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PLoS One. 2012;7(6):e38884. doi: 10.1371/journal.pone.0038884. Epub 2012 Jun 18.

Racial and ethnic differences in individuals with sporadic Creutzfeldt-jakob disease in the United States of America.

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  • 1Lou Ruvo Center for Brain Health, Department of Psychiatry and Psychology, Neurological Institute, Cleveland Clinic Foundation, Cleveland, USA.



Little is known about racial and ethnic differences in individuals with sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (sCJD). The authors sought to examine potential clinical, diagnostic, genetic, and neuropathological differences in sCJD patients of different races/ethnicities.


A retrospective study of 116 definite and probable sCJD cases from Johns Hopkins and the Department of Veterans Affairs Healthcare Systems was conducted that examined differences in demographic, clinical, diagnostic, genetic, and neuropathological characteristics among racial/ethnic groups. Age at disease onset differed among racial/ethnic groups. Non-Hispanic Whites had a significantly older age at disease onset compared to the other groups (65 vs. 60, p = 0.036). Non-Whites were accurately diagnosed more rapidly than Whites (p = 0.008) and non-Hispanic Whites were more likely to have normal appearing basal ganglia on brain magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) compared to minorities (p = 0.02). Whites were also more likely to undergo post-mortem evaluation compared to non-Whites (p = 0.02).


Racial/ethnic groups affected by sCJD demonstrated differences in age at disease onset, time to correct diagnosis, clinical presentation, and diagnostic test results. Whites were more likely to undergo autopsy compared to non-Whites. These results have implications in regards to case ascertainment, diagnosis, and surveillance of sCJD and possibly other human prion diseases.

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