Acta Neuropathologica

, Volume 133, Issue 5, pp 809–823 | Cite as

Incipient progressive supranuclear palsy is more common than expected and may comprise clinicopathological subtypes: a forensic autopsy series

  • Koji Yoshida
  • Yukiko Hata
  • Koshi Kinoshita
  • Shutaro Takashima
  • Kortaro Tanaka
  • Naoki NishidaEmail author
Original Paper


We investigated 998 serial Japanese forensic autopsy cases (0–101 years old, mean age 61.7 ± 21.9), with no case selection, using immunohistochemistry to detect cases with progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). Twenty-nine cases (mean age 82.3 ± 7.2 years, 11 males, 18 females) fulfilled the National Institute of Neuronal Disorders and Stroke (NINDS)-PSP pathological criteria (2.9% of all cases, 4.6% of cases over 60). All had neuronal and glial inclusions in the basal ganglia and brainstem. However, 13 cases had low tau pathology and were categorized as atypical PSP. In addition to PSP pathology, multiple types of astrocytic inclusions and comorbid proteinopathies, particularly a high prevalence of argyrophilic grain disease, were found. All cases had not been diagnosed with PSP and had preserved daily functioning prior to death. However, 14 (48.3%), 11 (37.9%), and 16 (55.2%) cases showed signs of dementia, depressive state, and gait disturbance, respectively. Sixteen accidental death cases (55.2%), including from falls and getting lost, and 11 suicide cases (37.9%) appear to have a relationship with incipient PSP pathology. Cluster analysis using the distribution and amount of 4-repeat-tau pathology classified the cases into three subgroups: Group 1 (10 cases) had typical PSP pathology and seven cases (70.0%) had dementia as the most frequent symptom; Group 2 (7 cases) had significantly higher frequency of gait disorder (6 cases, 85.7%), and less neocortical tau pathology than Group 1; Group 3 (12 cases) had relatively mild PSP pathology and high argyrophilic grain burdens. Granular-shaped astrocytes were the dominant astrocytic inclusion in all cases. We conclude that in forensic cases incipient PSP occurs with a higher prevalence than expected. If these findings can be extrapolated to other population-based cohorts, PSP may be more common than previously thought.


Astrocytes Autopsy Immunohistochemistry Neuropathology Progressive supranuclear palsy Tauopathy 



The authors thank Ms. Syuko Matsumori, Ms. Tamae Sasakura, Mr. Noboru Onozuka, and Mr. Osamu Yamamoto for their technical assistance.

Compliance with ethical standards

Conflict of interest

The authors declare that they have no conflicts of interest.

Ethical approval

All procedures performed in studies involving human participants in accordance with the ethical standards of the institutional and/or national research committee and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards.

Supplementary material

401_2016_1665_MOESM1_ESM.doc (60 kb)
Supplementary material 1 (DOC 61 kb)
401_2016_1665_MOESM2_ESM.doc (52 kb)
Supplementary material 2 (DOC 52 kb)


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag Berlin Heidelberg 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of NeurologyToyama University HospitalToyamaJapan
  2. 2.Department of Legal Medicine, Graduate School of Medicine and Pharmaceutical SciencesUniversity of ToyamaToyama-shiJapan

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