The spatial patterns of the tau immunopositive neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions (NCI) in the tauopathies

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  • Richard A. Armstrong

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Tau positive neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions (NCI) are the ‘hallmark’ pathological feature of several neurodegenerative diseases collectively known as the tauopathies. This study compared the spatial patterns of various types of NCI in selected tauopathies including the neurofibrillary tangles (NFT) in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), Pick bodies (PB) in Pick’s disease (PiD), and the tau positive (tau+) neurons in corticobasal degeneration (CBD). In the cerebral cortex of these disorders, the tau+ NCI were distributed in clusters and in a significant proportion of analyses, the clusters were distributed with a regular periodicity parallel to the pia mater. The inclusions in AD, PiD and CBD exhibited a similar range of spatial patterns but in PSP were less frequently clustered and more frequently randomly distributed. In gyri where the NCI were clustered, there was a significant difference in mean cluster size between disorders. Hence, clusters of NFT in AD were larger than those in PSP and the tau+ neurons in CBD and clusters of PB in PiD were larger than the tau+ neurons in CBD and the NFT in PSP. The cluster size of the tau+ neurons in CBD was similar to the NFT in PSP. The data suggest that the formation of clusters of NCI, regularly distributed parallel to the pia mater, is a common feature of the tauopathies indicating similar patterns of cortical degeneration and pathogenic mechanisms across different diseases. Furthermore, the data suggest that cortical degeneration affecting the short and long cortico-cortical pathways may be a characteristic of the tauopathies.


Publication date25 Mar 2010
Publication titleNeuroscience Research Advances
EditorsBenito Figueredo, Fidel Meléndez
PublisherNova science
Number of pages15
ISBN (Print)9781606929674
Original languageEnglish

Publication series

NameNeuroscience Research Progress
PublisherNova Science


  • Tau positive neuronal cytoplasmic inclusions, tauopathies, neurofibrillary tangles, Alzheimer's disease, progressive supranuclear palsy, Pick bodies, Pick’s disease, corticobasal degeneration, cerebral cortex

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