To systematically study somatic variants arising during development in the human brain across a spectrum of neurodegenerative disorders. In this study we developed a pipeline to identify somatic variants from exome sequencing data in 1461 diseased and control human brains. Eighty-eight percent of the DNA samples were extracted from the cerebellum. Identified somatic variants were validated by targeted amplicon sequencing and/or PyroMark® Q24. We observed somatic coding variants present in >10% of sampled cells in at least 1% of brains. The mutational signature of the detected variants showed a predominance of C>T variants most consistent with arising from DNA mismatch repair, occurred frequently in genes that are highly expressed within the central nervous system, and with a minimum somatic mutation rate of 4.25 × 10 per base pair per individual. These findings provide proof-of-principle that deleterious somatic variants can affect sizeable brain regions in at least 1% of the population, and thus have the potential to contribute to the pathogenesis of common neurodegenerative diseases.
The mechanisms of neuronal apoptosis in prion diseases are unclear. Experimental studies suggest that it may result from 2 associated mechanisms: glutamate-mediated excitotoxicity and oxidative stress. Recent studies showed that activated macrophages/microglia (AMM) express excitatory amino acid transporters (EAATs) in HIV infection, suggesting that they may play a neuroprotective role by clearing extra-cellular glutamate and producing anti-oxidant glutathione. In order to test this hypothesis in prion diseases, samples from cerebral cortex, striatum, thalamus, and cerebellum from 14 patients with Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (8 sporadic, 2 familial, 2 iatrogenic, and 2 variant), and 4 with fatal familial insomnia (3 homozygous Met/Met at codon 129 of the PRNP gene, 1 heterozygous Met/Val), and 3 controls were immunostained for EAAT-1, GFAP, HLA-DR, CD68, IL-1, caspase 3, and PrP. In prion diseases, EAAT-1 immunopositivity was found in affected areas. Only AMM, interstitial, perivascular, perineuronal (sometimes around apoptotic neurons), or close to reactive astrocytes, expressed EAAT-1. Astrocyte EAAT-1 expression was scarcely detectable in controls and was not detected in prion disease cases. The proportion of AMM expressing EAAT-1 did not correlate with the severity of neuronal apoptosis, spongiosis, astrocytosis, microgliosis, or PrP deposition, but only with disease duration. Occasional EAAT-1 expressing AMM were found in patients with short survival, whereas diffuse EAAT-1 expression by AMM was observed in cases with long survival (24 to 33 months) that most often were heterozygous for Met/Val at codon 129 of the PRNP gene. Our findings suggest that AMM may develop a partial neuroprotective function in long-lasting prion diseases, although it does not seem to efficiently prevent neurological and neuropathological deterioration. Whether this neuroprotective function of microglia is the cause or the effect of longer survival needs to be clarified.
The neuropathological features human prion diseases comprise spongiform change, neuronal loss, astrocytic and microglial proliferation and the accumulation of the abnormal isoform of prion protein (PrPRES) in the central nervous system. Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a novel human prion disease which appears to result from infection by the bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE) agent. The neuropathology of variant CJD shows morphological and immunocytochemical characteristics distinct from all other types of human prion disease, and is characterised by abundant florid and cluster plaques in the cerebrum and cerebellum, and widespread accumulation of PrPRES on immunocytochemistry. Spongiform change is most marked in the caudate nucleus and putamen, and the thalamus exhibits severe neuronal loss and gliosis, which is most marked in the posterior nuclei and correlates with the areas of high signal seen in the posterior thalamus on MRI examination of the brain. Western blot analysis of PrPRES on frozen brain tissue in variant CJD tissue shows a uniform isotype, with a glycoform ratio distinct from sporadic CJD. PrPRES accumulation is widespread in lymphoid tissues in vCJD. All cases of variant CJD are methionine homozygotes at codon 129 of the PrP gene. Histological and biochemical techniques will be required to identify cases of 'human BSE' in individuals who are MV or VV at codon 129 of the PrP gene. Continued surveillance is required to investigate this possibility in the UK and other countries where BSE has been reported.
SUV ratios (SUVRs) are used for relative quantification of F-florbetaben scans. The cerebellar cortex can be used as a reference region for quantification. However, cerebellar amyloid-β (Aβ) plaques may be present in Alzheimer disease (AD). The aim of this study was to assess the influence of Aβ pathology, including neuritic plaques, diffuse plaques, and vascular deposits, in F-florbetaben SUVR when cerebellum is used as the reference. Using immunohistochemistry to demonstrate Aβ plaques and vascular deposits, and using the Bielschowsky method to demonstrate neuritic plaques, we performed a neuropathologic assessment of the frontal, occipital, anterior cingulate, and posterior cingulate cerebral cortices and the cerebellar cortex of 87 end-of-life patients (64 with AD, 14 with other types of dementia, and 9 nondemented aged volunteers; mean age ± SD, 80.4 ± 10.2 y) who had undergone F-florbetaben PET before death. The lesions were rated as absent (none or sparse) or present (moderate or frequent). Mean cortical SUVRs were compared among cases with different cerebellar Aβ loads. None of the 83 evaluable cerebellar samples showed frequent diffuse Aβ or neuritic plaques; 8 samples showed frequent vascular Aβ deposits. Diffuse Aβ plaques were rated as absent in 78 samples (94%) and present in 5 samples (6%). Vascular Aβ was rated as absent in 62 samples (74.7%) and present in 21 samples (25.3%). No significant differences in cerebellar SUVs were found among cases with different amounts or types of Aβ deposits in the cerebral cortex. Both diffuse and neuritic plaques were found in the cerebral cortex of 26-44 cases. No significant SUVR differences were found between these brains with different cerebellar Aβ loads. The effect of cerebellar plaques on cortical F-florbetaben SUVRs appears to be negligible even in advanced stages of AD with a higher cerebellar Aβ load.
Genetic factors are implicated in the aetiology of sporadic late-onset neurodegenerative diseases. Whether these genetic variants are predominantly common or rare, and how multiple genetic factors interact with each other to cause disease is poorly understood. Inherited prion diseases are highly heterogeneous and may be clinically mistaken for sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease because of a negative family history. Here we report our investigation of patients from the UK with four extra octapeptide repeats, which suggest that the risk of clinical disease is increased by a combination of the mutation and a susceptibility haplotype on the wild-type chromosome. The predominant clinical syndrome is a progressive cortical dementia with pyramidal signs, myoclonus and cerebellar abnormalities that closely resemble sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease. Autopsy shows perpendicular deposits of prion protein in the molecular layer of the cerebellum. Identity testing, PRNP microsatellite haplotyping and genealogical work confirm no cryptic close family relationships and suggests multiple progenitor disease haplotypes. All patients were homozygous for methionine at polymorphic codon 129. In addition, at a single nucleotide polymorphism upstream of PRNP thought to confer susceptibility to sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (rs1029273), all patients were homozygous for the risk allele (combined P=5.9×10(-5)). The haplotype identified may also be a risk factor in other partially penetrant inherited prion diseases although it does not modify age of onset. Blood expression of PRNP in healthy individuals was modestly higher in carriers of the risk haplotype. These findings may provide a precedent for understanding apparently sporadic neurodegenerative diseases caused by rare high-risk mutations.
The purpose of this study was to identify risk factors for the progression of low-grade glioma in children from a large population-based cohort. Patient and tumor details of a national cohort of children with low-grade glioma, recruited into an international multidisciplinary clinical strategy, were subjected to univariate and multivariate analyses of progression-free survival and overall survival. From the cohort of 798 patients, 639 patients were eligible, with a median age 6.71 years (0.26-16.75 years); 49% were males; 15.9% had neurofibromatosis type 1, 63.7% pilocytic astrocytoma, 5.9% fibrillary astrocytoma, 4.2% mixed neuronal-glial tumors, and 3.6% others; 21.1% were diagnosed clinically. Anatomically implicated were 31.6% cerebellum, 24.6% chiasma/hypothalamus, 16.0% cerebral hemispheres, 9.9% brain stem, 6.1% other supratentorial midline structures, 5.9% optic nerve only, 4.5% spinal cord, and 1.4% others. The 5-year overall survival and progression-free survival in the whole cohort were 94.6% and 69.4%, respectively. There was a significant association between age and site (P < .001) and extent of tumor resection and site (P < .001). Multivariate analysis identified young age, fibrillary astrocytoma, and extent of surgical resection as significant independent risk factors for progression. Hypothalamic/chiasmatic tumors demonstrated the most sustained tendency to progress. In conclusion, the influence of age and anatomical site upon the risk of tumor progression suggests that these factors strongly influence tumor behavior for the majority of pilocytic tumors. Age <1 year and 1-5 years, fibrillary histology, completeness of resection, and chiasmatic location are candidates for stratification in future studies.
Human prion diseases can be sporadic, inherited or acquired by infection and show considerable phenotypic heterogeneity. We describe the clinical, histopathological and pathological prion protein (PrP(Sc)) characteristics of a Dutch family with a novel 7-octapeptide repeat insertion (7-OPRI) in PRNP, the gene encoding the prion protein (PrP). Clinical features were available in four, neuropathological features in three and biochemical characteristics in two members of this family. The clinical phenotype was characterized by slowly progressive cognitive decline, personality change, lethargy, depression with anxiety and panic attacks, apraxia and a hypokinetic-rigid syndrome. Neuropathological findings consisted of numerous multi- and unicentric amyloid plaques throughout the cerebrum and cerebellum with varying degrees of spongiform degeneration. Genetic and molecular studies were performed in two male family members. One of them was homozygous for valine and the other heterozygous for methionine and valine at codon 129 of PRNP. Sequence analysis identified a novel 168 bp insertion [R2-R2-R2-R2-R3g-R2-R2] in the octapeptide repeat region of PRNP. Both patients carried the mutation on the allele with valine at codon 129. Western blot analysis showed type 1 PrP(Sc) in both patients and detected a smaller ~8 kDa PrP(Sc) fragment in the cerebellum in one patient. The features of this Dutch kindred define an unusual neuropathological phenotype and a novel PRNP haplotype among the previously documented 7-OPRI mutations, further expanding the spectrum of genotype-phenotype correlations in inherited prion diseases.
The vacuolation, neuronal loss and gliosis that characterize human prion disease pathology are accompanied by the accumulation of an aggregated, insoluble and protease-resistant form (termed PrP(Sc)) of the host-encoded normal cellular prion protein (PrP(C)). In variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease the frontal cortex and cerebellum exhibit intense vacuolation and the accumulation of PrP(Sc) in the form of amyloid plaques and plaque-like structures. In contrast the posterior thalamus is characterized by intense gliosis and neuronal loss, but PrP(Sc) plaques are rare and vacuolation is patchy. We have used sucrose density gradient centrifugation coupled with conformation dependent immunoassay to examine the biochemical properties of the PrP(Sc) that accumulates in these different brain regions. The results show a greater degree of PrP(Sc) polydisperal in thalamus compared with frontal cortex or cerebellum, including a subpopulation PrP(Sc) molecules in the thalamus that have sedimentation properties resembling those of PrP(C). Much effort has focused on identifying aspects of PrP(Sc) biochemistry that distinguish between different forms of human prion disease and contribute to differential diagnosis. Here we show that PrP(Sc) sedimentation properties, which can depend on aggregation state, correlate with, and may underlie the distinct neurodegenerative processes occurring in different regions of the variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease brain.