Cortical and subcortical pathological burden and neuronal loss in an autopsy series of FTLD-TDP-Type C

Allegra Kawles, Yasushi Nishihira, Alex Feldman, Nathan Gill, Grace Minogue, Rachel Keszycki, Christina Coventry, Callen Spencer, Jaclyn Lilek, Kaouther Ajroud, Giovanni Coppola, Rosa Rademakers, Emily Rogalski, Sandra Weintraub, Hui Zhang, Margaret E. Flanagan, Eileen H. Bigio, M. Marsel Mesulam, Changiz Geula, Qinwen MaoTamar Gefen*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Scopus citations


The TDP-43 type C pathological form of frontotemporal lobar degeneration is characterized by the presence of immunoreactive TDP-43 short and long dystrophic neurites, neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions, neuronal loss and gliosis and the absence of neuronal intranuclear inclusions. Frontotemporal lobar degeneration-TDP-Type C cases are commonly associated with the semantic variant of primary progressive aphasia or behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia. Here, we provide detailed characterization of regional distributions of pathological TDP-43 and neuronal loss and gliosis in cortical and subcortical regions in 10 TDP-Type C cases and investigate the relationship between inclusions and neuronal loss and gliosis. Specimens were obtained from the first 10 TDP-Type C cases accessioned from the Northwestern Alzheimer's Disease Research Center (semantic variant of primary progressive aphasia, n = 7; behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia, n = 3). A total of 42 cortical (majority bilateral) and subcortical regions were immunostained with a phosphorylated TDP-43 antibody and/or stained with haematoxylin-eosin. Regions were evaluated for atrophy, and for long dystrophic neurites, short dystrophic neurites, neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions, and neuronal loss and gliosis using a semiquantitative 5-point scale. We calculated a 'neuron-To-inclusion' score (TDP-Type C mean score-neuronal loss and gliosis mean score) for each region per case to assess the relationship between TDP-Type C inclusions and neuronal loss and gliosis. Primary progressive aphasia cases demonstrated leftward asymmetry of cortical atrophy consistent with the aphasic phenotype. We also observed abundant inclusions and neurodegeneration in both cortical and subcortical regions, with certain subcortical regions emerging as particularly vulnerable to dystrophic neurites (e.g. amygdala, caudate and putamen). Interestingly, linear mixed models showed that regions with lowest TDP-Type C pathology had high neuronal dropout, and conversely, regions with abundant pathology displayed relatively preserved neuronal densities (P < 0.05). This inverse relationship between the extent of TDP-positive inclusions and neuronal loss may reflect a process whereby inclusions disappear as their associated neurons are lost. Together, these findings offer insight into the putative substrates of neurodegeneration in unique dementia syndromes.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)1069-1078
Number of pages10
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 1 2022


  • TDP-43
  • behavioural variant frontotemporal dementia
  • frontotemporal lobar degeneration
  • primary progressive aphasia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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