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J Neurol Sci. 1998 Jul 15;159(1):73-81.

Regional quantitative analysis of tau-positive neurons in progressive supranuclear palsy: comparison with Alzheimer's disease.

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Department of Psychiatry, Yokohama City University School of Medicine, Japan.


In patients with progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), various tau-positive abnormal structures are found in the cerebral cortex as well as in the subcortical nuclei. Similar tau-positive abnormalities are also identified in cortico-basal degeneration (CBD). It is therefore questionable as to whether PSP can be neuropathologically differentiated from CBD. It also remains nuclear whether neurofibrillary tangles (NFT) in the cerebral cortex of PSP patients consist of PSP-NFT or concomitant Alzheimer's disease (AD)-NFT, although there have been some reports suggesting that PSP- and AD-NFT are different with respect to distribution pattern and biochemical character. In this study, a regional quantitative analysis of the distribution and antigenicity of tau-positive neurons (TPN) was performed in PSP cases and compared with that in AD cases. TPN consisted of NFT with tangle-formation and pretangle neurons (PN) without tangle-formation. In addition, NFT were subdivided into mature and immature NFT according to the difference of staining properties with anti-tau-related antibodies. The comparison of the TPN of the PSP cases with those of the AD cases revealed that the degree of tangle-formation in the TPN of AD was similar in all of the examined regions, while that in the TPN of PSP varied according to the region and case. Moreover, the NFT in the PSP and AD cases had different distributions according to the cortical layer and subnucleus, even in the common predilection sites of PSP and AD, suggesting that NFT in these regions of the PSP cases consist mainly of PSP-NFT. In addition, the PSP cases could be divided into two groups according to the difference of the tangle-formation of TPN; group I with typical PSP pathology and group II with atypical PSP pathology similar to CBD. This suggests that there is a continuity between PSP and CBD with respect to the distribution and antigenicity of TPN.

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