Tau is a small protein with a short name but a large reputation because of its association with multiple brain diseases, including Alzheimer’s disease (AD). The tau protein is predominantly found in brain cells (neurons).

The normal tau protein forms part of a structure called a microtubule. One of the functions of the microtubule is to help transport nutrients and other important substances from one part of the nerve cell to another.  

Tau is abundant inside neurons. Tau proteins in the brains of people with AD go through a molecular change that causes them to misshape and collect in messy tangles.


Role of Tau

Tau tangles typically are a sign that Alzheimer’s disease (AD) is rapidly getting worse. Current theories hold that amyloid-beta and tau interact in ways to make the disease progress, and scientists are investigating how tau may be involved in spreading AD throughout the brain.