Characterization of tau pathologies in gray and white matter of Guam parkinsonism-dementia complex

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Guam parkinsonism-dementia complex (PDC) is a neurodegenerative tauopathy in ethnic Chamorro residents of the Mariana Islands that manifests clinically with parkinsonism as well as dementia and is characterized neuropathologically by prominent cortical neuron loss in association with extensive telencephalic neurofibrillary tau pathology. To further characterize cortical gray and white matter tau, alpha-synuclein and lipid peroxidation pathologies in Guam PDC, we examined the brains of 17 Chamorro PDC and control subjects using biochemical and immunohistological techniques. We observed insoluble tau pathology in both gray and white matter of PDC and Guam control cases, with frontal and temporal lobes being most severely affected. Using phosphorylation dependent anti-tau antibodies, abundant tau inclusions were detected by immunohistochemistry in both neuronal and glial cells of the neocortex, while less alpha-synuclein pathology was observed in more limited brain regions. Further, in sharp contrast to Alzheimer's disease (AD), levels of the lipid peroxidation product 8, 12-iso-iPF2α-VI isoprostane were not elevated in Guam PDC brains relative to controls. Thus, although the tau pathologies of Guam PDC share similarities with AD, the composite Guam PDC neuropathology profile of tau, alpha-synuclein and 8, 12-iso-iPF2α-VI isoprostane reported here more closely resembles that seen in other tauopathies including frontotemporal dementias (FTDs), which may imply that Guam PDC and FTD tauopathies share underlying mechanisms of neurodegeneration.

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