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In a retrospective study of 4,294 consecutive postmortem cases, there were 15 with histologically proved sarcoidosis, including 4 with CNS involvement. Whereas in previously reported autopsy series the prevalence of neurosarcoidosis was 15%, it is 27% in this review. Five cases with incidental, clinically inapparent sarcoidosis died at a mean age of 54.6 years; those six with systemic sarcoidosis, not involving the CNS, died at a mean age of 47.0 years; while those four with a variety of neurologic manifestations in addition to systemic sarcoidosis died at a mean age of 38.2 years. Thus, it appears that at one end of the spectrum of morbidity, sarcoidosis may cause no or only trivial symptoms and permit prolonged survival. At the other extreme, sarcoidosis may affect a younger population more severely. CNS involvement occurs relatively early in the course and is rather rapidly progressive, accounting for the poor prognosis, despite appropriate medical and neurosurgical management. In its turn, neurosarcoidosis may present with a variety of signs and symptoms, depending on the site of involvement along the craniospinal axis. This feature is illustrated by the manifestations of compression myelopathy, hydrocephalus with dementia, hydrocephalus with seizures and ataxia, and anosmia, blindness, seizures, and diabetes insipidus. In addition, one patient developed a Nocardia brain abscess as a complication of the altered immune system in sarcoidosis.
To define the pathology in cases of non-Alzheimer primary degenerative dementia (non-AD PDD), we have studied autopsies from four medical centres accessioned in consecutive years since 1976. Neurochemical studies of the basal forebrain-cortical (BF-C) cholinergic system have been conducted in cases from which frozen tissue was available. Twenty-two cases (mean age 70 years, range 47-86) in which the history was consistent with PDD, but which did not meet anatomic criteria for AD, were selected. Approximately 70 cases of PDD, which were accessioned in the same years and met the anatomic criteria for AD, were excluded. The pathologic findings permitted a classification into six groups: Lewy body disease (LBD), 4 cases; Pick's disease, 6 cases; cortical degeneration with motor neuron disease (CDmnd), 2 cases; hippocampal and temporal lobe sclerosis, 3 cases; few or nonspecific abnormalities, 5 cases; other disorders, 2 cases. Our findings suggest that LBD and Pick's disease account for a large proportion of cases of non-AD PDD in the presenile age group, but that a large number of other disorders occasionally present as PDD. Careful examination of the motor systems, as well as cerebral structures relate' to cognitive function, is important in the neuropathologic evaluation. Lesions of the BF-C cholinergic system have been most consistent and severe in LBD, and have not been identified in CDmnd.
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