Clinical and neuropathologic features of progressive supranuclear palsy with severe pallido-nigro-luysial degeneration and axonal dystrophy

Brain. 2008 Feb;131(Pt 2):460-72. doi: 10.1093/brain/awm301. Epub 2007 Dec 24.


Pallido-nigro-luysial atrophy (PNLA) is a rare disorder that in many cases has histopathological features similar to progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP). In a pathological series of over 400 cases of PSP, eight cases were noted to have features similar to those described in PNLA, including severe atrophy and neuronal loss in the globus pallidus, substantia nigra and subthalamic nucleus, in addition to many axonal spheroids in the globus pallidus and substantia nigra. These eight cases of PSP-PNLA were compared to 11 typical PSP cases with quantitative neuropathologic indices and assessment of demographics, clinical features and the timing of clinical features. PSP-PNLA cases were younger, had longer disease duration and more often were not initially diagnosed with PSP; in the end, they did not differ from PSP with respect to any major clinical feature. The clinical course of PSP-PNLA, however, was different, with earlier gait abnormalities and difficulty with handwriting, but later falls, rigidity and dysphagia than PSP. Pathologically, the same types of lesions were detected in both PSP and PSP-PNLA, but there were differences in the distribution and density of tau-pathology, with less tau-pathology in motor cortex, striatum, pontine nuclei and cerebellum in PSP-PNLA. These clinical and pathological findings suggest that PSP-PNLA should be considered a variant of PSP.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Aged
  • Atrophy / complications
  • Atrophy / diagnosis
  • Atrophy / pathology
  • Axons / pathology*
  • Brain / pathology*
  • Cognition Disorders / etiology
  • Disease Progression
  • Female
  • Gait Disorders, Neurologic / etiology
  • Globus Pallidus / pathology
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Severity of Illness Index
  • Substantia Nigra / pathology
  • Subthalamic Nucleus / pathology
  • Supranuclear Palsy, Progressive / complications
  • Supranuclear Palsy, Progressive / diagnosis*
  • Supranuclear Palsy, Progressive / metabolism
  • Supranuclear Palsy, Progressive / pathology
  • Vision Disorders / etiology
  • tau Proteins / analysis


  • tau Proteins