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Acta Neuropathol. 2010 Jun;119(6):703-13. doi: 10.1007/s00401-010-0665-2. Epub 2010 Mar 14.

Lewy pathology in the submandibular gland of individuals with incidental Lewy body disease and sporadic Parkinson's disease.

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Clinical Neuroanatomy, Center for Clinical Research, Department of Neurology, University of Ulm, Helmholtzstrasse 8/1, 89081 Ulm, Germany.


A retrospective autopsy-based study of the human submandibular gland, one of the three major salivary glands, together with anatomically related peripheral structures (cervical superior ganglion, cervical sympathetic trunk, vagal nerve at the level of the carotid bifurcation), was conducted on a cohort consisting of 33 individuals, including 9 patients with neuropathologically confirmed Parkinson's disease (PD), three individuals with incidental Lewy body disease (iLBD), 2 individuals with neuropathologically confirmed multiple system atrophy (MSA), and 19 controls, using alpha-synuclein immunohistochemistry in 100 mum polyethylene glycol-embedded tissue sections. Lewy pathology (LP) was present in the submandibular glands and cervical superior ganglia in PD (9/9 cases) and iLBD (2/3 cases) but not in MSA or controls. The cervical sympathetic trunk (7/9 PD cases, 2/3 iLBD cases) and peripheral vagal nerves (9/9 PD cases, 2/3 iLBD cases) also displayed LP. The results are discussed within the context of hyposmia as well as autonomic dysfunction in PD (sialorrhea, sialopenia, dysphagia). Potential disease-related changes in salivary volume, contents, and viscosity might make it possible, in combination with other tests, to employ human saliva as a biomarker.

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