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Neuropathologic Evidence that the Lewy Body Variant of Alzheimer Disease Represents Coexistence of Alzheimer Disease and Idiopathic Parkinson Disease

D. F. Brown MD, M. A. Dababo MD, E. H. Bigio MD, R. C. Risser MS, K. P. Eagan MS, C. L. Hladik, C. L. White III MD
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1097/00005072-199801000-00006 39-46 First published online: 1 January 1998

Abstract

We undertook this study to investigate the neuropathologic relationships among Alzheimer disease (AD), idiopathic Parkinson disease (PD), and the Lewy body variant of AD (AD/LBV). We retrieved 30 autopsy cases in which Lewy bodies (LB) had been identified in the substantia nigra (SN) in routine hematoxylin-eosin-stained sections. Twenty-two of the cases had a primary clinical diagnosis of dementia and neuropathologic changes of AD; 12 of these demented patients also had clinical parkinsonism. Eight cases had clinical and neuropathologic evidence of PD with minimal or no AD neuropathology, though 6 had clinical dementia. Controls consisted of 6 cases of AD without SN LB by hematoxylin-eosin, and 5 neurologically normal aged controls. Paraffin sections of SN, superior temporal gyrus, and cingulate gyrus from each case were immunostained with rabbit anti-ubiquitin antiserum, randomized, and analyzed individually by light microscopy, and the density of LB-like profiles in each section were graded. None of 5 nondemented aged controls showed any neocortical LB, even though 2 had significant numbers of incidental SN LB by ubiquitin immunostaining. Of 6 AD cases without SN LB by hematoxylin-eosin, 3 had rare SN LB on ubiquitin stain, 1 of which showed rare neocortical Lewy-like profiles. Seven of 8 PD cases showed neocortical LB, including the 6 with dementia. Twenty-one of 22 AD cases with SN LB showed ubiquitin-immunoreactive Lewy-like bodies in the neocortex that were statistically significantly greater in number than in either pure PD or pure AD cases. The frequent occurrence of LB in the neocortex in PD alone suggests that AD/LBV likely represents mixed AD/PD. However, AD neuropathology may favor or promote the formation of neocortical LB in patients who go on to develop mixed AD/PD pathology.

Key Words
  • Alzheimer disease
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Lewy body disease
  • Parkinson disease
  • Ubiquitin