Filamentous tau pathology in nerve cells, astrocytes, and oligodendrocytes of aged baboons

J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2000 Jan;59(1):39-52. doi: 10.1093/jnen/59.1.39.


Intracellular filamentous inclusions containing abnormally phosphorylated tau protein are hallmarks of several human neurodegenerative disorders. This study reveals tau-positive cytoskeletal abnormalities in neurons and glial cells of aged baboons. The brains of four baboons (Papio hamadryas, 20-30 yr of age) were examined using the Gallyas silver technique for neurofibrillary changes and phosphorylation-dependent anti-tau antibodies (AT8, AT100, AT270, PHF-1, TG-3). Conspicuous changes were noted in two animals, 26 and 30 yr of age. In both animals, a combination of neuronal and glial cytoskeletal pathology was seen preferentially affecting limbic brain areas, including the hippocampal formation. In the 30-yr-old animal, numerous tau-positive inclusions were seen in the granule cells of the fascia dentata. These cells even exhibited an accumulation of argyrophilic neurofibrillary tangles. The glial changes affected both astrocytes and oligodendrocytes. Tau-positive astrocytes were seen in perivascular, subpial, and subependymal locations. Tau-positive oligodendrocytes preferentially occurred in limbic fiber tracts including the entorhinal perforant path. Ultrastructurally, tau-positive straight filaments (10-14 nm) in both neurons and glial cells were revealed by anti-tau immunoelectron microscopy. This study thus indicates the potential usefulness of aged baboons for experimental investigation of neuronal and glial filamentous tau pathology. This nonhuman primate species may provide valuable information pertinent to the broad spectrum of human tauopathies.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aging / pathology*
  • Amyloid beta-Peptides / analysis
  • Animals
  • Astrocytes / chemistry
  • Astrocytes / pathology*
  • Astrocytes / ultrastructure
  • Cytoskeleton / chemistry
  • Cytoskeleton / pathology
  • Female
  • Inclusion Bodies / chemistry
  • Inclusion Bodies / pathology
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Neurons / chemistry
  • Neurons / pathology*
  • Neurons / ultrastructure
  • Oligodendroglia / chemistry
  • Oligodendroglia / pathology*
  • Oligodendroglia / ultrastructure
  • Papio
  • tau Proteins / analysis*


  • Amyloid beta-Peptides
  • tau Proteins