The Heritability of Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration: Validation of Pedigree Classification Criteria in a Northern Italy Cohort

J Alzheimers Dis. 2018;61(2):753-760. doi: 10.3233/JAD-170661.


A large portion of frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) patients has a family history of disease and the presence of a pathogenic mutation confirms the clinical diagnosis. Recently, standardized criteria to evaluate FTLD pedigree, based on first- and second-degree affected relatives, their age at onset, and clinical phenotype, were proposed and validated in an American cohort. Herein we applied these criteria to 402 Italian FTLD pedigrees and assessed mutation frequencies in GRN, C9orf72, and MAPT genes with the aim of validating these criteria. Moreover, we evaluated whether genetic counseling requests reflect the estimated family risk. 12.4% of pedigrees had high family history, 6.5% medium, 15.4% low; 39% were apparent sporadic cases and 26.6% had family history of unknown significance. Mutations frequencies were in line with the categorization proposed: the highest rate was found in the most at-risk families (74%) and decreased in other categories (medium: 15.4%; low: 9.7%; sporadic: 1.3%). Mutation carriers with unknown family history (5.6%) were mostly early-onset patients. Detected mutation frequency was comparable with the US-cohort (13.7%), but mutations distribution among genes was different, with higher frequency of GRN mutations (9.4%) in our cohort. An elevated proportion of FTLD patients belonging to "high risk" pedigrees asked for genetic counseling (42%); requests decreased according to the estimated family risk (medium: 26.9%; low: 17.7%; sporadic: 5.1%). In conclusion, the proposed pedigree classification criteria, herein further validated, should be incorporated in the FTLD diagnostic work-up. Moreover, our data suggest to extend genetic screening to early-onset patients with unknown family history.

Keywords: C9orf72; GRN; MAPT; frontotemporal lobar degeneration; genetic counseling; mutation; pedigree.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Validation Study

MeSH terms

  • Age of Onset
  • Aged
  • C9orf72 Protein / genetics
  • Cohort Studies
  • Female
  • Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration / classification*
  • Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration / diagnosis
  • Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration / genetics*
  • Genetic Counseling
  • Genetic Testing / standards*
  • Humans
  • Italy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • Pedigree*
  • Progranulins / genetics
  • tau Proteins / genetics


  • C9orf72 Protein
  • C9orf72 protein, human
  • GRN protein, human
  • MAPT protein, human
  • Progranulins
  • tau Proteins