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Acta Neuropathol. 2001 Sep;102(3):285-92.

Familial frontotemporal dementia and parkinsonism with a novel N296H mutation in exon 10 of the tau gene and a widespread tau accumulation in the glial cells.

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  • 1Department of Psychiatry, Yokokohama City University School of Medicine, Japan.


We report a 62-year-old Japanese man with familial frontotemporal dementia and a novel missense mutation (N296H) in exon 10 of the tau gene. The patient presented with frontal signs followed by temporal signs and parkinsonism. The brain showed localized frontotemporal lobe atrophy including the precentral gyrus and discoloration of the substantia nigra, and revealed severe neuronal loss with proliferation of tau-positive protoplasmic astroglia in the affected cerebral cortex, tau-positive coiled bodies and threads in the subcortical white matter, and tau-positive pretangle neurons in the subcortical and brain stem nuclei. There were no tau-positive neurofibrillary tangles, Pick bodies, tuft-shaped astrocytes or astrocytic plaques in the cerebral cortex. Immunoelectron microscopically, phosphorylated tau accumulated in both neurons and glial cells in different modalities, such as glial filaments in protoplasmic astroglia, straight tubules in coiled bodies, and free ribosomes in pretangle neurons. These findings suggest that tau proteins are not always assembled in abnormal filaments such as twisted ribbons, paired helical filaments and straight tubules in neurons and glial cells, which have been shown in previous cases with frontotemporal dementia and parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17. Immunoblotting of sarkosyl-insoluble tau exhibited accumulation of four-repeat tau isoforms in the brain. The N296H mutation may interfere with the ability of mutated tau to bind with microtubules and lead to tau aggregation. Further study is necessary to determine whether this mutation can account for the characteristic tau pathology of this case.

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