Neurodegenerative Brain Diseases Group

Antwerpen, Belgium

Neurodegenerative Brain Diseases Group

Antwerpen, Belgium
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Brouns R.,University of Antwerp | Brouns R.,Vrije Universiteit Brussel | Thijs V.,University Hospitals Leuven and Vesalius Research Center | Eyskens F.,University of Antwerp | And 11 more authors.
Stroke | Year: 2010

BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE-: Data on the prevalence of Fabry disease in patients with central nervous system pathology are limited and controversial. In this study, we assessed the prevalence of Fabry disease in young patients presenting with cerebrovascular disease in Belgium. METHODS-: In this national, prospective, multicenter study, we screened for Fabry disease in 1000 patients presenting with ischemic stroke, transient ischemic attack, or intracranial hemorrhage; unexplained white matter lesions; or vertebrobasilar dolichoectasia. In male patients, we measured α-galactosidase A (α-GAL A) activity in dried blood spots. Female patients were screened for mutations by exonic DNA sequencing of the α-GAL A gene. RESULTS-: α-GAL A activity was deficient in 19 men (3.5%), although all had normal α-GAL A gene sequences. Enzymatic deficiency was confirmed on repeat assessment in 2 male patients (0.4%). We identified missense mutations in 8 unrelated female patients (1.8%): Asp313Tyr (n=5), Ala143Thr (n=2), and Ser126Gly (n=1). The pathogenicity of the 2 former missense mutations is controversial. Ser126Gly is a novel mutation that can be linked to late-onset Fabry disease. CONCLUSION-: α-GAL A deficiency may play a role in up to 1% of young patients presenting with cerebrovascular disease. These findings suggest that atypical variants of Fabry disease with late-onset cerebrovascular disease exist, although the clinical relevance is unclear in all cases. © 2010 American Heart Association, Inc.

Adamczuk K.,Catholic University of Leuven | De Weer A.-S.,Catholic University of Leuven | Nelissen N.,Catholic University of Leuven | Nelissen N.,University of Oxford | And 11 more authors.
Cerebral Cortex | Year: 2016

Word finding symptoms are frequent early in the course of Alzheimer's disease and relate principally to functional changes in left posterior temporal cortex. In cognitively intact older adults, we examined whether amyloid load affects the network for language and associative-semantic processing. Fifty-six community-recruited subjects (52-74 years), stratified for apolipoprotein E and brain-derived neurotrophic factor genotype, received a neurolinguistic assessment, 18F-flutemetamol positron emission tomography, and a functional MRI of the associative-semantic system. The primary measure of amyloid load was the cerebral-to-cerebellar gray matter standardized uptake value ratio in a composite cortical volume of interest (SUVRcomp). The primary outcome analysis consisted of a whole-brain voxelwise linear regression between SUVRcomp and fMRI response during associative-semantic versus visuoperceptual processing. Higher activity in one region, the posterior left middle temporal gyrus, correlated positively with increased amyloid load. The correlation remained significant when only the word conditions were contrasted but not for pictures. According to a stepwise linear regression analysis, offline naming reaction times correlated positively with SUVRcomp. A binary classification into amyloid-positive and amyloid-negative cases confirmed our findings. The left posterior temporal activity increase may reflect higher demands for semantic control in the presence of a higher amyloid burden. © The Author 2014. Published by Oxford University Press. All rights reserved.

Vanden Broeck L.,Catholic University of Leuven | Vanden Broeck L.,Center for the Biology of Disease | Vanden Broeck L.,University of Lille Nord de France | Naval-Sanchez M.,Catholic University of Leuven | And 19 more authors.
Cell Reports | Year: 2013

TDP-43 proteinopathy is strongly implicated in the pathogenesis of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and related neurodegenerative disorders. Whether TDP-43 neurotoxicity is caused by a novel toxic gain-of-function mechanism of the aggregates or by a loss of its normal function is unknown. We increased and decreased expression of . TDP-43 (dTDP-43) in Drosophila. Although upregulation of dTDP-43 induced neuronal ubiquitin and dTDP-43-positive inclusions, both up- and downregulated dTDP-43 resulted in selective apoptosis of bursicon neurons and highly similar transcriptome alterations at the pupal-adult transition. Gene network analysis and genetic validation showed that both up- and downregulated dTDP-43 directly and dramatically increased the expression of the neuronal microtubule-associated protein Map205, resulting in cytoplasmic accumulations of the ecdysteroid receptor (EcR) and a failure to switch EcR-dependent gene programs from a pupal to adult pattern. We propose that dTDP-43 neurotoxicity is caused by a loss of its normal function. © 2013 The Authors.

Noskova L.,Charles University | Stranecky V.,Charles University | Hartmannova H.,Charles University | Pristoupilova A.,Charles University | And 15 more authors.
American Journal of Human Genetics | Year: 2011

Autosomal-dominant adult-onset neuronal ceroid lipofuscinosis (ANCL) is characterized by accumulation of autofluorescent storage material in neural tissues and neurodegeneration and has an age of onset in the third decade of life or later. The genetic and molecular basis of the disease has remained unknown for many years. We carried out linkage mapping, gene-expression analysis, exome sequencing, and candidate-gene sequencing in affected individuals from 20 families and/or individuals with simplex cases; we identified in five individuals one of two disease-causing mutations, c.346-348delCTC and c.344T>G, in DNAJC5 encoding cysteine-string protein alpha (CSPα). These mutations - causing a deletion, p.Leu116del, and an amino acid exchange, p.Leu115Arg, respectively - are located within the cysteine-string domain of the protein and affect both palmitoylation-dependent sorting and the amount of CSPα in neuronal cells. The resulting depletion of functional CSPα might cause in parallel the presynaptic dysfunction and the progressive neurodegeneration observed in affected individuals and lysosomal accumulation of misfolded and proteolysis-resistant proteins in the form of characteristic ceroid deposits in neurons. Our work represents an important step in the genetic dissection of a genetically heterogeneous group of ANCLs. It also confirms a neuroprotective role for CSPα in humans and demonstrates the need for detailed investigation of CSPα in the neuronal ceroid lipofuscinoses and other neurodegenerative diseases presenting with neuronal protein aggregation. © 2011 The American Society of Human Genetics.

Bettens K.,Neurodegenerative Brain Diseases Group | Bettens K.,University of Antwerp | Sleegers K.,Neurodegenerative Brain Diseases Group | Sleegers K.,University of Antwerp | And 2 more authors.
Human Molecular Genetics | Year: 2010

Linkage studies, candidate gene and whole-genome association studies have resulted in a tremendous amount of putative risk genes for Alzheimer's disease (AD). Yet, besides the three causal genes-amyloid precursor protein and presenilin 1 and 2 genes-and one risk gene apolipoprotein E (APOE), no single functional risk variant was identified. Discussing the possible involvement of rare alleles and other types of genetic variants, this review summarizes the current knowledge on the genetic spectrum of AD and integrates different approaches and recent discoveries by genome-wide association studies. © The Author 2010. Published by Oxford University Press.

We have followed-up on the recent genome-wide association (GWA) of the clusterin gene (CLU) with increased risk for Alzheimer disease (AD), by performing an unbiased resequencing of all CLU coding exons and regulatory regions in an extended Flanders-Belgian cohort of Caucasian AD patients and control individuals (n = 1930). Moreover, we have replicated genetic findings by targeted resequencing in independent Caucasian cohorts of French (n = 2182) and Canadian (n = 573) origin and by performing meta-analysis combining our data with previous genetic CLU screenings. In the Flanders-Belgian cohort, we identified significant clustering in exons 5-8 of rare genetic variations leading to non-synonymous substitutions and a 9-bp insertion/deletion affecting the CLU β-chain (p = 0.02). Replicating this observation by targeted resequencing of CLU exons 5-8 in 2 independent Caucasian cohorts of French and Canadian origin identified identical as well as novel non-synonymous substitutions and small insertion/deletions. A meta-analysis, combining the datasets of the 3 cohorts with published CLU sequencing data, confirmed that rare coding variations in the CLU β-chain were significantly enriched in AD patients (OR(MH) = 1.96 [95% CI = 1.18-3.25]; p = 0.009). Single nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) association analysis indicated the common AD risk association (GWA SNP rs11136000, p = 0.013) in the 3 combined datasets could not be explained by the presence of the rare coding variations we identified. Further, high-density SNP mapping in the CLU locus mapped the common association signal to a more 5' CLU region. We identified a new genetic risk association of AD with rare coding CLU variations that is independent of the 5' common association signal identified in the GWA studies. At this stage the role of these coding variations and their likely effect on the β-chain domain and CLU protein functioning remains unclear and requires further studies.

Verstraeten A.,Neurodegenerative Brain Diseases Group | Verstraeten A.,University of Antwerp | Theuns J.,Neurodegenerative Brain Diseases Group | Theuns J.,University of Antwerp | And 2 more authors.
Trends in Genetics | Year: 2015

Parkinson disease (PD) and Parkinson-plus syndromes are genetically heterogeneous neurological diseases. Initial studies into the genetic causes of PD relied on classical molecular genetic approaches in well-documented case families. More recently, these approaches have been combined with exome sequencing and together have identified 15 causal genes. Additionally, genome-wide association studies (GWASs) have discovered over 25 genetic risk factors. Elucidation of the genetic architecture of sporadic and familial parkinsonism, however, has lagged behind that of simple Mendelian conditions, suggesting the existence of features confounding genetic data interpretation. Here we discuss the successes and potential pitfalls of gene discovery in PD and related disorders in the post-genomic era. With an estimated 30% of trait variance currently unexplained, tackling current limitations will further expedite gene discovery and lead to increased application of these genetic insights in molecular diagnostics using gene panel and exome sequencing strategies. © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.

Janssens J.,Neurodegenerative Brain Diseases Group | Janssens J.,University of Antwerp | Van Broeckhoven C.,Neurodegenerative Brain Diseases Group | Van Broeckhoven C.,University of Antwerp
Human Molecular Genetics | Year: 2013

Aggregation of misfoldedTARDNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) is a striking hallmark of neurodegenerative processes that are observed in several neurological disorders, and in particular in most patients diagnosed with frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) or amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). A direct causal link with TDP-43 brain proteinopathy was provided by the identification of pathogenic mutations in TARDBP, the gene encoding TDP-43, in ALS families. However, TDP-43 proteinopathy has also been observed in carriers of mutations in several other genes associated with both ALS and FTLD demonstrating a key role for TDP-43 in neurodegeneration. To date, and despite substantial research into the biology of TDP-43, its functioning in normal brain and in neurodegeneration processes remains largely elusive. Nonetheless, breakthroughs using cellular and animal models have provided valuable insights into ALS and FTLD pathogenesis. Accumulating evidence has redirected the research focus towards amajor role for impaired RNA metabolism and protein homeostasis. At the same time, the concept that toxic TDP-43 protein aggregates promote neurodegeneration is losing its credibility. This review aims at highlighting and discussing the current knowledge on TDP-43 driven pathomechanisms leading to neurodegeneration as observed in TDP-43 proteinopathies. Based on the complexity of the associated neurological diseases, a clear understanding of the essential pathological modifications will be crucial for further therapeutic interventions. © The Author 2013. Published by Oxford University Press.

Verstraeten A.,Neurodegenerative Brain Diseases Group
Neurobiology of aging | Year: 2012

VPS35 was recently identified as a novel autosomal dominant gene for Parkinson disease. In this study, we aimed to determine the contribution of simple and complex VPS35 variations to the genetic etiology of the spectrum of Lewy body disorders (LBD) in a Flanders-Belgian patient cohort (n = 677). We identified 3 novel missense variations in addition to 1 silent and 1 intronic variation predicted to activate a cryptic splice site, but no copy number variations. Despite the absence of these rare variations in the control group (n = 800), we could not attain convincing evidence for pathogenicity by segregation analysis or in silico predictions. Hence, our data do not support a major role for VPS35 variations in the genetic etiology of Lewy body disorders in the Flanders-Belgian population. Copyright © 2012 Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

Cuyvers E.,Neurodegenerative Brain Diseases Group | Cuyvers E.,University of Antwerp | De Roeck A.,Neurodegenerative Brain Diseases Group | De Roeck A.,University of Antwerp | And 20 more authors.
The Lancet Neurology | Year: 2015

Background: ABCA7 was identified as a risk gene for Alzheimer's disease in genome-wide association studies (GWAS). It was one of the genes most strongly associated with risk of Alzheimer's disease in a Belgian cohort. Using targeted resequencing, we investigated ABCA7 in this cohort with the aim to directly detect rare and common variations in this gene associated with Alzheimer's disease pathogenesis. Methods: We did massive parallel resequencing of ABCA7 after HaloPlex target enrichment of the exons, introns, and regulatory regions in 772 unrelated patients with Alzheimer's disease (mean age at onset 74·6 years [SD 8·9]) recruited at two memory clinics in Flanders, Belgium, and 757 geographically matched community-dwelling controls (mean age at inclusion 73·9 years [8·0]). After bioinformatic processing, common variants were analysed with conditional logistic regression and rare variant association analysis was done in Variant Association Tools. To explore an observed founder effect, additional unrelated patients with Alzheimer's disease (n=183, mean age at onset 78·8 years [SD 6·0]) and control individuals (n=265, mean age at inclusion 56·9 years [10·8]) from the same cohort who had not been included in massive parallel resequencing because of insufficient biosamples were screened for the ABCA7 frameshift mutation Glu709fs with Sanger sequencing. The effect of loss-of-function mutations on ABCA7 expression was investigated with quantitative real-time PCR in post-mortem brains of patients (n=3) and control individuals (n=4); nonsense mediated mRNA decay was investigated in lymphoblast cell lines from three predicted loss-of-function mutation carriers from the cohort of 772 patients with Alzheimer's disease. Findings: An intronic low-frequency variant rs78117248 (minor allele frequency 3·8% in 58 patients with Alzheimer's disease and in controls 1·8% in 28 controls) showed strongest association with Alzheimer's disease (odds ratio 2·07, 95% CI 1·31-3·27; p=0·0016), and remained significant after conditioning for the GWAS top single nucleotide polymorphisms rs3764650, rs4147929, and rs3752246 (2·00, 1·22-3·26; p=0·006). We identified an increased frequency of predicted loss-of-function mutations in the patients compared with the controls (relative risk 4·03, 95% CI 1·75-9·29; p=0·0002). One frameshift mutation (Glu709fs) showed a founder effect in the study population, and was found to segregate with disease in a family with autosomal dominant inheritance of Alzheimer's disease. Expression of ABCA7 was reduced in the two carriers of loss-of-function mutations found only in patients with Alzheimer's disease (Glu709fs and Trp1214*) compared with four non-carrier controls (relative expression 0·45, 95% CI 0·25-0·84; p=0·002) and in lymphoblast cell lines from three carriers of Glu709fs compared with those from two non-carrier controls. Interpretation: We propose that a low-frequency variant can explain the association between ABCA7 and Alzheimer's disease, and the evidence of loss-of-function mutations in this risk gene suggests that partial loss-of-function of ABCA7 could be a potential pathogenetic mechanism of Alzheimer's disease. Funding: Belgian Science Policy Office Interuniversity Attraction Poles program P7/16, Alzheimer Research Foundation, King Baudouin Foundation AB Fund, Methusalem Excellence Program initiative of the Flemish Government, Flanders Impulse Program on Networks for Dementia Research, Research Foundation Flanders, Agency for Innovation by Science and Technology Flanders, University of Antwerp Research Fund, and European Union's Seventh Framework Programme for Research, Technological development and Demonstration (AgedBrainSYSBIO). © 2015 Elsevier Ltd.

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