TDP-43 pathology in the basal forebrain and hypothalamus of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Matthew D Cykowski, Hidehiro Takei, Paul E Schulz, Stanley H Appel, Suzanne Z Powell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

60 Scopus citations


INTRODUCTION: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a neurodegenerative disease characterized clinically by motor symptoms including limb weakness, dysarthria, dysphagia, and respiratory compromise, and pathologically by inclusions of transactive response DNA-binding protein 43 kDa (TDP-43). Patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis also may demonstrate non-motor symptoms and signs of autonomic and energy dysfunction as hypermetabolism and weight loss that suggest the possibility of pathology in the forebrain, including hypothalamus. However, this region has received little investigation in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. In this study, the frequency, topography, and clinical associations of TDP-43 inclusion pathology in the basal forebrain and hypothalamus were examined in 33 patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: 25 men and 8 women; mean age at death of 62.7 years, median disease duration of 3.1 years (range of 1.3 to 9.8 years).

RESULTS: TDP-43 pathology was present in 11 patients (33.3%), including components in both basal forebrain (n=10) and hypothalamus (n=7). This pathology was associated with non-motor system TDP-43 pathology (Χ2=17.5, p=0.00003) and bulbar symptoms at onset (Χ2=4.04, p=0.044), but not age or disease duration. Furthermore, TDP-43 pathology in the lateral hypothalamic area was associated with reduced body mass index (W=11, p=0.023).

CONCLUSIONS: This is the first systematic demonstration of pathologic involvement of the basal forebrain and hypothalamus in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Furthermore, the findings suggest that involvement of the basal forebrain and hypothalamus has significant phenotypic associations in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, including site of symptom onset, as well as deficits in energy metabolism with loss of body mass index.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)171
JournalActa Neuropathologica Communications
StatePublished - 2014


  • Aged
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
  • Autopsy
  • Basal Forebrain
  • Body Mass Index
  • Chi-Square Distribution
  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Hypothalamus
  • Inclusion Bodies
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • alpha-Synuclein


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