Brain macrophages and microglia in human fetal hydrocephalus [poster presentation]

Ulfig, Norbert; Bohl, Jürgen; Neudörfer, Frank and Rezaie, Payam (2002). Brain macrophages and microglia in human fetal hydrocephalus [poster presentation]. In: Brain and Development, 26(5) pp. 307–315.



Whereas several studies have addressed the activation of microglia (the resident mononuclear phagocytes of the brain) and macrophages within the nervous system in experimental animal models of congenital and induced hydrocephalus, little is known of their state of activation or regional distribution in human fetal hydrocephalus. This investigation aimed to address such questions. Ten human fetal cases [20-36 gestational weeks (GW) at postmortem] previously diagnosed with hydrocephalus on ultrasound examination in utero, and 10 non-hydrocephalic controls (22-38 GW at postmortem) were assessed immufcnohistochemically with antibodies directed against MHC class II and CD68 antigens, and lectin histochemistry with Lycopersicon esculentum (tomato lectin). Adjacent sections were also immunoreacted with an antiserum to laminin to detect cerebral blood vessels. Eight out of the 10 hydrocephalus cases showed numerous CD68 and tomato lectin-positive macrophages located at focal regions along the ependymal lining of the lateral ventricles (particularly within the occipital horn). However, only five of these cases demonstrated MHC class II positive macrophages associated with the ventricular lining. Microglial reactivity within periventricular regions could also be identified using the lectin in four cases, two of which were also immunoreactive with CD68 (but not with MHC class II). By comparison, in control cases five out of 10 fetal brains (aged between 20 and 24 GW) showed few or no ependymal or supraependymal macrophages. One case at 28 GW, and cases at 32 and 38 GW (two of which were diagnosed with intrauterine hypoxic-ischemia) did, however, show some MHC class II (CD68 negative) cells located at the ependymal surface. Nevertheless, these were not as numerous or intensely immunoreactive as in the hydrocephalus cases. Microglia interspersed throughout the intermediate zone and circumscribing the basal ganglia were within normal confines in all cases examined. Hydrocephalic cases additionally showed focal regions of hypovascularization or alterations in the structure and orientation of capillaries within periventricular areas, compared to controls. The macrophage response detected at the ependymal lining of the ventricles and within the periventricular area in hydrocephalus may be related both to the severity of hydrocephalus and the age of the fetus.

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