Staging of brain pathology related to sporadic Parkinson's disease

Neurobiol Aging. 2003 Mar-Apr;24(2):197-211. doi: 10.1016/s0197-4580(02)00065-9.


Sporadic Parkinson's disease involves multiple neuronal systems and results from changes developing in a few susceptible types of nerve cells. Essential for neuropathological diagnosis are alpha-synuclein-immunopositive Lewy neurites and Lewy bodies. The pathological process targets specific induction sites: lesions initially occur in the dorsal motor nucleus of the glossopharyngeal and vagal nerves and anterior olfactory nucleus. Thereafter, less vulnerable nuclear grays and cortical areas gradually become affected. The disease process in the brain stem pursues an ascending course with little interindividual variation. The pathology in the anterior olfactory nucleus makes fewer incursions into related areas than that developing in the brain stem. Cortical involvement ensues, beginning with the anteromedial temporal mesocortex. From there, the neocortex succumbs, commencing with high order sensory association and prefrontal areas. First order sensory association/premotor areas and primary sensory/motor fields then follow suit. This study traces the course of the pathology in incidental and symptomatic Parkinson cases proposing a staging procedure based upon the readily recognizable topographical extent of the lesions.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lewy Bodies / pathology
  • Lewy Body Disease / pathology
  • Male
  • Medulla Oblongata / pathology
  • Neocortex / pathology
  • Parkinson Disease / pathology*
  • Temporal Lobe / pathology