Neurodegenerative diseases constitute a major public health issue due to an increasingly aged population as a consequence of generally improved medical care and demographic changes. The microtubule-associated protein tau plays a critical role in the pathogenesis of Alzheimer's disease (AD) and several related disorders collectively known as tauopathies.
Development of tau pathology is associated with progressive neuronal loss and cognitive decline. In the brains of AD patients, tau pathology spreads following an anatomically defined pattern. Emerging evidence strongly suggests that accumulation of abnormal tau is mediated through spreading of seeds of the protein from cell to cell, perhaps reminiscent of some features of the prion protein propagation mechanism. That would support the concept that pathology initiates in a very small part of the brain many years before becoming symptomatic, spreading progressively to the whole brain within 15-20 years. Preventing the initial formation of the abnormal tau seeds might block the subsequent invasion of tau aggregates, thus representing a future possible strategy.
This workshop aims to address an emerging area in neurodegenerative diseases research that may reveal novel mechanisms and targets for therapeutic intervention by reviewing in-depth the molecular mechanisms underlying spreading of tau pathology and its functional implications. It will bring together experts using diverse approaches to provide reviews of up-and-coming areas in the tau field and inspire new insights and approaches to the battle against neurodegenerative disease.