Tuft-shaped astrocytes in Lewy body disease
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- Hishikawa, N., Hashizume, Y., Yoshida, M. et al. Acta Neuropathol (2005) 109: 373. doi:10.1007/s00401-004-0967-3
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We investigated the occurrence and distribution of tuft-shaped astrocytes (TuSAs) in 60 brains from patients with Lewy body disease (LBD), which were clinically diagnosed as Parkinson’s disease (PD) or dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), and 85 brains from control subjects. TuSAs have been documented as a neuropathological hallmark of progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). We found phosphorylated tau (p-tau)-positive and α-synuclein-negative TuSAs in 10 of 60 patients with LBD and 3 of 85 control cases. TuSAs were mainly located within the precentral and premotor gyri of the frontal lobe cortex. There were only few TuSAs, but the distribution pattern and morphological and immunohistological features were similar to that in PSP. Furthermore, other p-tau positive structures, including aggregates in neurons, coiled-like glial cells and threads showed a similar distribution to those in PSP; mainly in the hippocampus, striatum, subthalamic nucleus, precentral and premotor gyri, brainstem nucleus, and dentate nucleus. In these cases, however, neuronal loss and gliosis were not seen in the regions involved in PSP, such as the subthalamic nucleus, pallidum, inferior olivary, cerebellar dentate nuclei, and periaqueductal gray matter. Clinical features were indistinguishable between the LBD with and without TuSAs. The appearance of TuSAs was not related to the frequency of Lewy bodies, neurofibrillary tangles, and senile plaques, but was significantly more pronounced with advancing age in both LBD and controls. These findings suggest that in a subgroup of elderly individual cases, especially associated with LB pathology, the glial and neuronal p-tau accumulation is increased and has a distributional pattern similar to PSP.