Abnormal Tau proteins in progressive supranuclear palsy. Similarities and differences with the neurofibrillary degeneration of the Alzheimer type

Acta Neuropathol. 1991;81(6):591-6. doi: 10.1007/BF00296367.


We have previously shown that abnormal Tau species are produced during the neurofibrillary degeneration of the Alzheimer type. These abnormal Tau proteins consist of a characteristic triplet named Tau 55, Tau 64 and Tau 69 which are constantly found in Alzheimer's disease (AD) and Downs syndrome brain regions with tangles. To determine if abnormal Tau species are also produced in other neurodegenerative conditions where intraneuronal filamentous Tau aggregates are observed, we have undertaken an immuno-blot study of brain homogenates from patients with progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), a neurological disorder characterized by the presence of tangles in subcortical and cortical brain areas. We show here that abnormal Tau species are produced in PSP but that they are different from those in AD. Indeed, although Tau 64 and 69 were present in PSP brain homogenates, possibly as the result of an abnormal phosphorylation as in AD, they were detected in smaller amounts (three times lower) than in AD. In addition Tau 55 was undetected by the immunological tools, such as the absorbed anti-PHF antisera, which specifically label the abnormal Tau proteins. Also the two-dimensional analysis revealed different isoelectric properties. Our results suggest that the production of abnormal Tau species is a very important event during all types of neurofibrillary degeneration. The differences in the pathological Tau-variant profile that were observed between PSP and AD possibly reflect different etiopathogenetic pathways and might explain the formation of different types of filamentous Tau aggregates.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Alkaline Phosphatase
  • Alzheimer Disease / pathology*
  • Blotting, Western
  • Down Syndrome / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Immunoelectrophoresis, Two-Dimensional
  • Male
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / immunology
  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins / metabolism*
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Degeneration
  • Neurofibrils / physiology*
  • Supranuclear Palsy, Progressive / metabolism*
  • Supranuclear Palsy, Progressive / pathology
  • tau Proteins


  • Microtubule-Associated Proteins
  • tau Proteins
  • Alkaline Phosphatase