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Original research
Phenotypical differences of C9ORF72 gene-positive and negative amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: a comparative case series


Background Hexanucleotide repeat expansions of C9ORF72 account for a significant proportion of autosomal dominant neurodegenerative diseases in the amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)–frontotemporal dementia spectrum. In the absence of a family history, clinical identification of such patients remains difficult. We aimed to identify differences in demographics and clinical presentation between patients with C9ORF72 gene-positive ALS (C9pALS) versus C9ORF72 gene-negative ALS (C9nALS), to aid identification of these patients in the clinic and examine differences in outcomes including survival.

Methods We retrospectively reviewed the clinical presentations of 32 patients with C9pALS and compared their characteristics with a cohort of 46 patients with C9nALS from the same tertiary neurosciences centre.

Results Patients with C9pALS more commonly presented with mixed upper and lower motor signs (C9pALS 87.5%, C9nALS 65.2%; p=0.0352), but less frequently presented with purely upper motor neuron signs (C9pALS 3.1%, C9nALS 21.7%; p=0.0226). The C9pALS cohort had a higher frequency of cognitive impairment (C9pALS 31.3%, C9nALS 10.9%; p=0.0394) and bulbar disease (C9pALS 56.3%, C9nALS 28.3%; p=0.0186). There were no differences between cohorts in age at diagnosis, gender, limb weakness, respiratory symptoms, presentation with predominantly lower motor neuron signs or overall survival.

Discussion Analysis of this ALS clinic cohort at a UK tertiary neurosciences centre adds to the small but growing understanding of the unique clinical features of patients with C9pALS. In the age of precision medicine with expanding opportunities to manage genetic diseases with disease-modifying therapies, clinical identification of such patients is increasingly important as focused therapeutic strategies become available.

  • Motor Neuron Disease
  • Genetic Testing
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases
  • Dementia

Data availability statement

Data are available upon reasonable request.

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