Corticobasal degeneration

W R Gibb, P J Luthert, C D Marsden
Brain 1989, 112 ( Pt 5): 1171-92
Three patients with clinical and pathological features of corticobasal degeneration are described. They presented with a progressive disease bearing some clinical resemblance to Steele-Richardson-Olszewski syndrome and displaying some pathological features of Pick's disease. Their illness began at the age of 59 to 66 yrs with focal dystonia and myoclonus of an arm, the 'alien hand' sign, or an akinetic-rigid syndrome. They developed a supranuclear gaze palsy, parkinsonian features and mild cerebellar signs. Two patients showed constructional dyspraxia when using the arms. The duration of disease to death was 4 to 6 yrs. Pathological examination showed frontoparietal atrophy with cortical cell loss, gliosis and Pick cells, but there was no significant hippocampal disease or Pick bodies in this region. There was nerve cell loss and gliosis in the thalamus, lentiform nucleus, subthalamic nucleus, red nucleus, midbrain tegmentum, substantia nigra and locus coeruleus. Neuronal inclusions in the substantia nigra, termed corticobasal inclusions, were reminiscent of the globose neurofibrillary tangle of Steele-Richardson-Olszewski syndrome, and other pale inclusions resembled the pale body of Parkinson's disease, but Lewy bodies and neurofibrillary tangles were generally absent. Some nigral inclusions were similar to those in Pick's disease. Despite some pathological similarities to Pick's disease we suggest that the distribution of nerve cell loss and the corticobasal inclusion are unique to corticobasal degeneration.

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