Genetic Neuropathology of Parkinson's Disease.
Parkinson's disease (PD) has long been considered to be a sporadic entity, perhaps with an environmental etiology. However, recent genetic discoveries have challenged this view, as there are many families with diseases of Mendelian inheritance that clinically resemble PD. Here, we will review in detail the neuropathological data relating to familial cases of PD. We will discuss the complicated relationships between the genetically defined cases and the two key pathological events seen in PD, namely loss of dopaminergic neurons in the substantia nigra pars compacta and the formation of protein inclusions, Lewy bodies, in the neurons that survive to the end stage of the disease course. These observations will be synthesized into an overall scheme that emphasizes the two key aspects of the neuropathology as distinct events and suggest that each gene tells us something a little different about the neuropathology of PD.