Similar calcification process in acute and chronic human brain pathologies



Cellular microcalcification observed in a diversity of human pathologies, such as vascular dementia, Alzheimer's disease, Parkinson's disease, astrogliomas, and posttraumatic epilepsy, also develops in rodent experimental models of central nervous system (CNS) neurodegeneration. Central to the neurodegenerative process is the inability of neurons to regulate intracellular calcium levels properly, and this is extensible to fine regulation of the CNS. This study provides evidence of a common pattern of brain calcification taking place in several human pathologies, and in the rat with glutamate-derived CNS lesions, regarding the chemical composition, physical characteristics, and histological environment of the precipitates. Furthermore, a common physical mechanism of deposit formation through nucleation, lineal growth, and aggregation is presented, under the modulation of protein deposition and elemental composition factors. Insofar as calcium precipitation reduces activity signals at no energy expense, the presence in human and rodent cerebral brain lesions of a common pattern of calcification may reflect an imbalance between cellular signals of activity and energy availability for its execution. If this is true, this new step of calcium homeostasis can be viewed as a general cellular adaptative mechanism to reduce further brain damage. © 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.