A new study has defined and established criteria for a new neurological disease closely resembling Alzheimer’s disease called primary age-related tauopathy (PART).
The multi-institutional study co-led by Peter T. Nelson of the University of Kentucky’s Sanders-Brown Center on Aging, and John Crary of Pathology & Neuroscience with Mount Sinai Hospital has found that patients with PART develop cognitive impairment that can be indistinguishable from Alzheimer’s disease, but they lack amyloid plaques.
Plaques in the brain, formed from the accumulation of amyloid protein, are a hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease. Until now, researchers have considered cases with only tangles to be either very early-stage Alzheimer’s or a variant of the disease in which the plaques are harder to detect. However, previous in-depth biochemical and genetic studies have failed to reveal the presence of any abnormal amyloid in these patients. Although tangle-only patients can have memory complaints, the presence of plaques is a key requirement for an Alzheimer’s diagnosis.