The First Historically Reported Italian Family with FTD/ALS Teaches a Lesson on C9orf72 RE: Clinical Heterogeneity and Oligogenic Inheritance

Maria Pia Giannoccaro, Anna Bartoletti-Stella, Silvia Piras, Alfonsina Casalena, Federico Oppi, Giovanni Ambrosetto, Pasquale Montagna, Rocco Liguori, Piero Parchi, Sabina Capellari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: In 1969, Dazzi and Finizio reported the second observation of frontotemporal dementia (FTD) - amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) association in a large Italian kindred affected by an autosomal dominant form of ALS with high penetrance, frequent bulbar onset, and frequent cognitive decline. Objective: To expand the original characterization of this family and report the link with the C9orf72 repeat expansion (RE). Methods: We followed or reviewed the medical records of thirteen patients belonging to the original family and performed genetic analyses in four individuals. Results: Eight patients presented with ALS, four with FTD, and one with schizophrenia. The C9orf72 RE was found in three patients but not in the healthy survivor. Additionally, we found a novel possible pathogenic variant in the ITM2B gene in one patient with a complex phenotype, associating movement disorders, psychiatric and cognitive features, deafness, and optic atrophy. The neuropathological examination of this patient did not show the classical features of ITM2B mutation related dementias suggesting that the putative pathogenic mechanism does not involve cellular mislocalization of the protein or the formation of amyloid plaques. Conclusion: We showed that the original Italian pedigree described with FTD/ALS carries the C9orf72 RE. Moreover, the finding of an additional mutation in another dementia causing gene in a patient with a more complex phenotype suggests a possible role of genetic modifiers in the disease. Together with other reports showing the coexistence of mutations in multiple ALS/FTD causative genes in the same family, our study supports an oligogenic etiology of ALS/FTD.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)687-697
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Alzheimer's Disease
Issue number2
Publication statusPublished - Jan 1 2018


  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • C9orf72 gene
  • familial ALS/FTD
  • frontotemporal dementia
  • ITM2B

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Geriatrics and Gerontology
  • Psychiatry and Mental health


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