Katherine Phan, Ying He, YuHong Fu, Nicolas Dzamko, Surabhi Bhatia, Julian Gold, Dominic Rowe, Yazi D. Ke, Lars M. Ittner, John R. Hodges, Olivier Piguet, Matthew C. Kiernan, Glenda M. Halliday and Woojin Scott Kim, “Pathological manifestation of human endogenous retrovirus K in frontotemporal dementia” Communications Medicine volume 1, Article number: 60 (2021)

Our paper on the human endogenous retrovirus K (HERV-K) in FTD (a novel mechanism) was published in Communications Medicine in Dec 2021. This was followed by an editorial Research Highlight published in Nature Reviews Neurology.

Dementia is a brain disorder characterized by the progressive loss of cognitive abilities. Frontotemporal dementia usually manifests in younger ages compared to other forms of dementia, and sometimes the disease characteristics, such as accumulation of deposits of a protein called TDP-43, resemble those of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a progressive nervous system disease characterized by loss of motor control. Human Endogenous Retrovirus K (HERV-K), a virus that has integrated the human genetic material, has been found to be elevated in patients with ALS with TDP-43 deposits in the nervous system. Here, we measured the level of HERV-K in the blood and brain tissue of patients with frontotemporal dementia and found that it was elevated in both, and this was associated with presence of TDP-43 deposits in the brain. These results improve our understanding of the disease characteristics of frontotemporal dementia.