The neuropathology of 20 German shepherd dogs and five German shepherd dog crosses with chronic degenerative radiculomyelopathy were analysed by conventional techniques, immunocytochemistry and electron microscopy. There were previously unrecognised changes in brain nuclei. In the spinal cord, both motor and sensory tracts were involved, principally in their more distal regions. Wallerian degeneration affected the corticorubrospinal pathways in the lateral columns and the ventral funiculi, predominantly in the caudal thoracic and lumbar segments, although more cranial involvement was also observed. The dorsal columns were affected in the caudal lumbar region and the cervical fasciculus gracilis. The regional distribution was variable between cases. Within the brain, abnormalities, including chromatolysis, gliosis and neuronal loss were observed in the red nucleus, lateral vestibular nucleus and, occasionally, in the dentate nucleus. The changes in brain nuclei were compared with those found in dogs at various times after a focal spinal injury. The neuronal changes in the brain may be related to the primary site of damage, and possible aetiological mechanisms are discussed.
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