Alzheimer’s disease is characterized by the abnormal accumulation and spread of the tau protein in the brain. An international study can now show how tau spreads according to four distinct patterns that lead to different symptoms with different prognoses of the affected individuals. The study was published in Nature Medicine.
“In contrast to how we have so far interpreted the spread of tau in the brain, these findings indicate that tau pathology in the brain varies according to at least four distinct patterns. This would suggest that Alzheimer’s is an even more heterogeneous disease than previously thought. We now have reason to reevaluate the concept of typical Alzheimer’s, and in the long run also the methods we use to assess the progression of the disease”, says Jacob Vo-gel from McGill University, and the lead author of the study.
The spread of tau in the cerebral cortex is a key marker for Alzheimer’s. In recent years, it has become possible to monitor the accumulation of the toxic protein in the brain of Alzheimer’s patients with the help of PET technology, an advanced medical imaging technique.
For the past thirty years, many researchers have described the development of tau pathology in Alzheimer’s using a single model, despite recurring cases that do not fit that model. However, the current findings explain why different patients may develop different symptoms.
“Because different regions of the brain are affected differently in the four…