GBA variants influence cognitive status in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Introduction

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a relentlessly progressive degenerative disease of upper and lower motor neurons. Approximately 15% of patients display clinical features consistent with frontotemporal dementia (FTD) and 35% display milder degrees of cognitive and behavioural impairment at some stage during their illness.1 Several genes have been reported to cause both ALS and FTD. Nevertheless, it remains unclear why some patients with ALS develop cognitive impairment, while other cases, often within the same family, remain unaffected.

The GBA gene (OMIM *606463) encodes glucocerebrosidase (GCase), a lysosomal enzyme that converts glucocerebroside into glucose and ceramide. Heterozygous GBA mutations increase the risk of Parkinson’s disease (PD) and the risk of cognitive impairment in patients with PD.2

It is increasingly recognised that variants in genes causing Mendelian neurodegenerative diseases may exhibit pleiotropic effects and impact the phenotypic heterogeneity of those disorders. Moreover, lysosomal dysfunction has recently been associated with…

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