and phospho-tau protein (pTau). Analysed cohorts included patients with apparently sporadic and familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and primary lateral sclerosis (PLS) (MND, n=253), MND mimics (n=85) and neurological control groups. Cut-off values were specified, and diagnostic performance and correlation with progression were analysed. RESULTS: Nfs were significantly higher in the MND group compared to the control groups, whereas Tau and pTau did not differ. At a cut-off level of 2200 pg/mL for NfL, a 77% diagnostic sensitivity (CI 71% to 82%), 85% specificity (CI 79% to 90%) and 87% positive predictive value (PPV) (CI 81% to 91%) were achieved. For pNfH, we calculated 83% sensitivity (CI 78% to 88%), 77% specificity (CI 71% to 83%) and 82% PPV (CI 77% to 86%) at 560 pg/mL. There were no significant differences between sporadic and genetic ALS or PLS. Nf levels were elevated at early disease stage, and correlated moderately with MND progression and duration. CONCLUSIONS: Neurofilaments in CSF have a high relevance for the differential diagnosis of MNDs and should be included in the diagnostic work-up of patients. Their value as prognostic markers should be investigated further.

  • Intact protein analysis of ubiquitin in cerebrospinal fluid by multiple reaction monitoring reveals differences in Alzheimer's disease and frontotemporal lobar degeneration.

    28 June 2018

    The impairment of the ubiquitin-proteasome system (UPS) is thought to be an early event in neurodegeneration, and monitoring UPS alterations might serve as a disease biomarker. Our aim was to establish an alternate method to antibody-based assays for the selective measurement of free monoubiquitin in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF). Free monoubiquitin was measured with liquid chromatography-multiple reaction monitoring mass spectrometry (LC-MS/MS) in CSF of patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD), amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), behavioral variant of frontotemporal dementia (bvFTD), Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), Parkinson's disease (PD), primary progressive aphasia (PPA), and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). The LC-MS/MS method showed excellent intra- and interassay precision (4.4-7.4% and 4.9-10.3%) and accuracy (100-107% and 100-106%). CSF ubiquitin concentration was increased compared with that of controls (33.0 ± 9.7 ng/mL) in AD (47.5 ± 13.1 ng/mL, p < 0.05) and CJD patients (171.5 ± 103.5 ng/mL, p < 0.001) but not in other neurodegenerative diseases. Receiver operating characteristic curve (ROC) analysis of AD vs control patients revealed an area under the curve (AUC) of 0.832, and the specificity and sensitivity were 75 and 75%, respectively. ROC analysis of AD and FTLD patients yielded an AUC of 0.776, and the specificity and sensitivity were 53 and 100%, respectively. In conclusion, our LC-MS/MS method may facilitate ubiquitin determination to a broader community and might help to discriminate AD, CJD, and FTLD patients.

  • Genetics and neurochemical biomarkers in ALS and FTLD

    28 June 2018

    Both amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) are progressive neurodegenerative diseases. In ALS, neurodegeneration results in progressive paralysis of muscles and finally in respiratory insufficiency. FTLD, on the other hand, progressively affects behavior, speech, and in some cases the motor system. Over recent years, some clinical overlapping of these syndromes with their common histopathology of aggregated TDP-43 in the cytoplasm of neurons resulted in the hypothesis that both syndromes are parts of a clinical as well as pathophysiological continuum. As a first step, mutations of the TDP-43 gene have been identified as possible molecular mechanism. Furthermore, a pathological repeat expansion of chromosome 9 - C9orf72 - is associated with 25-30 percent of all genetically determined cases of ALS and about 11 percent of the FTLD cases in Europe. However, 20% of the sporadic cases also have a C9orf72 expansion. Particularly in asymptomatic mutation carriers and in sporadic cases, the diagnosis at an early stage of the disease and reliable classification of the symptoms of ALS and FTLD is usually difficult. Therefore, it would be desirable to develop reliable and specific biomarkers that allow valid diagnosis and evaluation of prognosis. © Georg Thieme Verlag KG Stuttgart New York.

  • Recent biomarker approaches in the diagnosis of frontotemporal lobar degeneration

    28 June 2018

    Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is a heterogeneous group of syndromes with different symptoms. Frontotemporal lobar degeneration is mostly used as a clinical umbrella term for different diseases. In some clinical subtypes of the FTLD spectrum, a close correlation with underlying pathology can be found. Neuroimaging techniques, such as magnetic resonance imaging and position emission tomography help to detect neuroanatomical lesions and therefore obtain relevance for in vivo prediction of neurodegeneration. However, there is still a lack of neurochemical biomarkers helping to differentiate between underlying histopathologies. The following review gives an overview about present neurochemical biomarker studies and perspective approaches in the diagnosis of FTLD. © 2012 by Walter de Gruyter.

  • Distinct HLA associations of LGI1 and CASPR2-antibody diseases.

    17 August 2018

    The recent biochemical distinction between antibodies against leucine-rich, glioma-inactivated-1 (LGI1), contactin-associated protein-2 (CASPR2) and intracellular epitopes of voltage-gated potassium-channels (VGKCs) demands aetiological explanations. Given established associations between human leucocyte antigen (HLA) alleles and adverse drug reactions, and our clinical observation of frequent adverse drugs reactions in patients with LGI1 antibodies, we compared HLA alleles between healthy controls (n = 5553) and 111 Caucasian patients with VGKC-complex autoantibodies. In patients with LGI1 antibodies (n = 68), HLA-DRB1*07:01 was strongly represented [odds ratio = 27.6 (95% confidence interval 12.9-72.2), P = 4.1 × 10-26]. In contrast, patients with CASPR2 antibodies (n = 31) showed over-representation of HLA-DRB1*11:01 [odds ratio = 9.4 (95% confidence interval 4.6-19.3), P = 5.7 × 10-6]. Other allelic associations for patients with LGI1 antibodies reflected linkage, and significant haplotypic associations included HLA-DRB1*07:01-DQA1*02:01-DQB1*02:02, by comparison to DRB1*11:01-DQA1*05:01-DQB1*03:01 in CASPR2-antibody patients. Conditional analysis in LGI1-antibody patients resolved further independent class I and II associations. By comparison, patients with both LGI1 and CASPR2 antibodies (n = 3) carried yet another complement of HLA variants, and patients with intracellular VGKC antibodies (n = 9) lacked significant HLA associations. Within LGI1- or CASPR2-antibody patients, HLA associations did not correlate with clinical features. In silico predictions identified unique CASPR2- and LGI1-derived peptides potentially presented by the respective over-represented HLA molecules. These highly significant HLA associations dichotomize the underlying immunology in patients with LGI1 or CASPR2 antibodies, and inform T cell specificities and cellular interactions at disease initiation.

  • Enhancing the alignment of the preclinical and clinical stroke recovery research pipeline: Consensus-based core recommendations from the Stroke Recovery and Rehabilitation Roundtable translational working group.

    3 July 2018

    Stroke recovery research involves distinct biological and clinical targets compared to the study of acute stroke. Guidelines are proposed for the pre-clinical modeling of stroke recovery and for the alignment of pre-clinical studies to clinical trials in stroke recovery.

  • Translational Image Analysis Group

    16 August 2013

    FMRIB

    Our work focuses on translating imaging analysis methods to better understand processes such as brain maturation and ageing, and with a particular emphasis on neurodegenerative disorders (Alzheimer's, Parkinson's, Huntington's, ALS).

  • FMRI Acquisition and Reconstruction

    15 January 2013

    FMRIB

    We develop image acquisition and reconstruction techniques for functional MRI. These methods aim to provide higher spatial and temporal resolution, as well as greater sensitivity to brain activity.

  • FMRI Physiology

    15 January 2013

    FMRIB

    By understanding more about the BOLD signal that underlies functional MRI signal, we develop new techniques to quantify multiple aspects of brain physiology.

  • Microstructural Imaging

    15 January 2013

    FMRIB

    The fine-scale structure of brain tissue is crucial to neural function and health. We are developing MRI techniques that may enable non-invasive estimates of brain microstructure.

  • MR Spectroscopy

    15 January 2013

    FMRIB

    We develop methods for non-invasively measuring the molecular signatures of the brain in health and pathology.

  • Ultra High-Field MRI Physics

    15 January 2013

    FMRIB

    We develop techniques and hardware on the Centre’s 7 Tesla MRI scanner to offer neuroscientists exciting new possibilities to image the structure, function and biochemistry of the human brain.

  • Multiple Sclerosis Clinical Trials Unit

    15 January 2013

    DCN NDCN

    Our group aims to deliver the highest quality translational and clinical research within both investigator- and commercial-led clinical trials with a focus on relieving the disease burden of MS to patients and their carers.

  • Neurodegeneration and Inflammation Research Group

    15 January 2013

    DCN

    We explore the neuropathology of multiple sclerosis and other inflammatory and neurodegenerative diseases using a multidisciplinary team approach to post-mortem brain and spinal cord tissue. The aim is that the understanding derived from these studies will translate into ideas for improved treatments for living patients.