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J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2002 Nov;61(11):935-46.

Office of Rare Diseases neuropathologic criteria for corticobasal degeneration.

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  • 1Mayo Clinic, Jacksonville, Florida 32224, USA.


A working group supported by the Office of Rare Diseases of the National Institutes of Health formulated neuropathologic criteria for corticobasal degeneration (CBD) that were subsequently validated by an independent group of neuropathologists. The criteria do not require a specific clinical phenotype, since CBD can have diverse clinical presentations, such as progressive asymmetrical rigidity and apraxia, progressive aphasia, or frontal lobe dementia. Cortical atrophy, ballooned neurons, and degeneration of the substantia nigra have been emphasized in previous descriptions and are present in CBD, but the present criteria emphasize tau-immunoreactive lesions in neurons, glia, and cell processes in the neuropathologic diagnosis of CBD. The minimal pathologic features for CBD are cortical and striatal tau-positive neuronal and glial lesions, especially astrocytic plaques and thread-like lesions in both white matter and gray matter, along with neuronal loss in focal cortical regions and in the substantia nigra. The methods required to make this diagnosis include histologic stains to assess neuronal loss, spongiosis and ballooned neurons, and a method to detect tau-positive neuronal and glial lesions. Use of either the Gallyas silver staining method or immunostains with sensitive tau antibodies is acceptable. In cases where ballooned neurons are sparse or difficult to detect, immunostaining for phospho-neurofilament or alpha-B-crystallin may prove helpful. Methods to assess Alzheimer-type pathology and Lewy body pathology are necessary to rule out other causes of dementia and Parkinsonism. Using these criteria provides good differentiation of CBD from other tauopathies, except frontotemporal dementia and Parkinsonism linked to chromosome 17, where additional clinical or molecular genetic information is required to make an accurate diagnosis.

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