Photomicrographs of regions of substantia nigra in this Parkinson's patient show Lewy bodies and Lewy neurites in various magnifications. Top panels show a 60-times magnification of the alpha-synuclein intraneuronal inclusions aggregated to form Lewy bodies. The bottom panels are 20x magnification images that show strand-like Lewy neurites and rounded Lewy bodies of various sizes. Neuromelanin-laden cells of the substantia nigra are visible in the background. Stains used: mouse monoclonal alpha-synuclein antibody; counterstained with Mayer's haematoxylin
Lewy bodies appear as spherical masses that displace other cell components. The two morphological types are classical (brain stem) Lewy bodies and cortical Lewy bodies. A classical Lewy body is an eosinophiliccytoplasmic inclusion consisting of a dense core surrounded by a halo of 10-nm-wide radiating fibrils, the primary structural component of which is alpha-synuclein. In contrast, a cortical Lewy body is less well defined and lacks the halo. Nonetheless, it is still made up of alpha-synuclein fibrils. Cortical Lewy bodies are a distinguishing feature of dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB), but may occasionally be seen in ballooned neurons characteristic of Pick's disease and corticobasal degeneration, as well as in patients with other tauopathies. They are also seen in cases of multiple system atrophy, particularly the Parkinsonian variant.
Photomicrograph of the dorsal motor nucleus of the vagus nerve (DmX) in a transverse section along the upper medulla shown to be affected by the abnormally deposited alpha synuclein as part of intraneuronal Lewy bodies found (extreme right): DmX is one of the earliest sites affected by synuclein deposition in Parkinson's disease.
Comedian and actor Robin Williams was found to suffer from dementia with Lewy bodies in addition to Parkinson's disease. Actress Estelle Getty and music industry icon Casey Kasem also suffered from dementia with Lewy bodies.
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