Tau-imaging in neurodegeneration

Methods. 2017 Nov 1;130:114-123. doi: 10.1016/j.ymeth.2017.08.003. Epub 2017 Aug 5.


Pathological cerebral aggregations of proteins are suggested to play a crucial role in the development of neurodegenerative disorders. For example, aggregation of the protein ß-amyloid in form of extracellular amyloid-plaques as well as intraneuronal depositions of the protein tau in form of neurofibrillary tangles represent hallmarks of Alzheimer's disease (AD). Recently, novel tracers for in vivo molecular imaging of tau-aggregates in the brain have been introduced, complementing existing tracers for imaging amyloid-plaques. Available data on these novel tracers indicate that the subject of Tau-PET may be of considerable complexity. On the one hand this refers to the various forms of appearance of tau-pathology in different types of neurodegenerative disorders. On the other hand, a number of hurdles regarding validation of these tracers still need to be overcome with regard to comparability and standardization of the different tracers, observed off-target/non-specific binding and quantitative interpretation of the signal. These issues will have to be clarified before systematic clinical application of this exciting new methodological approach may become possible. Potential applications refer to early detection of neurodegeneration, differential diagnosis between tauopathies and non-tauopathies and specific patient selection and follow-up in therapy trials.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / diagnostic imaging
  • Brain / metabolism
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18 / administration & dosage
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18 / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / diagnostic imaging*
  • Neurodegenerative Diseases / metabolism*
  • Positron Emission Tomography Computed Tomography / methods*
  • Positron Emission Tomography Computed Tomography / trends
  • Protein Binding / physiology
  • Tauopathies / diagnostic imaging
  • Tauopathies / metabolism
  • tau Proteins / metabolism*


  • tau Proteins
  • Fluorodeoxyglucose F18