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Transl Neurodegener. 2014 Mar 15;3(1):6. doi: 10.1186/2047-9158-3-6.

In vivo tracking of tau pathology using positron emission tomography (PET) molecular imaging in small animals.

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Translational Neuroimaging Laboratory (TNL), McGill Center for Studies in Aging, Douglas Mental Health University Institute, McGill University, 6875 La Salle Blv - FBC room 3149, Montreal, QC, H4H 1R3, Canada.
Montreal Neurological Institute (MNI), Montreal, Canada.
Department of Biochemistry, Federal University of Rio Grande do Sul (UFRGS), Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Department of Psychiatry, McGill University, Montreal, Brazil.
Contributed equally


Hyperphosphorylation of the tau protein leading to the formation of neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) is a common feature in a wide range of neurodegenerative diseases known as tauopathies, which include Alzheimer's disease (AD) and the frontotemporal dementias (FTDs). Although heavily investigated, the mechanisms underlying the pathogenesis and progression of tauopathies have yet to be fully understood. In this context, several rodent models have been developed that successfully recapitulate the behavioral and neurochemical features of tau pathology, aiming to achieve a better understanding of the link between tau and neurodegeneration. To date, behavioral and biochemical parameters assessed using these models have been conducted using a combination of memory tasks and invasive methods such as cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) sampling or post-mortem analysis. Recently, several novel positron emission tomography (PET) radiopharmaceuticals targeting tau tangles have been developed, allowing for non-invasive in vivo quantification of tau pathology. Combined with tau transgenic models and microPET, these tracers hold the promise of advancing the development of theoretical models and advancing our understanding of the natural history of AD and non-AD tauopathies. In this review, we briefly describe some of the most important insights for understanding the biological basis of tau pathology, and shed light on the opportunity for improved modeling of tau pathology using a combination of tau-radiopharmaceuticals and animal models.

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