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The brainstem pathologies of Parkinson's disease and dementia with Lewy bodies.

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Brain Pathol 2014 Jul;

Authors: Kay Seidel, Josefine Mahlke, Sonny Siswanto, Reijko KrŁger, Helmut Heinsen, Georg Auburger, Mohamed Bouzrou, Lt Grinberg, Helmut Wicht, Horst-Werner Korf, Wilfred den Dunnen, Udo RŁb

Parkinson's disease (PD) and dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) are among the human synucleinopathies, which share the neuropathological features of alpha-synuclein immunoreactive neuronal and/or glial aggregations, as well as progressive neuronal loss in select brain regions (e.g. dopaminergic substantia nigra and ventral tegmental area, cholinergic pedunculopontine nucleus). Despite a number of studies about brainstem pathologies in PD and DLB, there is currently no detailed information available regarding the presence of alpha-synuclein immunoreactive inclusions (a) in the cranial nerve, precerebellar, vestibular and oculomotor brainstem nuclei and (b) in brainstem fiber tracts and oligodendroctyes. Therefore, we performed a detailed analysis of the alpha-synuclein immunoreactive inclusion pathologies in the brainstem nuclei (Lewy bodies, LB; Lewy neurites, LN; coiled bodies, CB) and fiber tracts (LN, CB) of clinically diagnosed and neuropathologically confirmed PD and DLB patients. As also reported in previous studies, LB and LN were most prevalent in the substantia nigra, ventral tegmental area, pedunculopontine and raphe nuclei, periaqueductal gray, locus coeruleus, parabrachial nuclei, reticular formation, prepositus hypoglossal, dorsal motor vagal, and solitary nuclei. However, we for the first time demonstrated LB and LN in all cranial nerve nuclei, premotor oculomotor, precerebellar and vestibular brainstem nuclei, as well as LN in all brainstem fiber tracts. CB were present in nearly all brainstem nuclei and brainstem fiber tracts containing LB and/or LN. These novel brainstem findings can account for or contribute to a large variety of less well-explained PD and DLB symptoms (e.g. gait and postural instability, impaired balance and postural reflexes, falls, ingestive and oculomotor dysfunctions), and point to the occurrence of disturbances of intra-axonal transport processes and a transneuronal spread of the underlying pathological processes of PD and DLB along anatomical pathways in a prion-like manner.

PMID: 24995389 [PubMed - as supplied by publisher]

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