What is Pick's Disease?

NewsGuard 100/100 Score

Pick’s disease, also known as Pick disease or PiD, is a rare neurodegenerative disorder involving the progressive destruction of brain cells. It is a type of frontotemporal dementia and is characterized by symptoms of dementia and aphasia.


Pick’s disease occurs due to changes to the neurons in certain areas of the brain. Tau proteins build up in the neurons, leading to the formation of silver, spherical aggregations known as Pick bodies or Pick cells. This protein usually exists in healthy brain cells, but individuals with Pick’s disease have abnormal quantity or type of the protein.

The origin of the abnormalities in the tau protein in not currently known. Several genes have been associated with a higher risk of Pick’s disease and may have an effect on the protein, but the research on this subject is not clear.


Picks disease can affect adults of all ages, with reported cases as young as twenty. It most commonly presents, however, in patients aged between 40 and 60.

There is a wide range of symptoms associated with the disease, including:

  • Behavior changes: compulsiveness, inappropriateness, withdrawal
  • Emotional changes: mood swings, disinterest, lack of empathy
  • Language changes: aphasia, uncoordinated sounds, inability to write
  • Neurologic changes: difficulty making decisions and with complex tasks

In the early stages of the disease, it can be difficult to distinguish Pick’s disease from Alzheimer’s disease. The main differential sign is memory loss, which occurs earlier in Alzheimer’s disease and slowly progresses in Pick’s disease.

In most cases, the symptoms of the disease steadily get worse as it progresses, and it usually becomes fatal within two to ten years of diagnosis.


Initially, a thorough medical history should be taken, including questions about a family history of Pick’s disease.

The description of signs and symptoms are the most important factors to be considered. Diagnostic testing can then be utilized to differentiate the disease from other conditions with similar symptoms, such as Alzheimers disease.

The following tests may be required in the diagnosis of Pick’s disease:

  • Neuropsychological assessment
  • Magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) of the brain
  • Electroencephalogram (EEG)
  • Neurological exam
  • Cerebrospinal fluid examination
  • Computed tomography (CT) scan of the head
  • Cognitive function tests.

However, final diagnosis can only be confirmed with a brain biopsy that is analyzed for the presence of Pick bodies.


Although there is no cure for Pick’s disease, treatments are available to manage the symptoms of the disease.

It is common for patients to exhibit agitated and aggressive behavior, which can be difficult for carers to handle. Behavior modification by rewarding positive behaviors is sometimes successful and counseling of the patient may be beneficial. However, pharmacological intervention with psychotherapy depressants is often needed to control aggressive behaviors.

It should be noted that stopping or changing the medication regimen regularly is not recommended, as it can lead to increased confusion and worsening of symptoms.

Treatment is highly individualized to meet the needs of the patient. In the vast majority of cases, they will eventually need ongoing 24-hour care to help manage the symptoms and monitor the progression of the disease.


Further Reading

Last Updated: Feb 27, 2019

Yolanda Smith

Written by

Yolanda Smith

Yolanda graduated with a Bachelor of Pharmacy at the University of South Australia and has experience working in both Australia and Italy. She is passionate about how medicine, diet and lifestyle affect our health and enjoys helping people understand this. In her spare time she loves to explore the world and learn about new cultures and languages.


Please use one of the following formats to cite this article in your essay, paper or report:

  • APA

    Smith, Yolanda. (2019, February 27). What is Pick's Disease?. News-Medical. Retrieved on April 15, 2024 from https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Picks-Disease.aspx.

  • MLA

    Smith, Yolanda. "What is Pick's Disease?". News-Medical. 15 April 2024. <https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Picks-Disease.aspx>.

  • Chicago

    Smith, Yolanda. "What is Pick's Disease?". News-Medical. https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Picks-Disease.aspx. (accessed April 15, 2024).

  • Harvard

    Smith, Yolanda. 2019. What is Pick's Disease?. News-Medical, viewed 15 April 2024, https://www.news-medical.net/health/What-is-Picks-Disease.aspx.


The opinions expressed here are the views of the writer and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of News Medical.
Post a new comment

While we only use edited and approved content for Azthena answers, it may on occasions provide incorrect responses. Please confirm any data provided with the related suppliers or authors. We do not provide medical advice, if you search for medical information you must always consult a medical professional before acting on any information provided.

Your questions, but not your email details will be shared with OpenAI and retained for 30 days in accordance with their privacy principles.

Please do not ask questions that use sensitive or confidential information.

Read the full Terms & Conditions.