Absence of consensus in diagnostic criteria for familial neurodegenerative diseases
ABSTRACT A small proportion of cases seen in neurodegenerative conditions such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer disease are familial. These familial cases are usually clinically indistinguishable from sporadic cases. Identifying familial cases is important both in terms of clinical guidance for family members and for gene discovery.
Surveys assessing the definition of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FALS) were completed by clinicians with an interest in ALS.
95 surveys were completed by respondents from 15 countries. A third of total respondents stated that they thought that neurologists were using the same definition for FALS (33.3%, 30). No consensus was achieved among clinicians when provided with five different definitions for FALS. However, the preferred definition was 'a patient with ALS with either a first or second degree relative also with ALS' (37.8%, 31).
There is no consensus on a standard definition for FALS among clinicians. It is likely that similar inconsistencies apply to other conditions, such as Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer disease, in which both familial and sporadic diseases occur. Inconsistent classification could hinder gene discovery.
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ABSTRACT: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease of upper and lower motor neurons, associated with frontotemporal dementia (FTD) in about 14% of incident cases. We assessed the frequency of the recently identified C9orf72 repeat expansion in familial and apparently sporadic cases of ALS and characterised the cognitive and clinical phenotype of patients with this expansion. A population-based register of patients with ALS has been in operation in Ireland since 1995, and an associated DNA bank has been in place since 1999. 435 representative DNA samples from the bank were screened using repeat-primed PCR for the presence of a GGGGCC repeat expansion in C9orf72. We assessed clinical, cognitive, behavioural, MRI, and survival data from 191 (44%) of these patients, who comprised a population-based incident group and had previously participated in a longitudinal study of cognitive and behavioural changes in ALS. Samples from the DNA bank included 49 cases of known familial ALS and 386 apparently sporadic cases. Of these samples, 20 (41%) cases of familial ALS and 19 (5%) cases of apparently sporadic ALS had the C9orf72 repeat expansion. Of the 191 patients for whom phenotype data were available, 21 (11%) had the repeat expansion. Age at disease onset was lower in patients with the repeat expansion (mean 56·3 [SD 8·3] years) than in those without (61·3 [10·6] years; p=0·043). A family history of ALS or FTD was present in 18 (86%) of those with the repeat expansion. Patients with the repeat expansion had significantly more co-morbid FTD than patients without the repeat (50%vs 12%), and a distinct pattern of non-motor cortex changes on high-resolution 3 T magnetic resonance structural neuroimaging. Age-matched univariate analysis showed shorter survival (20 months vs 26 months) in patients with the repeat expansion. Multivariable analysis showed an increased hazard rate of 1·9 (95% 1·1-3·7; p=0·035) in those patients with the repeat expansion compared with patients without the expansion Patients with ALS and the C9orf72 repeat expansion seem to present a recognisable phenotype characterised by earlier disease onset, the presence of cognitive and behavioural impairment, specific neuroimaging changes, a family history of neurodegeneration with autosomal dominant inheritance, and reduced survival. Recognition of patients with ALS who carry an expanded repeat is likely to be important in the context of appropriate disease management, stratification in clinical trials, and in recognition of other related phenotypes in family members. Health Seventh Framework Programme, Health Research Board, Research Motor Neuron, Irish Motor Neuron Disease Association, The Motor Neurone Disease Association of Great Britain and Northern Ireland, ALS Association.The Lancet Neurology 03/2012; 11(3):232-40. DOI:10.1016/S1474-4422(12)70014-5 · 21.90 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an unrelenting progressive neurodegenerative disease causing progressive weakness, ultimately leading to death. Despite aggressive research, the pathways leading to neuronal death are incompletely understood. Riluzole is the only drug clinically proven to enhance survival of ALS patients, but its mechanism of action is not clearly understood. In this article, the proposed pathophysiology of ALS is reviewed including glutamate excitotoxicity, oxidative stress, mitochondrial dysfunction, autoimmune mechanisms, protein aggregation, SOD1 accumulation, and neuronal death. Based on these mechanisms, past major ALS drug studies will be reviewed as well as promising current ALS drug studies, focusing on the advancement of these studies from the bench to the patient's bedside.Seminars in Neurology 07/2012; 32(3):173-8. DOI:10.1055/s-0032-1329193 · 1.79 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Objective: To classify familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (FALS) on the base of family history, and to determine whether frequency of mutations in major amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) genes varies in different FALS categories. Methods: Included in the study are 53 FALS families. Patients were classified as definite, probable and possible FALS, according to recently proposed criteria. Seven ALS-associated genes, including SOD1, TARDBP, FUS, ANG, ATXN2, OPTN and C9ORF72, were analysed. Results: Thirteen patients (24.5%) were included in the definite group. The great majority of our FALS cases (40/53, 75.5%) were families with only two affected relatives; of these, 31 (58.5%) were included in the probable, and 9 (17%) in the possible FALS categories. The percentage of mutations was 61.5% in definite, 41.9% in probable and 11.1% in possible FALS. With respect to probable FALS, if cases with parent-to-child transmission of the disease were considered separately, the mutational load increased to 61.5%, as observed in definite FALS. Conclusions: Our findings provide evidence that frequency of mutations in currently known ALS genes varies widely among different FALS categories. Families with only two affected relatives have heterogeneous genetic components, the chance to detect mutations being higher in cases with parent-to-child transmission.Journal of neurology, neurosurgery, and psychiatry 07/2012; 83(12). DOI:10.1136/jnnp-2012-302897 · 6.81 Impact Factor