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Causes of Frontotemporal Dementia

About half of all individuals with frontotemporal dementia have some family history of FTD or another dementia. Frontotemporal dementia affects men and women about equally.

The cause of FTD is unknown, but some cases are due to a genetic mutation. More specifically, in these individuals the onset of FTD seems to occur as a result of mutations concerning the so-called Tau gene and the proteins it helps produce. These abnormal proteins accumulate in the brain and can form Pick bodies, which are named after Dr. Arnold Pick who first identified them. These proteins and Pick bodies disrupt brain cell function in similar ways to the plaques and tangles found in Alzheimer’s disease and the Lewy bodies found in Lewy body dementia. However, unlike Alzheimer’s disease and Lewy body dementia, frontotemporal dementia mainly affects the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain. These areas are the centers for thought, speech, and behavior.

View References

University of California – San Francisco Memory and Aging Center. Frontotemporal Dementia: Genetics. Available at: http://memory.ucsf.edu/ftd/overview/biology/genetics/multiple/ftd. Accessed July 7, 2009.

Seeley WW. Frontotemporal dementia neuroimaging: a guide for clinicians. Frontiers of Neurology and Neuroscience. 2009;24:160-7.

Resources

Pick's Disease: Causes

Source: National Institutes of Health
Description: This section of a web page discusses the causes and risk factors of Pick's disease. The article mentions abnormal substances in the brains of people with Pick's, and discusses genetics, gender, and age in relation to the chances of getting Pick's disease.

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Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration (FTLD)

Source: Alzheimer's Australia
Description: This fact sheet describes the group of dementias (Fronto Temporal Dementia, Progressive non-Fluent Aphasia, Semantic Dementia and Pick’s disease) called frontotemportal lobar degeneration (FTLD) and their causes, symptoms, progression, and treatment.

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