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315 - Prevalence and clinical associations of tau in Lewy body dementias: a systematic review and meta-analysis

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  04 November 2020

Kai Sin Chin
Nawaf Yassi
Leonid Churilov
Colin L Masters
Rosie Watson
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Neurofibrillary tangles (NFT) formed by tau proteins, a pathological hallmark of Alzheimer’s disease, are a common co-pathology in people with Lewy body dementias, which include dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) and Parkinson’s disease dementia (PDD).


To investigate the prevalence of tau in Lewy body dementia, and its association with clinical outcomes.


A systematic search was conducted on Medline, Embase and PubMed using the search term: (“dementia with Lewy bodies” OR “diffuse Lewy body disease”) AND (“tau protein” OR “tauopathy” OR “neurofibrillary tangle”). A total of 42 articles met the inclusion criteria for data extraction. Random-effect meta-analyses were performed to obtain pooled estimates for prevalence, and risk ratios (RR) or standardised mean difference (SMD) for clinical outcomes measures.


Braak NFT stage ≥III was observed in 67% (n=1399, 95%CI 59%-76%) of DLB and 52% (n=429, 95%CI 26%-78%) of PDD at autopsy. Abnormal CSF phosphorylated-tau levels were present in 27% (n=705, 95%CI 23%-30%) of DLB and 15% (n=172, 95%CI 5%-24%) of PDD cases. Higher tau burden in DLB was associated with reduced likelihood of manifesting visual hallucinations (RR 0.56; 95%CI 0.40-0.77) and motor parkinsonism (RR 0.62; 95%CI 0.40-0.98), lower diagnostic accuracy of DLB during life (RR 0.49; 95%CI 0.38-0.64) and worse cognition prior to death (SMD 0.60; 95%CI 0.44-0.76).


Tau is more common in DLB than PDD and may negatively impact clinical diagnostic accuracy in people with DLB. Prospective longitudinal studies are needed to understand the roles of co-morbid neuropathologies in Lewy body dementias.

© International Psychogeriatric Association 2020