Tauopathies are classified according to whether tau deposits predominantly contain tau isoforms with three or four repeats of the microtubule-binding domain. Those in which four-repeat (4R) tau predominates are known as 4R-tauopathies, and include progressive supranuclear palsy, corticobasal degeneration, argyrophilic grain disease, globular glial tauopathies and conditions associated with specific MAPT mutations. In these diseases, 4R-tau deposits are found in various cell types and anatomical regions of the brain and the conditions share pathological, pathophysiological and clinical characteristics. Despite being considered ‘prototype’ tauopathies and, therefore, ideal for studying neuroprotective agents, 4R-tauopathies are still severe and untreatable diseases for which no validated biomarkers exist. However, advances in research have addressed the issues of phenotypic overlap, early clinical diagnosis, pathophysiology and identification of biomarkers, setting a road map towards development of treatments. New clinical criteria have been developed and large cohorts with early disease are being followed up in prospective studies. New clinical trial readouts are emerging and biomarker research is focused on molecular pathways that have been identified. Lessons learned from failed trials of neuroprotective drugs are being used to design new trials. In this Review, we present an overview of the latest research in 4R-tauopathies, with a focus on progressive supranuclear palsy, and discuss how current evidence dictates ongoing and future research goals.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience