Aims: Accumulating evidence suggests that patients with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) can have pathologic accumulation of multiple proteins, including tau and TDP-43. This study aimed to determine the frequency and characteristics of concurrent tau pathology in FTLD with TDP-43 pathology (FTLD-TDP). Methods: The study included 146 autopsy-confirmed cases of FTLD-TDP and 55 cases of FTLD-TDP with motor neuron disease (FTLD-MND). Sections from the basal forebrain were screened for tau pathology with phosphorylated-tau immunohistochemistry. For cases with tau pathology on the screening section, additional brain sections were studied to establish a diagnosis. Genetic analysis of C9orf72, GRN and MAPT was performed on select cases. Results: We found 72 cases (36%) with primary age-related tauopathy (PART), 85 (42%) with ageing-related tau astrogliopathy (ARTAG), 45 (22%) with argyrophilic grain disease (AGD) and 2 cases (1%) with corticobasal degeneration (CBD). Patients with ARTAG or AGD were significantly older than those without these comorbidities. One of the patients with FTLD-TDP and CBD had C9orf72 mutation and relatively mild tau pathology, consistent with incidental CBD. Conclusion: The coexistence of TDP-43 and tau pathologies was relatively common, particularly PART and ARTAG. Although rare, patients with FTLD can have multiple neurodegenerative proteinopathies. The absence of TDP-43-positive astrocytic plaques may suggest that CBD and FTLD-TDP were independent disease processes in the two patients with both tau and TDP-43 pathologies. It remains to be determined if mixed cases represent a unique disease process or two concurrent disease processes in an individual.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Clinical Neurology
- Physiology (medical)