The microtubule skeleton plays an essential role in nerve cells as the most important structural determinant of morphology and as a highway for axonal transport processes. Many neurodegenerative diseases are characterized by changes in the structure and organization of microtubules and microtubule-regulating proteins such as the microtubule-associated protein tau, which exhibits characteristic changes in a whole class of diseases collectively referred to as tauopathies. Changes in the dynamics of microtubules appear to occur early under neurodegenerative conditions and are also likely to contribute to age-related dysfunction of neurons. Thus, modulating microtubule dynamics and correcting impaired microtubule stability can be a useful neuroprotective strategy to counteract the disruption of the microtubule system in disease and aging. In this article, we review current microtubule-directed approaches for the treatment of neurodegenerative diseases with microtubules as a drug target, tau as a drug target, and post-translational modifications as potential modifiers of the microtubule system. We discuss limitations of the approaches that can be traced back to the rather unspecific mechanism of action, which causes undesirable side effects in non-neuronal cell types or which are due to the disruption of non-microtubule-related interactions. We also develop some
thoughts on how the specificity of the approaches can be improved and what further targets could be used for modulating substances.