Quantification of white matter abnormalities in neurodegenerative disease

Richard A. Armstrong

Research output: Chapter in Book/Published conference outputChapter (peer-reviewed)peer-review


Degeneration of white matter fibre tracts occurs in several neurodegenerative disorders and results in various histological abnormalities including loss of axons, vacuolation, gliosis, axonal varicosities and spheroids, corpora amylacea, extracellular protein deposits, and glial inclusions (GI). This chapter describes quantitative studies that have been carried out on white matter pathology in a variety of neurodegenerative disease. First, in Alzheimer’s disease (AD), axonal loss quantified in histological sections stained with toluidine blue, occurs in several white matter fibre tracts including the optic nerve, olfactory tract, and corpus callosum. Second, in Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD), sections of cerebral cortex stained with haematoxylin and eosin (H/E) or immunolabelled with antibodies against the disease form of prion protein (PrPsc), reveal extensive vacuolation, gliosis of white matter, and deposition of PrPsc deposits. Third, GI immunolabelled with antibodies against various pathological proteins including tau, -synuclein, TDP-43, and FUS, have been recorded in white matter of a number of disorders including frontotemporal lobar degeneration (FTLD), progressive supranuclear palsy (PSP), multiple system atrophy (MSA), and neuronal intermediate filament inclusion disease (NIFID). Axonal varicosities have also been observed in NIFID. There are two important questions regarding white matter pathology that need further investigation: (1) what is the relative importance of white and gray matter pathologies in different disorders and (2) do white matter abnormalities precede or are they the consequence of gray matter pathology?
Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationHorizons in neuroscience research
EditorsAndres Costa, Eugenio Villalba
Place of PublicationHauppauge, New York
PublisherNova science
Number of pages22
ISBN (Electronic)978-1-63483-801-6
ISBN (Print)978-1-63483-784-2
Publication statusPublished - 2015

Publication series

NameHorizons in Neuroscience Research


  • white matter
  • axonal loss
  • vacuolation
  • gliosis
  • glial inclusions (GI)
  • axonal varicosities
  • neurodegnerative disease


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