Neurological Sciences

, Volume 34, Issue 3, pp 337–344 | Cite as

Spatial patterns of the tau pathology in progressive supranuclear palsy

  • Richard A. ArmstrongEmail author
  • Nigel J. Cairns
Original Article


Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) is characterized neuropathologically by neuronal loss, gliosis, and the presence of tau-immunoreactive neuronal and glial cell inclusions affecting subcortical and some cortical regions. The objectives of this study were to determine (1) the spatial patterns of the tau-immunoreactive pathology, viz., neurofibrillary tangles (NFT), oligodendroglial inclusions (GI), tufted astrocytes (TA), and Alzheimer’s disease-type neuritic plaques (NP) in PSP and (2) to investigate the spatial correlations between the histological features. Post-mortem material of cortical and subcortical regions of eight PSP cases was studied. Spatial pattern analysis was applied to the NFT, GI, TA, NP, abnormally enlarged neurons (EN), surviving neurons, and glial cells. NFT, GI, and TA were distributed either at random or in regularly distributed clusters. The EN and NP were mainly randomly distributed. Clustering of NFT and EN was more frequent in the cortex and subcortical regions, respectively. Variations in NFT density were not spatially correlated with the densities of either GI or TA, but were positively correlated with the densities of EN and surviving neurons in some regions. (1) NFT were the most widespread tau-immunoreactive pathology in PSP being distributed randomly in subcortical regions and in regular clusters in cortical regions, (2) GI and TA were more localized and exhibited a regular pattern of clustering in subcortical regions, and (3) neuronal and glial cell pathologies were not spatially correlated.


Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) Neurofibrillary tangle (NFT) Oligodendroglial inclusion (GI) Tufted astrocyte (TA) Spatial pattern 



We would like to thank the Department of Neuropathology, Institute of Psychiatry, King’s College London for supplying the cases of PSP and Heidi Barnes and Mavis Kibble for their excellent technical assistance. The authors report no conflict of interest.


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Copyright information

© Springer-Verlag 2012

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Vision SciencesAston UniversityBirminghamUK
  2. 2.Departments of Neurology and Pathology, and ImmunologyWashington University School of MedicineMOUSA

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