To test the hypothesis that the distribution of the pathology in variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD) represents haematogenous spread of the disease, we studied the spatial correlation between the vacuolation, prion protein (PrP) deposits, and the blood vessel profiles in the cerebral cortex, hippocampus, dentate gyrus, and cerebellum of 11 cases of the disease. In the majority of areas, there were no significant spatial correlations between either the vacuolation or the diffuse type of PrP deposit and the blood vessels. By contrast, a consistent pattern of spatial correlation was observed between the florid PrP deposits and blood vessels mainly in the cerebral cortex. The frequency of positive spatial correlations was similar in different anatomical areas of the cerebral cortex and in the upper compared with the lower laminae. Hence, with the exception of the florid deposits, the data do not demonstrate a spatial relationship between the pathological features of vCJD and blood vessels. The spatial correlation of the florid deposits and blood vessels may be attributable to factors associated with the blood vessels that promote the aggregation of PrP to form a condensed core rather than reflecting the haematogenous spread of the disease. © 2003 Elsevier Ireland Ltd. All rights reserved.
- blood vessels
- prion protein deposits
- variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease