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Lewy body prevalence in the aging brain: relationship to neuropsychiatric disorders, Alzheimer-type pathology and catecholaminergic nuclei

Lookup NU author(s): Emeritus Professor Robert Perry


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In a survey to determine the occurrence of Lewy bodies in the elderly, the prevalence rate of Lewy body formation was found to be critically dependent on the psychiatric status of control cases. In 131 controls between 51 and 100 years screened to exclude psychiatric and neurologic disorders, the Lewy body prevalence rate was 2.3%, but inclusion of cases with psychiatric disorders other than Alzheimer's disease increased the prevalence rate to 9%. An age-related decline in substantia nigra and locus coeruleus neuron numbers was observed in the control group. Brain stem Lewy body formation (found in 3 cases) was not necessarily linked with neuron loss in substantia nigra, though in two of the cases significant locus coeruleus neuron loss was observed. Within the control group, there was no obvious relationship of Lewy body formation to the extent of Alzheimer-type pathology. These findings are compatible with the disease specificity of Lewy bodies and suggest that Lewy body disorders have a relatively short preclinical phase in which Lewy body formation may precede both locus coeruleus and substantia nigra neuron loss. The increase of Lewy body positive cases found when individuals with psychiatric disorders are included in the population surveyed supports the emerging concept of a spectrum of Lewy body diseases ranging from purely psychiatric disorders through combined psychoneurological or neuropsychiatric symptoms, to the classically described neurological disorders of Parkinson's disease.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Perry RH, Irving D, Tomlinson BE

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of the Neurological Sciences

Year: 1990

Volume: 100

Issue: 1-2

Pages: 223-233

Print publication date: 01/12/1990

ISSN (print): 0022-510X

ISSN (electronic): 1878-5883

Publisher: Elsevier BV


DOI: 10.1016/0022-510X(90)90037-N


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