We conducted cognitive, imaging, and neuropathological studies on a patient with Pick's disease. The patient was impaired at interpreting sentences with complex grammatical constructions, differing significantly from control subjects and patients with Alzheimer's disease (AD). Evaluation of regional brain functioning at rest, with positron emission tomography, revealed reduced left frontal activity compared with control subjects and AD patients. Autopsy demonstrated the classic pathology of Pick's disease, including massive neuron loss and gliosis in the frontal and cingulate cortex as well as numerous tau-positive hippocampal Pick bodies. The abnormal tau proteins were phosphorylated at the same amino acid residues as AD paired helical filament tau (PHFtau), but they exhibited a unique migration profile on western blot. Our observations support the hypothesis that a distinct variety of hyperphosphorylated tau in Pick's disease compromises the long-term viability of selectively vulnerable populations of neurons in frontal cortices that contribute to sentence processing.
Available at: http://works.bepress.com/brian_balin/44/