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Specific Pathological Tau Protein Variants Characterize Pick's Disease

André Delacourte PhD, Yves Robitaille MD, FCAP, Nicolas Sergeant MSc, Luc Buée Phd, Patrick R. Hof MD, Annick Wattez BSc, Andrée Laroche-Cholette MD, FRCP (C), Jean Mathieu MD, FRCP (C), Pierre Chagnon PhD, Denis Gauvreau PhD
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/00005072-199602000-00004 159-168 First published online: 1 February 1996


Pick's disease (PiD) is characterized by a pan-laminar frontotemporal cortical atrophy, widespread degeneration of the white matter, chromatolytic neurons, and Pick bodies (PB). Microtubule-associated Tau proteins are the main cytoskeletal components modified during these neurodegenerative changes. In the present study, pathological alterations of Tau proteins were investigated in the brains of five PiD cases at both neuropathological and biochemical levels, using the monoclonal antibody AD2 which recognizes a phosphorylation-dependent Tau epitope and strongly labeled PB. A large number of cortical and subcortical regions were studied on frozen materials. Tau proteins were analyzed on mono- and two-dimensional gel electrophoreses using a quantitative western blot approach. In all specimens, a 55 and 64 kDa Tau doublet was observed in limbic, frontal, and temporal cortices as well as in striatum and substantia nigra. In contrast, Alzheimer's disease (AD) brains are characterized by the presence of the 55, 64, and 69 kDa Tau triplet whereas the 64 and 69 kDa doublet is more typical of progressive supranuclear palsy and corticobasal degeneration. Thus, the 55 and 64 kDa doublet appears to be specific to PiD, less acidic than AD Tau proteins, and well correlated with the presence of PB.

Key Words
  • Chromatolytic neurons
  • Pathological Tau proteins
  • Phosphorylation
  • Pick bodies
  • Pick's disease
  • Two-dimensional gel electrophoresis