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Nature Research, Nature Communications, 1(13), 2022

DOI: 10.1038/s41467-022-28896-3



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Tau deposition patterns are associated with functional connectivity in primary tauopathies

This paper is made freely available by the publisher.
This paper is made freely available by the publisher.

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Data provided by SHERPA/RoMEO


AbstractTau pathology is the main driver of neuronal dysfunction in 4-repeat tauopathies, including cortico-basal degeneration and progressive supranuclear palsy. Tau is assumed to spread prion-like across connected neurons, but the mechanisms of tau propagation are largely elusive in 4-repeat tauopathies, characterized not only by neuronal but also by astroglial and oligodendroglial tau accumulation. Here, we assess whether connectivity is associated with 4R-tau deposition patterns by combining resting-state fMRI connectomics with both 2nd generation 18F-PI-2620 tau-PET in 46 patients with clinically diagnosed 4-repeat tauopathies and post-mortem cell-type-specific regional tau assessments from two independent progressive supranuclear palsy patient samples (n = 97 and n = 96). We find that inter-regional connectivity is associated with higher inter-regional correlation of both tau-PET and post-mortem tau levels in 4-repeat tauopathies. In regional cell-type specific post-mortem tau assessments, this association is stronger for neuronal than for astroglial or oligodendroglial tau, suggesting that connectivity is primarily associated with neuronal tau accumulation. Using tau-PET we find further that patient-level tau patterns are associated with the connectivity of subcortical tau epicenters. Together, the current study provides combined in vivo tau-PET and histopathological evidence that brain connectivity is associated with tau deposition patterns in 4-repeat tauopathies.