Cerebral Tau Deposition in Comorbid Progressive Supranuclear Palsy and Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis: An [<sup>18</sup>F]-Flortaucipir and 7T MRI Study Journal Articles uri icon

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  • <b><i>Introduction:</i></b> Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) is a four-repeat tauopathy characterized by multiple clinicopathologic subtypes. Advanced neuroimaging techniques have shown an early ability to distinguish PSP subtypes noninvasively for improved diagnosis. This study utilized tau PET imaging and MRI techniques at 7T to determine the neuroimaging profile of a participant with comorbid PSP and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). <b><i>Method:</i></b> [<sup>18</sup>F]-flortaucipir PET imaging was performed on one participant with PSP-ALS, one participant with typical PSP (Richardson’s syndrome; PSP-RS), and 15 healthy control volunteers. Standardized uptake value ratio (SUVR) in each brain region was compared between PSP participants and controls. Quantitative susceptibility mapping (QSM) and inflow-based vascular-space occupancy MRI at 7T were performed on the two PSP participants and on two age-matched healthy controls to evaluate for differences in regional brain iron content and arteriolar cerebral blood volume (CBVa), respectively. <b><i>Results:</i></b> In the participant with PSP-ALS, the precentral gyrus demonstrated the highest [<sup>18</sup>F]-flortaucipir uptake of all brain regions relative to controls (z-score 1.94). In the participant with PSP-RS, [<sup>18</sup>F]-flortaucipir uptake relative to controls was highest in subcortical regions, including the pallidum, thalamus, hippocampus, and brainstem (z-scores 1.08, 1.41, 1.49, 1.32, respectively). Susceptibility values as a measure of brain iron content were higher in the globus pallidus and substantia nigra than in the midbrain and pons in each participant, regardless of group. CBVa values tended to be higher in the subcortical gray matter in PSP participants than in controls, although large measurement variability was noted in controls across multiple regions. <b><i>Conclusion:</i></b> In vivo tau PET imaging of an individual with PSP-ALS overlap demonstrated increased tau burden in the motor cortex that was not observed in PSP-RS or control participants. Consistent with prior PET studies, tau burden in PSP-RS was mainly observed in subcortical regions, including the brainstem and basal ganglia. QSM data suggest that off-target binding to iron may account for some but not all of the increased [<sup>18</sup>F]-flortaucipir uptake in the basal ganglia in PSP-RS. These findings support existing evidence that tau PET imaging can distinguish among PSP subtypes by detecting distinct regional patterns of tau deposition in the brain. Larger studies are needed to determine whether CBVa is sensitive to changes in brain microvasculature in PSP.


  • Cheong, Ian
  • Du, Yong
  • Smith, Gwenn
  • Hua, Jun
  • Li, Xu
  • Pantelyat, Alexander

publication date

  • 2023