Tau immunoreactivity in peripheral tissues of human aging and select tauopathies

Brittany N. Dugger, Brittany R. Hoffman, Alex Scroggins, Geidy E. Serrano, Charles H. Adler, Holly A. Shill, Christine M. Belden, Marwan N. Sabbagh, John N. Caviness, Erika Driver Dunckley, Thomas G. Beach

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Many studies have been directed at understanding mechanisms of tau aggregation and therapeutics, nearly all focusing on the brain. It is critical to understand the presence of tau in peripheral tissues since this may provide new insights into disease progression and selective vulnerability. The current study sought to determine the presence of select tau species in peripheral tissues in elderly individuals and across an array of tauopathies. Using formalin fixed paraffin embedded sections, we examined abdominal skin, submandibular gland, and sigmoid colon among 69 clinicopathologically defined cases: 19 lacking a clinical neuropathological diagnosis (normal controls), 26 progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), 21 Alzheimer's disease (AD), and 3 with corticobasal degeneration (CBD). Immunohistochemistry was performed using antibodies for “total” tau (HT7) and two phosphorylated tau species (AT8 and pT231). HT7 staining of abdominal skin revealed immunoreactivity of potential nerve elements in 5% of cases (1 AD, 1 AD/PSP, and 1 CBD out of 55 cases examined); skin sections lacked AT8 and pT231 immunoreactive nerve elements. Submandibular glands from all cases had HT7 immunoreactive nerve elements; while pT231 was present in 92% of cases, and AT8 in only 3 cases (2 AD and one AD/PSP case). In sigmoid colon, HT7 immunoreactivity was present in all but 2 cases (97%), pT231 in 54%, and AT8 was present in only 5/62 cases (8%). These data suggest select tau species in CNS tauopathies do not have a high propensity to spread to the periphery and this may hold clues for the understanding of CNS tau pathogenicity and vulnerability.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)132-139
Number of pages8
JournalNeuroscience Letters
StatePublished - Mar 23 2019


  • AT8
  • Colon
  • Propagation
  • Skin
  • Spread
  • Submandibular gland

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General Neuroscience


Dive into the research topics of 'Tau immunoreactivity in peripheral tissues of human aging and select tauopathies'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this