Frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) is a group of heterogeneous neurodegenerative disorders affecting the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. Nuclear loss and cytoplasmic aggregation of the RNA-binding protein TDP-43 represents the major FTLD pathology, known as FTLD-TDP. To date, there is no effective treatment for FTLD-TDP due to an incomplete understanding of the molecular mechanisms underlying disease development. Here we compared postmortem tissue RNA-seq transcriptomes from the frontal cortex, temporal cortex, and cerebellum between 28 controls and 30 FTLD-TDP patients to profile changes in cell-type composition, gene expression and transcript usage. We observed downregulation of neuronal markers in all three regions of the brain, accompanied by upregulation of microglia, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes, as well as endothelial cells and pericytes, suggesting shifts in both immune activation and within the vasculature. We validate our estimates of neuronal loss using neuropathological atrophy scores and show that neuronal loss in the cortex can be mainly attributed to excitatory neurons, and that increases in microglial and endothelial cell expression are highly correlated with neuronal loss. All our analyses identified a strong involvement of the cerebellum in the neurodegenerative process of FTLD-TDP. Altogether, our data provides a detailed landscape of gene expression alterations to help unravel relevant disease mechanisms in FTLD.
- Gene expression