Microglial cell activation and senescence are characteristic of the pathology FXTAS Academic Article uri icon


  • BACKGROUND:Fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome (FXTAS) is a late-onset neurodegenerative disorder associated with premutation alleles of the FMR1 gene. Expansions of more than 200 CGG repeats give rise to fragile X syndrome, the most common inherited form of cognitive impairment. Fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome is characterized by cerebellar tremor and ataxia, and the presence of ubiquitin-positive inclusions in neurons and astrocytes. It has been previously suggested that fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome is associated with an inflammatory state based on signs of oxidative stress-mediated damage and iron deposition. OBJECTIVE:Determine whether the pathology of fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome involves microglial activation and an inflammatory state. METHODS:Using ionized calcium binding adaptor molecule 1 and cluster differentiation 68 antibodies to label microglia, we examined the number and state of activation of microglial cells in the putamen of 13 fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome and 9 control postmortem cases. RESULTS:Nearly half of fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome cases (6 of 13) presented with dystrophic senescent microglial cells. In the remaining fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome cases (7 of 13), the number of microglial cells and their activation state were increased compared to controls. CONCLUSIONS:The presence of senescent microglial cells in half of fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome cases suggests that this indicator could be used, together with the presence of intranuclear inclusions and the presence of iron deposits, as a biomarker to aid in the postmortem diagnosis of fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome. An increased number and activation indicate that microglial cells play a role in the inflammatory state present in the fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome brain. Anti-inflammatory treatment of patients with fragile X-associated tremor/ataxia syndrome may be indicated to slow neurodegeneration. © 2018 International Parkinson and Movement Disorder Society.


  • Martínez Cerdeño, Verónica
  • Hong, Tiffany
  • Amina, Sarwat
  • Lechpammer, Mirna
  • Ariza, Jeanelle
  • Tassone, Flora
  • Noctor, Stephen C
  • Hagerman, Paul
  • Hagerman, Randi

publication date

  • 2018