Whipple's disease of the central nervous system

Acta Neuropathol. 1976 Sep 15;36(1):31-8. doi: 10.1007/BF00685145.


Whipple's disease presenting as a neurological disease without gastrointestinal symptoms is an unusual occurrence. A 40 year old man suffered hypersomnia, memory loss and progressive ophthalmoplegia for 6 months prior to death. The nature of this disease was not established during life. Extensive granulomatous inflammation affecting the hypothalamus, hippocampus and periaqueductal gray matter of the brain was found to represent Whipple's disease by electron microscopy. Characteristic lesions were also present in spleen, mesenteric lymph nodes, small intestine and myocardium. Bacillary bodies and membranous inclusions similar to those seen in visceral lesions of Whipple's disease were present in macrophages. The findings supported the theory of direct involvement of the central nervous system by bacilli rather than a metabolic origin for the lesions.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain / ultrastructure*
  • Humans
  • Inclusion Bodies / ultrastructure
  • Macrophages / ultrastructure
  • Male
  • Neurologic Manifestations
  • Whipple Disease / microbiology
  • Whipple Disease / pathology*