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J Neural Transm Suppl. 1995;46:15-31.

Nigral and extranigral pathology in Parkinson's disease.

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Department of Anatomy, J. W. Goethe Universit├Ąt, Frankfurt/Main, Federal Republic of Germany.


This article reviews data on the internal organization, neuronal types, and interconnections of limbic and motor components of the human brain, and the specific lesions which a few of them undergo during the course of Parkinson's disease (neuronal loss associated with the development of Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites). The severe involvement of nigral neuromelanin-laden projection cells has received particular attention during the past decades. This lesion interferes with normal function of the striatum and probably contributes to many of the motor dysfunctions characteristically occurring in Parkinson's disease. The similarly severe involvement of several areas and nuclei outside of the substantia nigra has often escaped notice. However, the pathology of Parkinson's disease cannot be completely described unless changes in these extranigral areas are taken into account. Interpretation of the characteristic lesional pattern is facilitated by combining schemata of both the limbic and motor systems. This approach reveals a key role by the amygdala and related structures in extranigral pathology. Severe lesions occur in the central amygdaloid nucleus, in nuclei projecting to the cerebral cortex in a non-specific manner, and in nuclei regulating endocrine and autonomic functions. It is suggested that extranigral lesions contribute to the development of behavioral changes and autonomic dysfunction.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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