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Acta Neuropathol. 1993;86(1):29-35.

The sensory neuropathy of Friedreich's ataxia: an autopsy study of a case with prolonged survival.

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Department of Neurological Science, Royal Free Hospital School of Medicine, London, UK.


Observations have been made on a patient with Friedreich's ataxia who died 52 years after the onset of symptoms. The pathology of the brain and spinal cord was typical of this disorder. Apart from loss of dorsal root ganglion cells, severe loss of secondary sensory neurons was observed, including the nucleus dorsalis in the spinal cord, the spinal and principal trigeminal nuclei and, in particular, the mesencephalic trigeminal nucleus in the brain stem. Morphometric studies on the first sacral nerve root and on the sural nerve at levels from midthigh to ankle revealed a distally accentuated axonal loss that predominantly affected larger myelinated nerve fibres. Regenerative activity was seen, mainly in the spinal root and proximally in the sural nerve. Relative myelin thickness, assessed by a g ratios, tended to be reduced. As teased fibre studies showed only limited evidence of demyelination/remyelination and of axonal regeneration, this therefore suggests the presence of a hypomyelination. The results confirm the presence of a distal axonopathy and provide no evidence that this is preceded by axonal atrophy.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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