Atrophy associated with tau pathology precedes overt cell death in a mouse model of progressive tauopathy

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Science Advances  16 Oct 2020:
Vol. 6, no. 42, eabc8098
DOI: 10.1126/sciadv.abc8098


Tau pathology in Alzheimer’s disease (AD) first develops in the entorhinal cortex (EC), then spreads to the hippocampus, followed by the neocortex. Overall, tau pathology correlates well with neurodegeneration and cell loss, but the spatial and temporal association between tau pathology and overt volume loss (atrophy) associated with structural changes or cell loss is unclear. Using in vivo magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) with tensor-based morphometry (TBM), we mapped the spatiotemporal pattern of structural changes in a mouse model of AD-like progressive tauopathy. A novel, coregistered in vivo MRI atlas was then applied to identify regions in the medial temporal lobe that had a significant volume reduction. Our study shows that in a mouse model of tauopathy spread, the propagation of tau pathology from the EC to the hippocampus is associated with TBM-related atrophy, but atrophy in the dentate gyrus and subiculum precedes overt cell loss.

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