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Autonomic dysregulation in frontotemporal dementia
  1. R M Ahmed1,2,3,
  2. V Iodice4,
  3. N Daveson1,
  4. M C Kiernan1,5,
  5. O Piguet1,3,6,
  6. J R Hodges1,3,6
  1. 1 Neuroscience Research Australia, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  2. 2 Prince of Wales Clinical School, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  3. 3 ARC Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders, the University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  4. 4 Department of Autonomic Medicine, National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London, UK
  5. 5 Sydney Medical School, Brain and Mind Research Institute, University of Sydney, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  6. 6 School of Medical Sciences, the University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia
  1. Correspondence to Dr R M Ahmed, Neuroscience Research Australia, Barker St, Randwick, NSW 2031, Australia; r.ahmed{at}

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Autonomic symptoms are associated with a number of neurodegenerative conditions.1 Cerebral structures mediating these symptoms include the anterior cingulate cortex, insular, amygdala, hypothalamus and brainstem.1 ,2 Of the cerebral structures implicated in autonomic control, the hypothalamus3 and insula4 undergo pathological changes in frontotemporal dementia (FTD). Given the locus of the pathology, it is likely that other hypothalamic functions such as blood pressure control, thermoregulation and urinary control may be affected in FTD through the process of autonomic dysfunction.

Cardiac dysfunction,5 urinary dysfunction6 and thermoregulatory dysfunction7 have been previously reported in FTD; features which were included in the original 1998 diagnostic criteria.8 Despite these reports, investigations into the integrity of the autonomic system and whether dysfunction results in clinically significant symptoms have been limited.

Carers of 69 patients with dementia: 28 behavioural-variant FTD (bvFTD; 10 female (F), 18 male (M)), 20 semantic dementia (SD; 9 F, 11 M), 21 Alzheimer's disease (AD; 10 F, 11 M) from the FTD clinic at Neuroscience Research Australia, completed the Autonomic Symptoms Questionnaire (ASQ), which comprises 44 questions that examine physical symptoms related to autonomic functions including blood pressure/cardiovascular function, gastrointestinal, temperature regulation and sweating, urinary symptoms and sleep. The survey was validated in the Autonomic unit at the National Hospital for Neurology and Neurosurgery, London (see online supplementary file S1). Carers were asked to rate the frequency of …

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  • Contributors RMA was involved in study concept, data collection, statistical analyses, manuscript writing and preparation. VI, MCK and OP were involved in study concept, manuscript writing and preparation. ND was involved in data collection, manuscript writing and preparation. JRH was involved in study concept, manuscript writing and preparation; and study supervision.

  • Funding This work was supported by funding to Forefront, a collaborative research group dedicated to the study of frontotemporal dementia and motor neurone disease, from the National Health and Medical Research Council of Australia (NHMRC) programme grant (#1037746) and the Australian Research Council Centre of Excellence in Cognition and its Disorders Memory Node (#CE110001021) and other grants/sources (NHMRC project grant #1003139). RMA is a Royal Australasian College of Physicians PhD scholar and MND Australia PhD scholar. OP is an NHMRC Career Development Research Fellow (#1022684).

  • Competing interests None.

  • Ethics approval University of NSW HREC committee.

  • Provenance and peer review Not commissioned; externally peer reviewed.

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