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Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease: General Overview

Published: 2009-04-01 - Updated: 2022-08-28
Author: Disabled World | Contact: Disabled World (Disabled-World.com)
Peer-Reviewed Publication: N/A
Additional References: Library of Neurological Disorders Publications

Synopsis: Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a rare, rapidly progressive, invariably fatal brain disorder primarily characterized by mental deterioration. Sporadic CJD is the most common form of the disease. It accounts for 85% of cases. The cause of sporadic CJD is unknown, but it is believed that a normal cellular protein undergoes a spontaneous change in conformation (prion protein) that results in the disease. Acquired or Iatrogenic CJD is rare, accounting for less than 1% of cases. It results from accidental transmission during medical interventions. Examples include transmission in cases of corneal transplantation, dural grafts, or treatment with Human Growth Hormone isolated from cadaveric pituitary glands.

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Definition

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD)

Creutzfeldt-Jakob disease (CJD) is a rapidly progressive, invariably fatal neurodegenerative disorder believed to be caused by an abnormal isoform of a cellular glycoprotein known as the prion protein. CJD occurs worldwide, and the estimated annual incidence in many countries, including the United States, has been reported to be about one case per million. Early symptoms include memory problems, behavioral changes, poor coordination, and visual disturbances. Later symptoms include dementia, involuntary movements, blindness, weakness, and coma. Classic CJD is not related to "mad cow" disease. Classic CJD is also distinct from "variant CJD," another prion disease associated with BSE.

Main Digest

Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease alternate names: Jakob-Creutzfeldt Disease, Jakobs Disease, Subacute Spongiform Encephalopathy, Variant (V-CJD) Bovine Spongiform Encephalopathy (BSE), Fatal Familial Insomnia (FFI), Gerstmann-Straussler-Scheinker (GSS) Disease, Prion disease, Mad Cow Disease.

The U.S. Social Security Administration (SSA) has included Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease (CJD) - Adult in its Compassionate Allowance Program, which expedites certain disability conditions claims.

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CJD belongs to human and animal diseases known as transmissible spongiform encephalopathies (TSE) or prion diseases. Spongiform refers to the characteristic appearance of infected brains, which become filled with holes until they resemble sponges under a microscope.

Typically, Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease symptoms start at about age 60 and run a rapid course. There are four major categories of CJD:

Sporadic CJD is the most common form of the disease. It accounts for 85% of cases. The cause of sporadic CJD is unknown, but it is believed that a normal cellular protein undergoes a spontaneous change in conformation (prion protein) that results in the disease. This form of disease is believed to be spontaneous and not the result of an infection.

Hereditary or familial CJD is a very uncommon disease resulting from a mutation in the gene that encodes the prion protein. About 5 to 10 percent of cases of CJD in the United States are hereditary.

Acquired or Iatrogenic CJD is rare, accounting for less than 1% of cases. It results from accidental transmission during medical interventions. Examples include transmission in cases of corneal transplantation, dural grafts, or treatment with Human Growth Hormone isolated from cadaveric pituitary glands.

Variant CJD was first reported in 1996. It is believed to be the result of eating meat from cattle with bovine spongiform encephalopathy (BSE or mad cow disease). In contrast with sporadic CJD, which affects older people, the variant form primarily affects young subjects (i.e., in the late 20s) and may have a longer course, between one and two years.

The diagnosis of CJD is suspected when there are typical clinical symptoms such as rapidly progressing dementia with myoclonus (twitching). Currently, there is no diagnostic test for CJD except for brain biopsy. The first concern is to rule out treatable forms of dementia, such as encephalitis or chronic meningitis.

The following investigations can be performed to support the diagnosis:

Brain biopsy is a definitive diagnostic test performed only in selected cases because the procedure may be dangerous to the individual. Since a correct diagnosis of CJD does not help the individual, brain biopsy is discouraged unless it is needed to rule out a treatable disorder.

Currently, no treatment can cure or control CJD. Current treatment aims to alleviate symptoms and make patients as comfortable as possible. Opiate drugs can help relieve pain; the drugs clonazepam and sodium valproate may help relieve involuntary muscle jerks.

About 90 percent of patients die within one year. In the early stages of the disease, patients may have failing memory, behavioral changes, lack of coordination, and visual disturbances. As the illness progresses, mental deterioration becomes pronounced and involuntary movements, blindness, weakness of extremities, and coma may occur.

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Cite This Page (APA): Disabled World. (2009, April 1). Creutzfeldt-Jakob Disease: General Overview. Disabled World. Retrieved November 29, 2022 from www.disabled-world.com/health/neurology/creutzfeldt-jakob-disease.php

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