Specific patterns of neuronal loss in the pulvinar nucleus in dementia with lewy bodies

Daniel Erskine, Alan J. Thomas, Johannes Attems, John Paul Taylor, Ian G. McKeith, Christopher M. Morris, Ahmad Khundakar

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    Abstract

    Background: Complex visual hallucinations occur in 70%-80% of dementia with Lewy bodies patients and significantly affect well-being. Despite the prevalence of visual hallucinations in dementia with Lewy bodies, the neuropathological basis of this phenomenon is poorly understood. The pulvinar nucleus of the thalamus has not previously been neuropathologically examined, but has been linked to visual hallucinations in dementia with Lewy bodies. The objective of this study was to investigate whether neuropathological or morphometric changes occur in the pulvinar nucleus in dementia with Lewy bodies cases that may contribute to visual hallucinations. Methods: Postmortem pulvinar tissue was acquired from 8 individuals with dementia with Lewy bodies, 8 with Alzheimer's disease, and 8 control cases and was analyzed using stereological and quantitative neuropathological techniques. Results: Lewy body pathology was present throughout the pulvinar in dementia with Lewy bodies but was most severe in the medial pulvinar. Neuronal loss was found in the lateral pulvinar in dementia with Lewy bodies and Alzheimer's disease but was more severe in dementia with Lewy bodies. Conclusions: The pulvinar has an important role in visual attention, visual target selection and affective visual perception. These functions are thought to be deficient in dementia with Lewy bodies and may contribute a vulnerability to visual hallucinations. Therefore, this study has demonstrated neuropathological changes that may promote the manifestation of visual hallucinations in dementia with Lewy bodies.

    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)414-422
    Number of pages9
    JournalMovement Disorders
    Volume32
    Issue number3
    Early online date6 Jan 2017
    DOIs
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Mar 2017

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    Erskine, D., Thomas, A. J., Attems, J., Taylor, J. P., McKeith, I. G., Morris, C. M., & Khundakar, A. (2017). Specific patterns of neuronal loss in the pulvinar nucleus in dementia with lewy bodies. Movement Disorders, 32(3), 414-422. https://doi.org/10.1002/mds.26887