The Relationship Between Development of Neuronal and Astrocytic Tau Pathologies in Subcortical Nuclei and Progression of Argyrophilic Grain Disease

Brain Pathol. 2016 Jul;26(4):488-505. doi: 10.1111/bpa.12319. Epub 2015 Nov 9.


Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) cases frequently have argyrophilic grain disease (AGD). However, the PSP-like tau pathology in AGD cases has not been fully clarified. To address this, we examined tau pathologies in the subcortical nuclei and frontal cortex in 19 AGD cases that did not meet the pathological criteria of PSP or corticobasal degeneration, nine PSP cases and 20 Braak NFT stage-matched controls. Of the 19 AGD cases, five (26.3%) had a few Gallyas-positive tau-positive tufted astrocytes (TAs) and Gallyas-negative tau-positive TA-like astrocytic inclusions (TAIs), and six (31.6%) had only TAIs in the striatum and/or frontal cortex. Subcortical tau pathology was sequentially and significantly greater in AGD cases lacking these tau-positive astrocytic lesions, AGD cases having them, and PSP cases than in controls. There was a significant correlation between three histologic factors, including the AGD stage and the quantities of subcortical neuronal and astrocytic tau pathologies. Tau immunoblotting demonstrated 68- and 64-kDa bands and 33-kDa low-molecular mass tau fragments in PSP cases, and although with lesser intensity, in AGD cases with and without TAs and TAIs also. Given these findings, the progression of AGD may be associated with development of the neuronal and astrocytic tau pathologies characteristic of PSP.

Keywords: argyrophilic grain disease; progressive supranuclear palsy; subcortical nuclei; tau; tufted astrocyte.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Astrocytes / pathology*
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Neurons / pathology*
  • Tauopathies / pathology*