Two new studies identify potential risk factors associated with frontotemporal dementia

Two recent studies from the University of Eastern Finland show that education and previous traumatic brain injury may influence the risk of frontotemporal dementia.

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is one of the most common causes of dementia in people of working age. Depending on the subtype, FTD spectrum disorders have major effects on behaviour, language functions and cognitive processing. Many genetic mutations have been implicated in contributing to these conditions, but their non-genetic and thus potentially preventable risk factors remain unknown and understudied.

According to a recent study conducted at the University of Eastern Finland, patients with frontotemporal dementia were, on average, less educated than patients with Alzheimer’s disease. In addition, FTD patients who did not carry a genetic mutation causing the disease were less educated and had a higher prevalence of heart disease compared to FTD patients who carried a mutation. The researchers used extensive data from more than 1,000 patients, including patients from Finland and Italy, with all the most common subtypes of FTD represented. In addition to patients with FTD and patients with Alzheimer’s disease, the study included a control group that had no diagnosis of a neurodegenerative disease. The results have arrived Annals of clinical and translational neurology. Based on the study, it appears that patients with different subtypes of the FTD spectrum, and those with genetic and non-genetic disease, differ in terms of different risk factors.

A second study shows that previous traumatic brain injury may increase the risk of FTD, especially in patients who did not carry a causative genetic mutation. In addition, patients who sustained head injuries seemed to develop FTD earlier than others on average. The researchers compared Finnish FTD patients with patients with Alzheimer’s disease and with healthy controls. The findings were reported in Journal of Alzheimer’s disease.

These results provide a better understanding of the disease mechanisms and, possibly in the future, an opportunity to prevent frontotemporal dementia.”

Helmi Soppela, doctoral researcher, University of Eastern Finland and lead author

Both studies were conducted by Adjunct Professor Eino Solje’s research group as part of the FinFTD consortium. The partners were the University of Oulu and the University of Brescia.

The studies were conducted with support from the Academy of Finland, Sigrid Jusélius Foundation, Finnish Brain Foundation, Orion Research Foundation, Instrumentarium Science Foundation, Finnish Medical Foundation and Maire Taponen Foundation.


University of Eastern Finland (UEF Communications)

Magazine references:

  1. Soppela H, Katisko K, Gadola Y, Krüger J, Hartikainen P, Alberici A, Benussi A, Koivisto A, Haapasalo A, Remes AM, Borroni B, Solje E. Modifiable potential risk factors in familial and sporadic frontotemporal dementia. Ann Clin Transl Neurol 2022 Aug;9(8):1195-1205
  2. Soppela H, Krüger J, Hartikainen P, Koivisto A, Haapasalo A, Borroni B, Remes AM, Katisko K, Solje E. Traumatic brain injury is associated with earlier onset in sporadic frontotemporal dementia. J Alzheimer Dis. Nov. 9, 2022. doi: 10.3233/JAD-220545

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