Gray matter changes in asymptomatic C9orf72 and GRN mutation carriers

Karteek Popuri, Emma Dowds, Mirza Faisal Beg, Rakesh Balachandar, Mahadev Bhalla, Claudia Jacova, Adrienne Buller, Penny Slack, Pheth Sengdy, Rosa Rademakers, Dana Wittenberg, Howard H. Feldman, Ian R. Mackenzie, Ging Yuek R. Hsiung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

13 Scopus citations


Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a neurodegenerative disease with a strong genetic basis. Understanding the structural brain changes during pre-symptomatic stages may allow for earlier diagnosis of patients suffering from FTD; therefore, we investigated asymptomatic members of FTD families with mutations in C9orf72 and granulin (GRN) genes. Clinically asymptomatic subjects from families with C9orf72 mutation (15 mutation carriers, C9orf72+; and 23 non-carriers, C9orf72−) and GRN mutations (9 mutation carriers, GRN+; and 15 non-carriers, GRN−) underwent structural neuroimaging (MRI). Cortical thickness and subcortical gray matter volumes were calculated using FreeSurfer. Group differences were evaluated, correcting for age, sex and years to mean age of disease onset within the subject's family. Mean age of C9orf72+ and C9orf72− were 42.6 ± 11.3 and 49.7 ± 15.5 years, respectively; while GRN+ and GRN− groups were 50.1 ± 8.7 and 53.2 ± 11.2 years respectively. The C9orf72+ group exhibited cortical thinning in the temporal, parietal and frontal regions, as well as reduced volumes of bilateral thalamus and left caudate compared to the entire group of mutation non-carriers (NC: C9orf72− and GRN− combined). In contrast, the GRN+ group did not show any significant differences compared to NC. C9orf72 mutation carriers demonstrate a pattern of reduced gray matter on MRI prior to symptom onset compared to GRN mutation carriers. These findings suggest that the preclinical course of FTD differs depending on the genetic basis and that the choice of neuroimaging biomarkers for FTD may need to take into account the specific genes involved in causing the disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)591-598
Number of pages8
JournalNeuroImage: Clinical
StatePublished - 2018


  • C9orf72 mutation
  • Cortical thickness
  • Frontotemporal dementia
  • Granulin mutation
  • Magnetic resonance imaging
  • Subcortical volumes

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Radiology Nuclear Medicine and imaging
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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