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Acta Neuropathol. 2008 Jan;115(1):133-45. Epub 2007 Aug 23.

Pathological TDP-43 in parkinsonism-dementia complex and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis of Guam.

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  • 1Center for Neurodegenerative Disease Research, Department of Pathology and Laboratory Medicine, Alzheimer's Disease Core Center, Institute on Aging, University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine, Philadelphia, PA, 19104-4283, USA.


Pathological TDP-43 is the major disease protein in frontotemporal lobar degeneration characterized by ubiquitin inclusions (FTLD-U) with/without motor neuron disease (MND) and in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). As Guamanian parkinsonism-dementia complex (PDC) or Guamanian ALS (G-PDC or G-ALS) of the Chamorro population may present clinically similar to FTLD-U and ALS, TDP-43 pathology may be present in the G-PDC and G-ALS. Thus, we examined cortical or spinal cord samples from 54 Guamanian subjects for evidence of TDP-43 pathology. In addition to cortical neurofibrillary and glial tau pathology, G-PDC was associated with cortical TDP-43 positive dystrophic neurites and neuronal and glial inclusions in gray and/or white matter. Biochemical analyses showed the presence of FTLD-U-like insoluble TDP-43 in G-PDC, but not in Guam controls (G-C). Spinal cord pathology of G-PDC or G-ALS was characterized by tau positive tangles as well as TDP-43 positive inclusions in lower motor neurons and glial cells. G-C had variable tau and negligible TDP-43 pathology. These results indicate that G-PDC and G-ALS are associated with pathological TDP-43 similar to FTLD-U with/without MND as well as ALS, and that neocortical or hippocampal TDP-43 pathology distinguishes controls from disease subjects better than tau pathology. Finally, we conclude that the spectrum of TDP-43 proteinopathies should be expanded to include neurodegenerative cognitive and motor diseases, affecting the Chamorro population of Guam.

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