pTDP-43 aggregates accumulate in the gut and other non-central nervous system tissues prior to symptom onset in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Samuel B. Pattle, Judi O’Shaughnessy, Olivia M. Rifai, Judith Pate, Mark J. Arends, Fergal M. Waldron, Jenna M. Gregory

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Abstract

Abstract
Objective
Neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease (PD), Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are traditionally considered strictly neurological disorders. However, clinical presentation is not restricted to neurological systems, and non-central nervous system (CNS) manifestations, particularly gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, are common. Our objective was to understand the systemic distribution of pathology in archived non-CNS tissues, taken as part of routine clinical practice during life from people with ALS.

Design
We requested all surgical specimens of non-CNS tissue taken during life from 48 people with ALS, for whom evidence of the characteristic proteinopathy associated with ALS had been identified in the CNS after death (i.e., the pathological cytoplasmic accumulation of phosphorylated TDP-43 (pTDP-43) aggregates). Of the 48 patients, 13 had sufficient tissue for evaluation: 12 patients with sporadic ALS and 1 patient with a C9orf72 hexanucleotide repeat expansion. The final cohort consisted of 68 formalin-fixed paraffin embedded tissue samples from 22 surgical cases (some patients having more than one case over their lifetimes), representing 8 organ systems, which we examined for evidence of pTDP-43 pathology. The median age of tissue removal was 62.4 years old and median tissue removal to death was 6.3 years.

Results
We identified pTDP-43 aggregates in multiple cell types of the GI tract (i.e., colon and gallbladder), including macrophages and dendritic cells within the lamina propria, as well as neuronal and glial cells of the myenteric plexus. Aggregates were also noted within lymph node parenchyma, blood vessel endothelial cells, and chondrocytes. We note that in all cases with non-CNS pTDP-43 pathology, aggregates were present prior to ALS diagnosis (median=3years) and, in some instances, preceded neurological symptom onset by more than 10 years.

Conclusion
These data imply that patients with non-CNS symptoms may have occult protein aggregation that could be detected many years prior to neurological involvement.

Summary
Neurodegenerative diseases such as Parkinson’s disease (PD), Alzheimer’s disease (AD) and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are traditionally considered strictly neurological disorders. However, clinical presentation is not restricted to neurological systems, and non-central nervous system (CNS) manifestations, particularly gastrointestinal (GI) symptoms, are common. Our objective was to understand the systemic distribution of TDP-43 pathology in archived non-CNS tissues, taken as part of routine clinical practice during life from people with ALS. We identified pTDP-43 aggregates in multiple cell types of the GI tract (i.e., colon and gallbladder), and within lymph node parenchyma, blood vessel endothelial cells, and chondrocytes. We note that in all cases with non-CNS pTDP-43 pathology, aggregates were present prior to ALS diagnosis (median=24months) and, in some instances, preceded neurological symptom onset by more than 10years. These data imply that patients with non-CNS symptoms may have occult protein aggregation that could be detected many years prior to neurological involvement.
Original languageEnglish
JournalbioRxiv
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 19 Mar 2022

Keywords

  • ALS
  • TDP-43
  • Gastrointestinal tract
  • ; Non-CNS tissue
  • Human Tissue
  • Pathology

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