Unraveling the Enigma of Pick’s Disease: 15 Essential Facts

Introduction: Understanding the Basics of Pick’s Disease

Unraveling the Enigma of Pick's Disease 15 Essential Facts


Frontotemporal dementia, specifically its behavioral variant (bvFTD), often known as Pick’s disease, is a rare and severe neurodegenerative disorder. Originating in the frontal and temporal lobes of the brain – regions essential for decision-making, behavior control, language, and emotional responses – this disease impairs the normal functioning of these areas.


Named after Arnold Pick, the German neurologist who discovered it in 1892, Pick’s disease initially starts subtly but gradually intensifies over time. It interferes with the patient’s cognitive abilities, personality traits, and overall behavior.

Fact 1: The Elusive Nature of Pick’s Disease

Fact 1: The Elusive Nature of Pick's Disease

One of the most defining characteristics of Pick’s disease is its elusive nature, particularly highlighted by the presence of Pick bodies, abnormal structures found within nerve cells in the brain. These unusual accumulations of the tau protein, named after Arnold Pick who discovered them, set Pick’s disease apart from other forms of frontotemporal dementia (FTD).

The tau protein ordinarily contributes to the structural integrity of nerve cells. It ensures the cells maintain their shape and aids the transport of nutrients, which is essential for cell survival. However, in Pick’s disease, this protein misbehaves, aggregating into clusters to form Pick bodies and contributing to the degeneration of brain cells.

Notably, this buildup of tau protein disrupts the normal functioning of nerve cells. With the protein clumping together, communication pathways between nerve cells are hampered. The breakdown in these communication lines leads to progressive neuronal death, primarily in the frontal and temporal regions of the brain, impairing functions such as speech, emotion, and behavior control.

This is significant because, while other forms of FTD also exhibit protein aggregation, they often involve a different protein, TDP-43. It is the specific presence of tau protein in Pick bodies that makes Pick’s disease unique. This understanding has revolutionized diagnostic procedures, with a focus on identifying tau inclusions during brain scans or autopsies to confirm a Pick’s disease diagnosis. (1)

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