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Virchows Arch. 2005 Jun;446(6):640-5. Epub 2005 Apr 19.

Pontosubicular apoptosis ("necrosis") in human neonates with intrauterine growth retardation and placental infarction.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Mater Hospitals, Brisbane, Australia.


In a previous study of 37 autopsied stillbirths with non-dysmorphic intrauterine growth retardation (IUGR), 26 cases were associated with placental infarction, a morphologic marker of uteroplacental insufficiency. Nine of the 26 cases with both IUGR and placental infarction, where archival tissue was available, had grey matter ischaemic lesions that were subsequently identified as "pontosubicular necrosis". This lesion is now regarded as a localized form of apoptosis. A further eight third trimester stillbirth cases with both IUGR and placental infarction were ascertained prospectively. Sixteen of these 17 cases showed pontosubicular apoptosis, identified morphologically and verified using activated caspase-3 and TUNEL. Five of the 17 cases showed apoptosis in the frontal or temporal cortex as well. In this current study, pontosubicular apoptosis was strongly associated with IUGR and placental infarction in third trimester stillborns, suggesting that uteroplacental insufficiency leading to chronic fetal hypoxaemia may cause cerebral apoptosis.

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