Are CJD and Alzheimer's disease the same

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease appears as very rapidly (6-12 months) progressive dementia, which is typically accompanied by motor disorders in the form of myoclonia (= pronounced involuntary muscle twitching) and ataxia (= pronounced balance and coordination disorders). Characteristic changes in the electro-encephalogram (EEG) help to confirm the diagnosis.

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is a human variant of so-called "mad cow disease" (BSE) and occurs in humans both as a "sporadic" form (without a clear cause), as a hereditary form but also as a form acquired through infection. Accordingly, tissues and body fluids from diseased living beings are considered to be potentially infectious. In contrast to the earlier assumption that it is a question of a creeping viral disease ("slow virus" theory), the Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease is caused by the deposition of atypical protein fragments - the so-called prions. These lead to a spongy destruction of the brain tissue (so-called spongiform encephalopathy).

The disease is very rare (around 80 cases per year in Germany) and transmission from animals to humans has so far only been proven in individual cases. There is no known therapy; at best, symptomatic treatment of the neuropsychiatric accompanying symptoms can bring slight relief. Compared to many other dementias, the course is much faster and most of those affected die within a year.

Prof. Johannes Pantel, Frankfurt