Substantia Nigra decreased pigmentation in Parkinson Disease

The substantia nigra (literal translation: “black substance”) is a portion of the midbrain that contains pigmented dopamine-producing neurons.  Degeneration of these cells causes relative depigmentation the substantia nigra, representing a finding that is typical of Parkinson Disease, but may also be present in other neurodegenerative disorders such as Alzheimer Disease. Shown here is the basal... Continue Reading →

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Globose Neurofibrillary Tangle

Neurodegenerative diseases commonly have abnormal protein inclusions that ultimately contribute to neuron death.  One such example is abnormally hyperphosphorylated tau protein, the major component of neurofibrillary tangles (NFTs), which are a key microscopic feature of Alzheimer Disease and lesser known neurodegenerative diseases, such as Frontotemporal Lobar Degeneration (FTLD).  Like water in a vase, an NFT will assume the shape of the cell in which it arises.  For example, the classic... Continue Reading →

Cortical Atrophy in an Elderly Person (90 years old)

A normal adult loses about 0.2% of brain volume every year after middle age.  Compared to young and middle-aged adults, the brains of the elderly have comparatively widened sulci, narrowed gyri, a thin cortical ribbon, and enlarged ventricles due to progressive brain volume loss, which, clinically, may contribute slower processing speed for cognitive tasks and other changes.  Microglia-mediated synaptic pruning and other etiologies for decreasing cortical volume in the... Continue Reading →

Lewy Body

Parkinson’s Disease is a neurodegenerative disease associated with the presence of abnormal pink-purple inclusions, called Lewy bodies, which contain alpha-synuclein protein and are commonly found in pigmented neurons (shown here).

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