, Volume 96, Issue 4, pp 401-408

Astrocytic plaques and tufts of abnormal fibers do not coexist in corticobasal degeneration and progressive supranuclear palsy

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Abstract

Corticobasal degeneration (CBD) and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) are characterized by their unique clinical features and neuronal pathology. Although astrocytic plaques and tufts of abnormal fibers have been suggested to be specific histopathologic markers, recent studies have revealed significant clinicopathologic overlap between CBD and PSP. Based on the distinctive camera lucida profile of astrocytic inclusions on Gallyas-Braak silver staining, we found that astrocytic plaques and tufts of abnormal fibers did not coexist in the same patient among 30 cases of clinically diagnosed CBD, PSP and atypical Parkinson’s disease. Using Tau immunohistochemistry it was difficult to verify the absence of tufts of abnormal fibers. A morphometric analysis revealed that the two groups classified by the presence or absence of astrocytic plaques and tufts of abnormal fibers exhibited significant differences in the density of ballooned neurons and neurofibrillary tangles and degeneration of the subcortical nuclei. Assessment using the NINDS neuropathologic criteria revealed that the cases with astrocytic plaques and tufts of abnormal fibers closely correspond to CBD and typical PSP, respectively. In addition, the cases lacking either of these two astrocytic inclusions had atypical PSP according to the NINDS criteria, and were associated with novel tau-positive astrocytes (spiny astrocytes). We thus conclude that astrocytic plaques and tufts of abnormal fibers are highly characteristic structures for CBD and typical PSP, respectively. We emphasize the importance of strict differentiation between different astrocytic inclusions not only for diagnosis, but also for further studies for elucidation of their role in the disease mechanisms of CBD and PSP.

Received: 10 December 1997 / Revised, accepted: 23 March 1998