Vacuolation ('spongiform change') and prion protein (PrP) deposition were quantified in the cerebral cortex, hippocampus, dentate gyrus and molecular layer of the cerebellum in 11 cases of variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (vCJD). The density of vacuoles was greater in the cerebral cortex compared to the hippocampus, dentate gyrus and cerebellum. Within the cortex, vacuole density was significantly greater in the occipital compared to the temporal lobe and the density of surviving neurones was greatest in the occipital lobe. The density of the non-florid PrP plaques was greater in the cerebellum compared to the other brain areas. There were significantly more florid-type PrP plaques in the cerebral cortex compared to the hippocampus and the molecular layer of the cerebellum. No significant correlations were observed between the densities of the vacuoles and the PrP plaques. The densities of vacuoles in the parietal cortex and the non-florid plaques in the frontal cortex were positively correlated with the density of surviving neurones. The densities of the florid and the non-florid plaques were positively correlated in the parietal cortex, occipital cortex, inferior temporal gyrus and dentate gyrus. The data suggest: (i) vacuolation throughout the cerebral cortex, especially in the occipital lobe, but less evident in the hippocampus and molecular layer of the cerebellum; (ii) the non-florid plaques are more common than the florid plaques and predominate in the molecular layer of the cerebellum; and (iii) either the florid plaques develop from the non-florid plaques or both types are morphological variants resulting from the same degenerative process.
- cerebral cortex
- florid deposits
- prion protein
- PrP deposits
- Variant Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease