Invited review: Neuropathology of tauopathies: principles and practice

Neuropathol Appl Neurobiol. 2015 Feb;41(1):3-23. doi: 10.1111/nan.12208.


Tauopathies are clinically, morphologically and biochemically heterogeneous neurodegenerative diseases characterized by the deposition of abnormal tau protein in the brain. The neuropathological phenotypes are distinguished based on the involvement of different anatomical areas, cell types and presence of distinct isoforms of tau in the pathological deposits. The nomenclature of primary tauopathies overlaps with the modern classification of frontotemporal lobar degeneration. Neuropathological phenotypes comprise Pick's disease, progressive supranuclear palsy, corticobasal degeneration, argyrophilic grain disease, primary age-related tauopathy, formerly called also as neurofibrillary tangle-only dementia, and a recently characterized entity called globular glial tauopathy. Mutations in the gene encoding the microtubule-associated protein tau are associated with frontotemporal dementia and parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17. In addition, further neurodegenerative conditions with diverse aetiologies may be associated with tau pathologies. Thus, the spectrum of tau pathologies and tauopathy entities expands beyond the traditionally discussed disease forms. Detailed multidisciplinary studies are still required to understand their significance.

Keywords: Pick's disease; argyrophilic grain disease; corticobasal degeneration; globular glial tauopathy; neurofibrillary tangle-dementia; primary age-related tauopathy; progressive supranuclear palsy; tau-astrogliopathy in the elderly; tauopathy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Brain / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Mutation
  • Tauopathies / etiology
  • Tauopathies / genetics
  • Tauopathies / pathology*
  • tau Proteins / genetics
  • tau Proteins / metabolism


  • MAPT protein, human
  • tau Proteins