Motor neuron disease beginning with frontotemporal dementia: clinical features and progression

Marta Gromicho*, Magdalena Kuzma-Kozakiewicz, Katarzyna Szacka, Krzysztof Nieporecki, Peter M. Andersen, Julian Grosskreutz, Susanne Petri, Susana Pinto, Hilmi Uysal, Michael Swash, Mamede De Carvalho

*Corresponding author for this work
2 Citations (Scopus)


Objective: To study disease characteristics, progression and outcome in a group of motor neuron disease (MND) patients beginning with frontotemporal dementia (FTD) by comparing them with patients with the typical motor-onset. Methods: 849 patients recruited from tertiary centers were studied according to FTD-onset and motor-onset. We studied clinical data, functional decline and survival. Results: Twenty six patients (3.1%) had FTD-onset of whom seven (26.9%) had coincident motor dysfunction. In those with isolated FTD-onset, motor symptoms developed after a median of 12 months (IQR: 4–18). FTD-onset patients were older at presentation; the bulbar-region was more frequently first affected than in the motor-onset group; there was a predominant upper motor neuron (UMN) phenotype; fasciculations were less common than in motor onset disease but facial and upper limb apraxia was more frequent; as well as ALS and FTD familial history. No differences were observed for gender, frequency of C9orf72 hexanucleotide repeat expansion, family history of Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s diseases, median delay from motor symptoms to diagnosis, median ALSFRS-R rate of change, handedness, emotional lability, depression, weight loss, resting tremor, bradykinesia, sensory changes or neuropathy. Clinical and demographic features were similar between FTD-onset patients developing bulbar MND and bulbar-onset ALS patients. Once bulbar symptoms manifested functional progression and survival were similar to those of bulbar-onset ALS patients. Conclusions: MND patients with FTD-onset have a distinctive phenotype characterized by predominant UMN presentation and rapid progression to bulbar involvement. The main factor impacting functional decline and survival is the onset of bulbar dysfunction.

Original languageEnglish
JournalAmyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis and Frontotemporal Degeneration
Issue number7-8
Pages (from-to)508-516
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 2021

Research Areas and Centers

  • Academic Focus: Center for Brain, Behavior and Metabolism (CBBM)
  • Centers: Center for Neuromuscular Diseases


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