TDP-43 pathology and cognition in ALS: A prospective clinicopathologic correlation study

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Abstract

Objective:

Although a systematic spread of pathologic TDP-43 expression throughout the CNS in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) has been proposed, the relationship between cognition and the extent and neuroanatomic distribution of TDP-43 pathology has not received considerable attention.

Methods:

We investigated the association between cognitive functioning and the extent of TDP-43 pathology in postmortem CNS tissue from 18 patients with ALS stratified into 3 groups based on detailed prospective neuropsychological testing (cognitively not impaired, n = 6; cognitively impaired, n = 6; ALS– frontotemporal dementia [FTD], n = 6) and analyzed these cases for clinicopathologic correlations.

Results:

Our findings demonstrate a close relationship between cognition and the extent of TDP-43 pathology in non–primary motor areas with a striking difference between ALS-FTD and the 2 other cognitive groups. The specificity of our results was underscored by 2 key findings: first, the absence of an Alzheimer pathology effect, a common confounder in older patients; second, the lack of correlations between the primary motor regions with the highest TDP-43 intensity and cognitive status.

Conclusions:

Our data suggest a distinct dynamic of TDP-43 progression and distribution in ALS-FTD in contrast to ALS without FTD.

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