Tau-positive glial inclusions in progressive supranuclear palsy, corticobasal degeneration and Pick's disease

Brain Pathol. 1999 Oct;9(4):663-79. doi: 10.1111/j.1750-3639.1999.tb00549.x.


The presence of tau-positive glial inclusions has been recently found a consistent feature in the brains of patients with progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), corticobasal degeneration (CBD) and Pick's disease (PiD). These inclusions are classified based on cellular origin as tau-positive astrocytes, presumably either fibrillary or protoplasmic, coiled bodies and glial threads. Immunohistochemically, their major structural component is abnormal tau proteins, similar to those found in Alzheimer's disease. Nevertheless, their morphology, including ultrastructural profile, has been suggested to be distinctive for each disease. The profile and extent of particular glial inclusions correlate well with disease phenotype. Highly characteristic correlations include tufts of abnormal fibers in PSP, astrocytic plaques and dense glial threads in CBD and ramified astrocytes and small Pick body-like inclusions in PiD. The significance of the inclusions in disease pathogenesis and their biochemical characteristics remain to be clarified. Nevertheless, these distinctive glial lesions most likely reflect fundamental alterations in isoform composition of tau as well as its specific cellular and regional expression in sporadic tauopathies.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Nerve Degeneration / pathology
  • Neuroglia / pathology*
  • Pick Disease of the Brain / pathology*
  • Supranuclear Palsy, Progressive / pathology*
  • tau Proteins / analysis


  • tau Proteins