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Neurobiol Aging. 1998 Jan-Feb;19(1 Suppl):S85-91.

Glial tau pathology in neurodegenerative diseases: their nature and comparison with neuronal tangles.

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Department of Neuropathology, Tokyo Institute of Psychiatry, Japan.


Tau-positive inclusions that occur in glial cells are called glial fibrillary tangles or, more simply, glial tangles. These include tuft-shaped astrocytes, thorn-shaped astrocytes, coiled bodies, and argyrophilic threads. The latter two structures occur in oligodendroglia. The tau protein in glial tangles is hyperphosphorylated and has similar immunohistochemical profiles to that in neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) except that there are no epitopes derived from alternatively spliced exon 2 and 3. In contrast to NFTs, glial tangles rarely show solid filaments. Such NFT-associated molecules as ubiquitin, apolipoprotein E, alpha1-antichymotrypsin, and heparan sulfate are all absent from glial tangles. These characteristics suggest that glial tangles resemble the pre-tangles that occur in neurons and are thought to represent an early stage of NFTs. Tau pathology in neurodegenerative diseases takes heterogenous forms.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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