Kuru Workup

Updated: Mar 15, 2019
  • Author: Zartash Zafar Khan, MD, FACP; Chief Editor: Pranatharthi Haran Chandrasekar, MBBS, MD  more...
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Laboratory Studies

No laboratory studies are helpful in diagnosing kuru, except postmortem pathologic evaluation of CNS tissue.

Cerebrospinal fluid 14-3-3 protein, neuronal specific enolase (NSE), and S-100, although not specific for CJD, may be helpful diagnostically in the appropriate clinical context for the diagnosis of CJD. [34] No data suggest the usefulness of these markers in the diagnosis of kuru.

Identification of a distinctive combination of 129M/M genotype, kuru plaques, and intermediate-type PrPSc has been associated with acquired CJD. [35]


Imaging Studies

No imaging studies are helpful in diagnosing kuru.


Histologic Findings

Primary changes include vacuoles in nerve cell bodies, dendrites, and axons and reactive swelling and proliferation in astrocytes caused by neuronal damage. [11] Hematoxylin and eosin–stained sections show amyloid plaques. Gliosis and vacuolization are found throughout the gray matter without any well-defined pattern and involve, most consistently, the cerebellum, pons, thalamus, basal ganglia, and the anterior horns of the spinal cord. [36, 21] Plaques positive for periodic acid-Schiff reagent are seen frequently in the granular and molecular layers of the cerebellum of individuals with kuru and in some cases of scrapie. [11]