Blog > Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) & Brain Research

Frontotemporal Dementia (FTD) & Brain Research

Published on June 17, 2023

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is a type of dementia that affects the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, which are responsible for personality, behavior, language, and emotional regulation. FTD is also sometimes referred to as frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD) or Pick’s disease.

FTD is caused by the degeneration of neurons in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain, which leads to the loss of function in these areas. The exact cause of FTD is not known, but it is thought to be caused by a combination of genetic and environmental factors.

What are the different types of FTD?

There are several different types of FTD, each with its own set of symptoms and characteristics. The three main types of FTD are:

  1. Behavioral variant FTD (bvFTD): This type of FTD is characterized by changes in personality, behavior, and social conduct. People with bvFTD may exhibit inappropriate or impulsive behavior, lack of empathy, and loss of insight into their own behavior.
  2. Semantic variant primary progressive aphasia (svPPA): This type of FTD is characterized by progressive language impairment, including difficulty with word finding, word comprehension, and object recognition.
  3. Nonfluent variant primary progressive aphasia (nfvPPA): This type of FTD is characterized by difficulty with speech production, including hesitancy, stuttering, and difficulty with grammar and sentence structure.

FTD is a progressive condition, meaning that symptoms worsen over time. There is no cure for FTD, but treatments and therapies can help manage symptoms and improve quality of life for people with the condition.



Why has FTD been in the news lately?

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) has been in the news for several reasons. One reason is that it is one of the most common forms of dementia in people under the age of 65, and it is often misdiagnosed as a psychiatric disorder or Alzheimer’s disease, leading to delays in proper diagnosis and treatment.

Another reason is that FTD has been linked to several high-profile cases, including that of Robin Williams, a beloved comedian and actor who died by suicide in 2014. Williams was later found to have had Lewy body dementia, a type of dementia that shares some similarities with FTD.

Research into FTD has also been in the news, as scientists work to better understand the causes of the disease and develop new treatments. Some studies have suggested that genetic factors may play a role in FTD, and researchers are working to identify specific genes that may increase the risk of developing the disease.

In addition, there has been increasing interest in the role of inflammation in FTD, as studies have shown that inflammation may contribute to the degeneration of neurons in the brain. Researchers are exploring the use of anti-inflammatory drugs as a potential treatment for FTD.

Finally, FTD has been in the news due to the COVID-19 pandemic, as studies have suggested that people with dementia, including those with FTD, may be at increased risk of severe illness and death from COVID-19. This has led to concerns about the impact of the pandemic on people with dementia and their families.

How is Precisionary Instruments supporting FTD research?

Compresstome, which is a brand of vibrating microtome used in neuroscience research, has been used in several studies related to frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Vibrating microtomes like the Compresstome are used to slice very thin sections of brain tissue for analysis and imaging.

One study published in the Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology in 2021 used the Compresstome to prepare brain tissue sections for analysis of neuroinflammation in FTD. The researchers found evidence of increased neuroinflammation in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain in people with FTD compared to healthy controls, suggesting a possible role for inflammation in the pathogenesis of the disease.

Another study published in Acta Neuropathologica Communications in 2019 used the Compresstome to prepare brain tissue sections for analysis of tau protein aggregation in FTD. The researchers found evidence of widespread tau pathology in the brains of people with FTD, which is a hallmark feature of the disease.

These are just a few examples of the many studies that have used the Compresstome and other vibrating microtomes in FTD research. Vibrating microtomes are a valuable tool for studying the structure and function of the brain in health and disease, and they continue to be an important part of neuroscience research.

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