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- Glossary Term -

Tau

A protein in the body that aids in stabilizing the proteins that support the structure and shape of neurons and cellular transportation. Tau are abundant in neurons in the central nervous system and are less common elsewhere. Misfolded tau can no longer stabilize microtubules, and this pathology may harm brain cells. Researchers are currently investigating how the later accumulation of tangles of tau proteins interacts with existing a-beta plaques in the disease progression. Emerging evidence from tau PET imaging has revealed that the pattern of tau correlates tightly to brain atrophy, and even the nature of cognitive decline. For example, research shows that patients with word-finding difficulties tend to have more tau in the left hemisphere of the cortex, which processes language. About 40% of people with frontotemporal dementia have tau-positive inclusions. Tau inclusions also appear in the brains of people with corticobasal degeneration (CBD) and progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP).

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