Accumulation of multiple neurodegenerative disease-related proteins in familial frontotemporal lobar degeneration associated with granulin mutation

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In 2006, mutations in the granulin gene were identified in patients with familial Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration. Granulin transcript haploinsufficiency has been proposed as a disease mechanism that leads to the loss of functional progranulin protein. Granulin mutations were initially found in tau-negative patients, though recent findings indicate that these mutations are associated with other neurodegenerative disorders with tau pathology, including Alzheimer's disease and corticobasal degeneration. Moreover, a reduction in progranulin in tau transgenic mice is associated with increasing tau accumulation. To investigate the influence of a decline in progranulin protein on other forms of neurodegenerative-related protein accumulation, human granulin mutation cases were investigated by histochemical and biochemical analyses. Results showed a neuronal and glial tau accumulation in granulin mutation cases. Tau staining revealed neuronal pretangle forms and glial tau in both astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. Furthermore, phosphorylated α-synuclein-positive structures were also found in oligodendrocytes and the neuropil. Immunoblot analysis of fresh frozen brain tissues revealed that tau was present in the sarkosyl-insoluble fraction, and composed of three- and four-repeat tau isoforms, resembling Alzheimer's disease. Our data suggest that progranulin reduction might be the cause of multiple proteinopathies due to the accelerating accumulation of abnormal proteins including TDP-43 proteinopathy, tauopathy and α-synucleinopathy.


  • Scientific reports

    Scientific reports (7), 1513, 2017-05

    Nature publishing group



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