A GGGGCC hexanucleotide repeat expansion in the C9ORF72 gene was recently identified as an important cause of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and frontotemporal dementia in Caucasian populations. The role of the C9ORF72 repeat expansion in ALS in Chinese populations has received little attention. We therefore performed mutation analyses in a Taiwanese cohort of 22 unrelated familial ALS (FALS) patients and 102 sporadic ALS patients of Han Chinese descent. The C9ORF72 mutation was found in 4 FALS (18.2%; 4/22) and 2 sporadic ALS patients (2.0%; 2/102). The C9ORF72 repeat numbers in the 300 healthy controls and the 118 ALS patients without the C9ORF72 mutation ranged from 3 to 15. Needle biopsy in the left frontal cortex of 1 patient with FALS-frontotemporal dementia revealed numerous cytoplasmic TAR DNA-binding protein 43 (TDP-43) inclusions and minimal neuritis, consistent with type B frontotemporal lobar degeneration with TDP-43 (FTLD-TDP) pathology. This study clearly demonstrates the existence and importance of the C9ORF72 hexanucleotide repeat expansion in a Taiwanese ALS cohort of Chinese origin, and supports the global presence of the C9ORF72 repeat expansion in ALS.
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