Stratifying the Presymptomatic Phase of Genetic Frontotemporal Dementia by Serum NfL and pNfH: A Longitudinal Multicentre Study

Carlo Wilke, Selina Reich, John C. van Swieten, Genetic Frontotemporal dementia Initiative (GENFI), Barbara Borroni, Raquel Sanchez-Valle, Fermin Moreno, Robert Laforce, Caroline Graff, Daniela Galimberti, James B. Rowe, Mario Masellis, Maria C. Tartaglia, Elizabeth Finger, Rik Vandenberghe, Alexandre de Mendonça, Fabrizio Tagliavini, Isabel Santana, Simon Ducharme, Chris R. ButlerAlexander Gerhard, Johannes Levin, Adrian Danek, Markus Otto, Giovanni Frisoni, Roberta Ghidoni, Sandro Sorbi, Martina Bocchetta, Emily Todd, Jens Kuhle, Christian Barro, Sónia Afonso, Maria Rosario Almeida, Sarah Anderl-Straub, Christin Andersson, Anna Antonell, Silvana Archetti, Andrea Arighi, Mircea Balasa, Myriam Barandiaran, Nuria Bargalló, Robart Bartha, Benjamin Bender, Alberto Benussi, Luisa Benussi, Jonathan D. Rohrer, Matthis Synofzik

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Abstract

Objective: Although the presymptomatic stages of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) provide a unique chance to delay or even prevent neurodegeneration by early intervention, they remain poorly defined. Leveraging a large multicenter cohort of genetic FTD mutation carriers, we provide a biomarker-based stratification and biomarker cascade of the likely most treatment-relevant stage within the presymptomatic phase: the conversion stage. Methods: We longitudinally assessed serum levels of neurofilament light (NfL) and phosphorylated neurofilament heavy (pNfH) in the Genetic FTD Initiative (GENFI) cohort (n = 444), using single-molecule array technique. Subjects comprised 91 symptomatic and 179 presymptomatic subjects with mutations in the FTD genes C9orf72, GRN, or MAPT, and 174 mutation-negative within-family controls. Results: In a biomarker cascade, NfL increase preceded the hypothetical clinical onset by 15 years and concurred with brain atrophy onset, whereas pNfH increase started close to clinical onset. The conversion stage was marked by increased NfL, but still normal pNfH levels, while both were increased at the symptomatic stage. Intra-individual change rates were increased for NfL at the conversion stage and for pNfH at the symptomatic stage, highlighting their respective potential as stage-dependent dynamic biomarkers within the biomarker cascade. Increased NfL levels and NfL change rates allowed identification of presymptomatic subjects converting to symptomatic disease and capture of proximity-to-onset. We estimate stage-dependent sample sizes for trials aiming to decrease neurofilament levels or change rates. Interpretation: Blood NfL and pNfH provide dynamic stage-dependent stratification and, potentially, treatment response biomarkers in presymptomatic FTD, allowing demarcation of the conversion stage. The proposed biomarker cascade might pave the way towards a biomarker-based precision medicine approach to genetic FTD. ANN NEUROL 2022;91:33–47.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)33-47
Number of pages15
JournalAnnals of Neurology
Volume91
Issue number1
Early online date7 Nov 2021
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2022

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
The authors thank all participants and their families for their contribution to the GENFI study. C.W. and M.S. are members of the European Reference Network for Rare Neurological Diseases Project ID No. 739510. This work was supported by the Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (grant 779257 Solve‐RD to M.S.), the National Ataxia Foundation (grant to C.W. and M.S.), the Wilhelm Vaillant Stiftung (grant to C.W.), the EU Joint Programme – Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND) “GENFI‐prox” through participating national funding agencies (by DLR/BMBF to M.S., J.D.R., B.B., C.G., and M.O.), and the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 643417. J.C.S. and H.S. received funding by two Memorabel grants from Deltaplan Dementie (The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development and Alzheimer Nederland; grant numbers 733050813 and 733050103) in the Netherlands and the Bluefield Project to Cure Frontotemporal Dementia. J.B.R. was supported by the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre (BRC‐1215‐20014) and the Medical Research Council (SUAG/051 G101400). C.B. is supported by a postdoctoral fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation (P400PM_191077). J.D.R. is supported by the Miriam Marks Brain Research UK Senior Fellowship and has received funding from an MRC Clinician Scientist Fellowship (MR/M008525/1) and the NIHR Rare Disease Translational Research Collaboration (BRC149/NS/MH). This work was also supported by the MRC UK GENFI grant (MR/M023664/1), the Bluefield Project and the JPND GENFI‐PROX grant (2019‐02248). The funding sources had no role in the study design, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation, or writing of the manuscript.

Funding Information:
The authors thank all participants and their families for their contribution to the GENFI study. C.W. and M.S. are members of the European Reference Network for Rare Neurological Diseases Project ID No. 739510. This work was supported by the Horizon 2020 research and innovation program (grant 779257 Solve-RD to M.S.), the National Ataxia Foundation (grant to C.W. and M.S.), the Wilhelm Vaillant Stiftung (grant to C.W.), the EU Joint Programme ? Neurodegenerative Disease Research (JPND) ?GENFI-prox? through participating national funding agencies (by DLR/BMBF to M.S., J.D.R., B.B., C.G., and M.O.), and the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under grant agreement No. 643417. J.C.S. and H.S. received funding by two Memorabel grants from Deltaplan Dementie (The Netherlands Organisation for Health Research and Development and Alzheimer Nederland; grant numbers 733050813 and 733050103) in the Netherlands and the Bluefield Project to Cure Frontotemporal Dementia. J.B.R. was supported by the NIHR Cambridge Biomedical Research Centre (BRC-1215-20014) and the Medical Research Council (SUAG/051 G101400). C.B. is supported by a postdoctoral fellowship from the Swiss National Science Foundation (P400PM_191077). J.D.R. is supported by the Miriam Marks Brain Research UK Senior Fellowship and has received funding from an MRC Clinician Scientist Fellowship (MR/M008525/1) and the NIHR Rare Disease Translational Research Collaboration (BRC149/NS/MH). This work was also supported by the MRC UK GENFI grant (MR/M023664/1), the Bluefield Project and the JPND GENFI-PROX grant (2019-02248). The funding sources had no role in the study design, data collection, data analysis, data interpretation, or writing of the manuscript.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2021 The Authors. Annals of Neurology published by Wiley Periodicals LLC on behalf of American Neurological Association.

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