The population of neurons and the neuronal size in the nucleus basalis of Meynert (nbM) were studied in 20 patients with definite Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD). When compared with a normal control group, the 20 CJD brains showed a significant loss of neurons and reduction of neuronal size, mainly in the middle level of the nbM and mostly affecting the right side. Since these findings show some parallelism with the amount of cortical damage and given the scarce gliosis and spongiosis found in only six of the 20 CJD brains, we postulate that the involvement of the nbM in CJD is a retrograde abnormality secondary to the damage of the neocortex.
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