The spatial pattern of the vacuolation ('spongiform change') was studied in the upper and lower laminae of the cerebral cortex, the CA1/CA2 sectors of the hippocampus and the molecular layer of the cerebellum in 11 cases of sporadic Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). Individual vacuoles were grouped into clusters, 50 to >1600 μm in diameter and, in the majority of tissue sections, the vacuole clusters were distributed with regular periodicity parallel to the tissue boundary. The size of the vacuole clusters was positively correlated with patient age in the lower laminae of the occipital cortex and the inferior temporal gyrus (ITG) and negatively correlated with age in the hippocampus. In addition, the size of the vacuole clusters was positively correlated with disease duration in the upper laminae of the ITG. The size and distribution of the vacuole clusters suggests that the vacuolation in CJD reflects the degeneration of specific brain pathways and supports the hypothesis that prion pathology may spread through the brain along well defined anatomical pathways. (C) 2000 Elsevier Science Ireland Ltd.
- cerebral cortex
- Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease