Tau phosphorylation in human brain: relationship to behavioral disturbance in dementia.
Guadagna S., Esiri MM., Williams RJ., Francis PT.
Agitation and aggressive behavior are common symptoms of Alzheimer's disease (AD), and tangle density in frontal cortex is a possible regional substrate of these behaviors. To investigate this further, 16 AD patients, 8 patients with non-AD dementia, and 13 age-matched control subjects for frontal cortex and, respectively, 21, 7, and 6 patients for parietal cortex were analyzed for tau and phospho-tau by enzyme-linked immunosorbent assay (ELISA). Agitation/aggression was determined by the Present Behavioural Examination. In a subset of cases, glycogen synthase kinase-3β (GSK-3β) phosphorylation and protein phosphatase 2A (PP2A) expression were measured. Phospho-tau and the phospho-tau/total tau ratio were elevated in AD in both cortical regions. In keeping with our hypothesis, the phospho-tau/total tau ratio was elevated in the frontal cortex of those patients with agitation/aggression during life, and there was a significant correlation (p = 0.024) between these behaviors and the phospho-tau/total tau ratio in the cortex. PP2A expression was lower (p < 0.01) in the frontal cortex of patients with high tau phosphorylation. This study confirms a link between tau phosphorylation and agitation/aggression and suggests that reducing tau phosphorylation may provide symptomatic relief.