The Role of Tau Imaging in Parkinsonian Disorders

Curr Neurol Neurosci Rep. 2018 Oct 6;18(12):86. doi: 10.1007/s11910-018-0898-3.


Purpose of review: Differential diagnosis of atypical Parkinson syndromes (APS) is difficult as clinical presentations may vary and as there is a strong overlap between disease entities. Aggregations of misfolded and hyperphosphorylated tau proteins are the common denominator of many of these diseases.

Recent findings: Several tau targeting positron emission tomography (PET) tracers have been evaluated as possible biomarkers in APS in the recent years. For Parkinson's disease, dementia with Lewy bodies, progressive supranuclear palsy, and corticobasal degeneration, promising results have been reported with regard to the ability to detect the presence of disease and to discriminate patients from controls. However, the discussion about the specificity of the first-generation radiotracers and their value in the clinical context is ongoing. A combined interpretation of signal strength and distribution pattern in PET scans with first- and second-generation tracers may be helpful in clinical diagnosis and follow-up of patients with APS.

Keywords: Atypical Parkinson syndromes; Flortaucipir; PBB3; THK-5351; Tau PET.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnosis
  • Alzheimer Disease / diagnostic imaging
  • Alzheimer Disease / metabolism
  • Diagnosis, Differential
  • Humans
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / diagnostic imaging*
  • Parkinsonian Disorders / metabolism*
  • Positron-Emission Tomography / methods
  • Supranuclear Palsy, Progressive / diagnosis
  • Supranuclear Palsy, Progressive / diagnostic imaging
  • Supranuclear Palsy, Progressive / metabolism
  • tau Proteins / metabolism*


  • tau Proteins