Esophageal Lewy bodies associated with ganglion cell loss in achalasia. Similarity to Parkinson's disease

Gastroenterology. 1984 Oct;87(4):848-56.


Achalasia and Parkinson's disease sometimes have similar clinical and neuropathologic features, including loss of esophageal peristalsis and neuronal loss within brainstem nuclei. We compared the neuropathologic features in autopsies of 8 achalasia patients, 22 Parkinson's disease patients (3 patients with dysphagia), and 50 age- and sex-matched controls. Degenerating ganglion cells in the esophageal myenteric plexus in 2 achalasia patients contained Lewy bodies, intracytoplasmic inclusions characteristically found in the brainstem in Parkinson's disease. Esophageal or colonic Lewy bodies were also found in 2 Parkinson's disease patients with dysphagia. No gastrointestinal tract Lewy bodies were identified in Parkinson's disease patients without dysphagia or in controls. One achalasia patient with esophageal Lewy bodies also had the inclusions and neuronal depigmentation in the vagal dorsal motor nucleus and substantia nigra, as seen in Parkinson's disease. Our findings indicate that a subset of achalasia and Parkinson's disease patients with dysphagia may have similar mechanisms of neuronal degeneration responsible for esophageal dysfunction.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Deglutition Disorders / etiology
  • Deglutition Disorders / pathology
  • Esophageal Achalasia / complications
  • Esophageal Achalasia / pathology*
  • Esophagus / innervation*
  • Female
  • Ganglia / ultrastructure
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Inclusion Bodies / ultrastructure*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Myenteric Plexus / ultrastructure*
  • Parkinson Disease / complications
  • Parkinson Disease / pathology*