Investigators reported the discovery of a new gene that is associated with susceptibility to a common form of brain pathology called Tau that accumulates in several different conditions, including Alzheimer’s disease, certain forms of dementia and Parkinsonian syndromes as well as chronic traumatic encephalopathy that occurs with repeated head injuries.

Published in Molecular Psychiatry, the manuscript describes the identification and validation of a genetic variant within the protein tyrosine phosphatase receptor-type delta (PTPRD) gene.

Using autopsies from 909 individuals participating in studies of aging, the team of investigators assessed the human genome for evidence that a genetic variant could affect the neurofibrillary tangle (NFT), aggregates of the hyperphosphorylated tau protein and one of the most common forms of pathology in the aging brain. The researchers found that a variant of the PTPRD gene – which is very common – contributes to the accumulation of NFT.

The researchers say that their study, taken together with previous studies in mice and flies showing a link between PTPRD and Tau pathology, suggests that altering the level of PTPRD could be an intriguing new candidate that deserves further evaluation in the search for disease therapies.

Paper: “Susceptibility to neurofibrillary tangles: role of the PTPRD locus and limited pleiotropy with other neuropathologies”
Reprinted from materials provided by Rush University Medical Center.