In 24 cases of multifocal necrotizing encephalopathy (MNE) in Simmental and Simmental-cross cattle, clinical features varied, consisting of mild rear limb ataxia, caudal paresis, and, less often, sudden death. Bilateral and symmetric malacic lesions were present in the brain stem (olivary nucleus) of all affected calves. Foci of malacia affecting thoracic spinal cord and additional brain stem sites were common. Neuronal cell bodies and hypertrophied capillaries were present within malacic foci. Rarefaction of neuropil, progressing to complete parenchymal loss, characterized advanced lesions. Pathologic features were similar to those of Leigh syndrome in humans, and a similar defect in aerobic metabolism is hypothesized. Occurrence of the syndrome within 1 breed over a wide geographic area suggests that hereditary factors contribute to development of MNE.
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