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Marchiafava-Bignami syndrome

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A progressive neurological disease most frequently seen in middle-aged or elderly alcoholic males but also affecting some nonalcoholic subjects. The main symptoms are fits, stupor, coma and dementia. Due to demyelination of the corpus callosum and cortical laminar necrosis involving the frontal and temporal lobes. It has been attributed to drinking "rough" red wine. It was first described in an Italian Chianti drinker. Death usually occurs 4 to 6 years after onset.

The first case was observed by Marchiafava in 1897 and published in a doctoral dissertation (Carducci) in 1898.


  • E. Marchiafava, A. Bignami:
    Sopra un' alterazione del corpo calloso osservata da sogetti alcoolisti.
    Rivista di patologia nervosa e mentale, 1903, 8 (12): 544-549.
  • E. Marchiafava, A. Bignami, A. Nazari:
    Über Symptomdegeneration der Kommissuralbahnen des Gehirns bei chron. Alkoholismus.
    Monatsschrift für Psychiatrie und Neurologie, Berlin, 1911, 29: 181-215, 315-344.

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