Two new studies identify potential risk factors associated with frontotemporal dementia


Two recent studies from the University of Eastern Finland show that educational background and previous brain injury potentially influence the risk of frontotemporal dementia.

Frontotemporal dementia (FTD) is one of the most common causes of dementia in people of working age. FTD spectrum disorders, depending on the subtype, have significant effects on behavior, language functions, and cognitive processing. Several genetic mutations have been implicated as contributing to these disorders, but non-genetic and therefore preventable risk factors remain unknown and have rarely been studied.

According to a recent study conducted at the University of Eastern Finland, patients with frontotemporal dementia were, on average, less educated than Alzheimer’s patients. In addition, FTD patients who did not carry the disease-causing gene mutation were less educated and had a higher prevalence of heart disease than FTD patients who carried the 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 not been diagnosed with any neurodegenerative disease. The results are reported in Annals of Clinical and Editorial Neuroscience. Based on the study, it appears that patients with different subtypes of the FTD spectrum, and patients with both hereditary and non-hereditary diseases, differ in terms of several risk factors.

A second study showed that previous traumatic brain injury may increase the risk of FTD, especially in patients who did not carry a causal gene mutation. In addition, it appears that patients who have sustained a head injury, on average, developed FTD earlier than those without. The researchers compared Finnish FTD patients with patients with Alzheimer’s disease, and with healthy controls. The results are reported in Alzheimer’s Disease Journal.

These findings provide a better understanding of the mechanisms of the disease and, perhaps in the future, an opportunity for prevention of frontotemporal dementia.”

Helmi Supila, PhD researcher, University of Eastern Finland and lead author

Both studies were conducted by the research group of Associate Professor Inoue Solji 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, the Sigrid Jusélius Foundation, the Finnish Brain Foundation, the Orion Research Foundation, the Instrumentarium Science Foundation, the Finnish Medical Foundation, and the Maire Taponen Foundation.


Journal 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. Possible modifiable risk factors in familial and intermittent frontotemporal dementia. Anne Klein Transl Neurol Aug 2022; 9 (8): 1195-1205
  2. Soppela H, Krüger J, Hartikainen P, Koivisto A, Haapasalo A, Borroni B, Remes AM, Katisko K, Solje E. J Alzheimer Dis. 2022 Nov 9. doi: 10.3233 / JAD-220545


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