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Gearing, M., Juncos, J. L., Procaccio, V., Gutekunst, C. A., Marino, E. M., Gyure, K. A., Ono, S., Santoianni, R., Krawiecki, N. S., Wallace, D. C. & Wainer, B. H. (2002) Aggregation of actin and cofilin in identical twins with juvenile-onset dystonia. Ann. Neurol. 52, (in press).


The neuropathology of the primary dystonia is not well understood. We examined brains from identical twins with DYT1-negative, dopa-unresponsive dystonia. The twins exhibited mild developmental delays until age 12 years when they began developing rapidly progressive generalized dystonia. Genetic, metabolic, and imaging studies ruled out known causes of dystonia. Cognition was subnormal but stable until the last few years. Death occured at ages 21 and 22 years. The brains were macroscopically unremarkable. Microscopic examination showed unusual glial fibrillary acidic protein-immunoreactive astrocytes in multiple regions and iron accumulations in pallidal and nigral neurons. However, the most striking findings were 1) eosinophilic, rod-like cytoplasmic inclusion in neocortical and thalamic that were actin depolymerizing factor/cofilin-immunoreactive but only rarely actin-positive; and 2) abundant eosinophilic spherical structures in the striatum that were strongly actin- and actin depolymerizing factor/cofilin-positive. Electron microscopy suggests that these structures represent degenerating neurons and processes; the accumulating filaments had the same dimensions as actin microfilaments. To our knowledge, aggregation of actin has not been reported previously as the predominant feature in any neurodegenerative disease. Thus, our findings may shed light on a novel neuropathological change associated with dystonia that may represent a new degenerative mechanism involving actin, a ubiquitous constituent of the cytskeletal system.
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