Corticobasal degeneration: widespread argentophilic threads and glia in addition to neurofibrillary tangles. Similarities of cytoskeletal abnormalities in corticobasal degeneration and progressive supranuclear palsy

J Neurol Sci. 1996 Jun;138(1-2):66-77. doi: 10.1016/0022-510x(95)00347-5.


A 57-year-old man had exhibited cortical sensory disturbance, rigidity, spasticity, dementia, alien hand, grasp reflex, supranuclear ophthalmoplegia, pseudobulbar palsy, and neck dystonia for 4 years. Histological examination of autopsied specimens revealed neuronal loss in the cerebral cortex, with ballooned neurons, subthalamic nucleus, substantia nigra, basal ganglia, midbrain tegmentum, and the thalamus. There were neurofibrillary tangles in the subthalamic nucleus and the substantia nigra. Gallyas-Braak silver impregnation demonstrated numerous argentophilic tangles, threads, and a few argentophilic glia in the cerebral cortex, subcortical white matter, particularly in the precentral gyrus, subcortical nuclei, and the brainstem. These argentophilic structures were largely positive for tau, and negative for ubiquitin, paired helical filaments, and phosphorylated neurofilament. Ultrastructurally, 15-nm-wide straight tubules were observed in the neurons of the substantia nigra, globus pallidus, and the precentral cortex, coexisting with a few twisted tubules periodically constricted at 160- to 230-nm intervals. It was conclusively shown that Gallyas- and tau-positive cytoskeletal abnormalities occurred widely in brain of corticobasal degeneration. Both distribution and morphology of abnormal phosphorylated tau protein in corticobasal degeneration appear to resemble these features in progressive supranuclear palsy. These findings suggest a common cytoskeletal etiopathological significance in corticobasal degeneration and progressive supranuclear palsy.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Basal Ganglia / pathology
  • Basal Ganglia / physiopathology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology*
  • Cytoskeleton / ultrastructure*
  • Functional Laterality / physiology
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Degeneration / physiology*
  • Neurofibrillary Tangles / pathology*
  • Neuroglia / pathology
  • Silver Staining
  • Supranuclear Palsy, Progressive / pathology*