Progressive supranuclear palsy: current approach and challenges to diagnosis and treatment

Congratulations to Dr. Nikolaus McFarland on the publication of “Progressive supranuclear palsy: current approach and challenges to diagnosis and treatment,” which appears in the June issue of Current Opinion in Neurology.



Purpose of review

Since the original description of progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP) by Steele, Richardson and Olszewski, the clinical spectrum of PSP has expanded and now includes multiple phenotypic variants linked by a common disease. In this review, we discuss the evolution of the PSP syndrome and clinical criteria, with a particular focus on the 2017 Movement Disorders Society PSP criteria, its application and limitations. We also discuss our current approach to diagnosis and treatment.

Recent findings

There is a significant overlap between the different variants of PSP and multiple phenotypes that may be applied to the same patient simultaneously. Variant severity and predominance also evolve throughout the course of the disease. Each variant and level of certainty is associated with different specificity and sensitivity for underlying disease. The differential diagnosis of PSP is continuously evolving and includes other tauopathies, neurodegenerative, genetic, autoimmune and infectious disorders. MRI measurements can aid in the diagnosis. The first guidelines to help with clinical management of those patients have been recently published.


Although much improved, clinical PSP criteria alone remain insufficient and emphasize the need for improved biomarkers to identify patients at early stages to direct appropriate therapeutic strategies and target potential research.