Progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) is a rare brain disorder that affects almost every aspect of a person's function. It can impair thinking, speech, general communication, and physical movement. The exact cause of PSP is not currently known, but there are several theories. There are also specific risk factors that can cause an individual to have a higher chance of developing progressive supranuclear palsy. Progressive supranuclear palsy often presents with similar symptoms to Parkinson's disease, but there are differences between the two. For one, PSP is caused by a different neurological process than Parkinson's. However, initial misdiagnosis of progressive supranuclear palsy as Parkinson's is frequent, especially given how much more widespread Parkinson's disease is. These are the main risk factors, potential causes, and complications of progressive supranuclear palsy.
Abnormal Amounts of Tau
The main defining factor of progressive supranuclear palsy is an accumulation of abnormal amounts of tau, a protein that occurs naturally within the brain. However, in PSP, the ability to process the protein properly erodes, causing an excess to build up. These protein deposits affect the brain's nerve cells, interrupting and damaging them.
Tau is a key cause of other disorders as well. The group of tau-related disorders is called tauopathies. Other diseases and disorders related to tau accumulation are certain types of frontotemporal degeneration, corticobasal generation, and Alzheimer's disease. To treat the disease itself, scientists would need to find a way to keep tau from clumping harmfully. Right now, there is no treatment for PSP itself, but there are treatments and ways of managing the symptoms as they progress.
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