The amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-parkinsonism dementia complex (ALS-PDC) of Guam is an endemic neurodegenerative disease that features widespread tau tangles, occasional α-synuclein Lewy bodies, and sparse β-amyloid (Aβ) plaques distributed in the central nervous system. Extensive studies of genetic or environmental factors have failed to identify a cause of ALS-PDC. Building on prior work describing the detection of tau and Aβ prions in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Down syndrome brains, we investigated ALS-PDC brain samples for the presence of prions. We obtained postmortem frozen brain tissue from 26 donors from Guam with ALS-PDC or no neurological impairment and 71 non-Guamanian donors with AD or no neurological impairment. We employed cellular bioassays to detect the prion conformers of tau, α-synuclein, and Aβ proteins in brain extracts. In ALS-PDC brain samples, we detected high titers of tau and Aβ prions, but we did not detect α-synuclein prions in either cohort. The specific activity of tau and Aβ prions was increased in Guam ALS-PDC compared with sporadic AD. Applying partial least squares regression to all biochemical and prion infectivity measurements, we demonstrated that the ALS-PDC cohort has a unique molecular signature distinguishable from AD. Our findings argue that Guam ALS-PDC is a distinct double-prion disorder featuring both tau and Aβ prions.
|Journal||Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences of the United States of America|
|State||Published - 28 Mar 2023|