Abnormal TDP-43 expression is identified in the neocortex in cases of dementia pugilistica, but is mainly confined to the limbic system when identified in high and moderate stages of Alzheimer's disease


Andrew King, FRCPath, Department of Clinical Neuropathology, Academic Neuroscience Building, King's College Hospital, Denmark Hill, London SE5 9RS, UK. Email: andrew.king@kch.nhs.uk


The transactive response (TAR) DNA binding protein TDP-43 has been discovered to be a major ubiquitinated protein in frontotemporal lobar degeneration with ubiquitinated tau-negative inclusions (FTLD-U), which consequently has been renamed FTLD-TDP. However, TDP-43 has since been detected in conditions such as Alzheimer's disease (AD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) but is often confined to the limbic region rather than the more widespread pattern seen in FTLD-TDP. Previous work has suggested some relationship between hippocampal sclerosis and TDP-43 expression. A number of AD cases of both moderate and high stage were examined to determine whether the pattern of TDP-43 immunohistochemical expression differed and whether any relationship to hippocampal sclerosis could be detected. Cases of hippocampal sclerosis from surgical epilepsy specimens were examined to determine whether hippocampal sclerosis alone could cause abnormal TDP-43 expression. To establish whether abnormal TDP-43 expression in other neurodegenerative diseases resembled the pattern and distribution in FTLD-TDP we examined multiple blocks from a variety of neurodegenerative conditions. In 75% of cases of high-stage AD there was abnormal TDP-43 positivity compared to 57% of moderate-stage AD. While the abnormal TDP-43 positivity was confined to the limbic regions in the moderate stages, occasional cases in the high stages showed neocortical positivity. Also amygdala and/or entorhinal positivity appeared to precede positivity in the dentate gyrus. No relationship could be established between abnormal TDP-43 expression and degree of hippocampal sclerosis either in the surgical or autopsy cases. The pattern of distribution of TDP-43 inclusions from cases of dementia pugilistica most closely resembled that in FTLD-TDP. This raises the question as to whether there may be some shared pathogenic mechanisms between the two conditions.