Differential Vulnerability of Hippocampal Subfields in Primary Age-Related Tauopathy and Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy

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Chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) is a tauopathy associated with repetitive mild head impacts characterized by perivascular hyperphosphorylated tau (p-tau) in neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs) and neurites in the depths of the neocortical sulci. In moderate to advanced CTE, NFTs accumulate in the hippocampus, potentially overlapping neuroanatomically with primary age-related tauopathy (PART), an age-related tauopathy characterized by Alzheimer disease-like tau pathology in the hippocampus devoid of amyloid plaques. We measured p-tau burden using positive-pixel counts on immunohistochemically stained and neuroanatomically segmented hippocampal tissue. Subjects with CTE had a higher total p-tau burden than PART subjects in all sectors (p = 0.005). Within groups, PART had significantly higher total p-tau burden in CA1/subiculum compared to CA3 (p = 0.02) and CA4 (p = 0.01) and total p-tau burden in CA2 trended higher than CA4 (p = 0.06). In CTE, total p-tau burden in CA1/subiculum was significantly higher than in the dentate gyrus; and CA2 also trended higher than dentate gyrus (p = 0.01, p = 0.06). When controlling for p-tau burden across the entire hippocampus, CA3 and CA4 had significantly higher p-tau burden in CTE than PART (p < 0.0001). These data demonstrate differences in hippocampal p-tau burden and regional distribution in CTE compared to PART that might be helpful in differential diagnosis and reveal insights into disease pathogenesis.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)781-789
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology
Issue number10
StatePublished - Sep 19 2022


  • Aging
  • Chronic traumatic encephalopathy
  • Primary age-related tauopathy
  • Repetitive head impacts
  • Tauopathy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Medicine(all)


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