What is the pathology of tauopathies?

Updated: Dec 23, 2019
  • Author: Thomas J Montine, MD, PhD; Chief Editor: Adekunle M Adesina, MD, PhD  more...
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Tauopathies are a heterogenous group of neurodegenerative disorders that may culminate in dementia and are characterized by abnormal accumulations of tau protein, often both in neurons and glia (see the image below). [27, 28]  Other pathologic hallmarks of brain regions affected by tau pathology are activated microglia, astrocytes, and elevated levels of proinflammatory molecules. [28]

This group of neurogenerative disorders includes corticobasal ganglionic degeneration, the Parkinson-dementia complex of Guam (also called Bodig-Lytigo), and argyrophilic grain disease. Several lines of evidence suggest that AD is also a tauopathy. [28, 29] The clinical presentation of these diseases varies and includes both cognitive impairment and movement disorders. [29, 30]

Dementia pathology. Immunohistochemical staining ( Dementia pathology. Immunohistochemical staining (brown) against tau at 400× magnification reveals glial immunoreactivity that is characteristic of this case of cortico-basal ganglionic degeneration.

A novel aspect of tauopathies is the potential for cell-to-cell propagation. [30]

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