Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP): Richardson syndrome and other PSP variants

Acta Neurol Scand. 2016 Oct;134(4):242-9. doi: 10.1111/ane.12546. Epub 2016 Jan 6.


Phenotypic heterogeneity of progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) has been increasingly reported in the literature and can be the source of incorrect clinical diagnosis particularly in the early stages of the disease when the classically associated symptoms of early falls and supranuclear gaze palsy may not be apparent. In addition to Richardson syndrome (RS), several atypical clinical phenotypes have been described. Advances in genetic, neuroimaging, and biochemical/molecular technologies contribute to the identification of these clinical subtypes in the context of typical PSP pathological findings. Our goal is to review the phenomenology reported in the literature that is associated with confirmed histopathological changes consistent with a PSP diagnosis and to highlight the clinical spectrum of PSP. A systematic review of the literature in PubMed through July 2015 using MeSH terms and key words related to PSP was conducted. Articles describing PSP classifications, diagnostic criteria, and case reports were reviewed and summarized. Additional PSP phenotypes not seen in recent clinicopathological studies are included. These include primary lateral sclerosis, pallido-nigro-luysian degeneration, axonal dystrophy, and multiple system atrophy in the spectrum of atypical PSP variants beyond the traditionally classified PSP subtypes. This review is intended to help with the diagnostic challenges of atypical PSP variants. We believe that large multicenter clinicopathological studies will help expand our understanding of etiology and specific mechanisms of neurodegeneration and will aid in the appropriate interpretation of outcomes when conducting clinical and basic science research.

Keywords: Richardson syndrome; atypical parkinsonism; phenomenology; progressive supranuclear palsy; tauopathy.

Publication types

  • Review
  • Systematic Review

MeSH terms

  • Humans
  • Parkinson Disease / pathology
  • Parkinson Disease / physiopathology
  • Phenotype
  • Supranuclear Palsy, Progressive / pathology
  • Supranuclear Palsy, Progressive / physiopathology*
  • Supranuclear Palsy, Progressive / therapy
  • Tauopathies / physiopathology

Supplementary concepts

  • Progressive supranuclear palsy atypical