Changes to the lateral geniculate nucleus in Alzheimer's disease but not dementia with Lewy bodies

Daniel Erskine, John Paul Taylor, Michael J. Firbank, Lina Patterson, Marco Onofrj, John T. O'Brien, Ian G. Mckeith, Johannes Attems, Alan J. Thomas, Chris M. Morris, Ahmad Khundakar

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Abstract

Aims: Complex visual hallucinations occur in 70% of dementia with Lewy bodies (DLB) cases and significantly affect patient well-being. Visuo-cortical and retinal abnormalities have been recorded in DLB and may play a role in visual hallucinations. The present study aimed to investigate the lateral geniculate nucleus (LGN), a visual relay centre between the retina and visual cortex, to see if changes to this structure underlie visual hallucinations in DLB. Methods: Fifty-one [17 probable DLB, 19 control and 15 probable Alzheimer's disease (AD)] cases were recruited for a functional magnetic resonance imaging study, in which patients' response to a flashing checkerboard stimulus was detected and measured in the LGN, before comparison across experimental groups. Additionally, post mortemLGN tissue was acquired for a cross-sectional study using 20 (six DLB, seven control and seven AD) cases and analysed using stereology. α-Synuclein, phosphorylated tau and amyloid-β pathology was also assessed in all cases. Results: DLB cases did not significantly differ from controls on neuroimaging, morphometry or pathology. However, a significant increase in amyloid-β pathology, a reduction in number of parvocellular neurones and magnocellular gliosis was found in AD cases compared with control and DLB cases. Conclusions: These findings suggest that the early visual system is relatively spared in DLB, which implies that upstream visual structures may be largely responsible for the generation of hallucinatory percepts. The significance of the degeneration of the LGN in AD cases is uncertain.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)366-376
Number of pages11
JournalNeuropathology and Applied Neurobiology
Volume42
Issue number4
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jun 2016

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Erskine, D., Taylor, J. P., Firbank, M. J., Patterson, L., Onofrj, M., O'Brien, J. T., Mckeith, I. G., Attems, J., Thomas, A. J., Morris, C. M., & Khundakar, A. (2016). Changes to the lateral geniculate nucleus in Alzheimer's disease but not dementia with Lewy bodies. Neuropathology and Applied Neurobiology, 42(4), 366-376. https://doi.org/10.1111/nan.12249