Recent advances in the understanding of tau protein and movement disorders

Zoe Arvanitakis, Zbigniew K. Wszolek

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review

18 Scopus citations


Tau plays an important role in movement disorders. The accumulation of pathological tau is a major substrate of frontotemporal dementia and parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17, progressive supranuclear palsy, and corticobasal degeneration. Over the past year, several new mutations on the tau gene have been found. These mutations have been classified into three groups: (i) mutations in constitutively spliced exons; (ii) mutations in the alternatively spliced exon 10; and (iii) mutations of the exon 10 5′ splice site. Some patients presenting with frontotemporal dementia and parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17 transiently respond to levodopa therapy. The significance of Pick bodies was recognized by a recent study on kindred with the Glu342Val tau mutation. In sporadic cases of progressive supranuclear palsy, the presence of the H1 haplotype was found to be a risk factor. Corticobasal degeneration shares a common genetic background with progressive supranuclear palsy. This opens the question of whether corticobasal degeneration represents a separate disorder or a spectrum of disease with progressive supranuclear palsy. However, distinguishing features are observed, and include oculomotor abnormalities, which may help to differentiate these two disorders on clinical grounds. Despite recent advances in the understanding of the tauopathies, there are still no curative therapies available. It is hoped that studies in transgenic tau animal models will lead to the development of successful treatments.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)491-497
Number of pages7
JournalCurrent opinion in neurology
Issue number4
StatePublished - Aug 14 2001

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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