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Keywords:

  • Cortical microdysplasia;
  • Perinatal head trauma;
  • Epileptogenesis

Summary: Purpose: Increased availability of surgically resected epileptogenic tissues reveals often unsuspected cortical dysplasia (CD). There is some controversy about the ontogenic stages in which these occur. Although most take place during neuroblast proliferation and migration, there is some evidence for some CD occurring during postmigrational intrinsic cortical organization. It has been shown that various kinds of focal cortical manipulations in rats, if performed within 3–4 postnatal days, lead to the genesis of various cortical malformations including a four-layered microgyrus or an unlayered CD. It is not known whether such events also might occur in the human brain.

Methods: Two children sustained minor head trauma within 4 postnatal days and later developed intractable epilepsy, which was relieved by surgery. Neuropathologic analysis of the resected tissues revealed an unsuspected microdysplastic cortex immediately adjacent to a focal, modest meningeal fibrosis, presumably secondary to the old closed head trauma.

Results: The main histologic features were a disorganized, unlayered cortex; abnormal clusters of neurons, often with complex, randomly oriented proximal dendritic patterns with absent apical orientation; the presence of a number of heterotopic small and large neurons in the white matter; absence of inflammatory infiltrates, of hemosiderine, of reactive gliosis, or of an excessive number of blood vessels. The morphologic features in these surgical specimens suggest that these focal malformations occur because of a regional disorder of postmigrational intrinsic cortical remodeling.

Conclusions: The clinical histories and the pathologic findings lend some support to the hypothesis that minor morbid events occuring in the immediate postnatal period may lead to microdysplasia in the human similar to those induced in rat pups. The animal model could be helpful to clarify the genesis of some cases of CD and of the epileptogenicity often manifesting later in life.