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Acta Neuropathol. 2007 Dec;114(6):619-31. Epub 2007 Oct 3.

Gray matter injury associated with periventricular leukomalacia in the premature infant.

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  • 1Department of Pathology, Children's Hospital Boston, Boston, MA, USA.


Neuroimaging studies indicate reduced volumes of certain gray matter regions in survivors of prematurity with periventricular leukomalacia (PVL). We hypothesized that subacute and/or chronic gray matter lesions are increased in incidence and severity in PVL cases compared to non-PVL cases at autopsy. Forty-one cases of premature infants were divided based on cerebral white matter histology: PVL (n = 17) with cerebral white matter gliosis and focal periventricular necrosis; diffuse white matter gliosis (DWMG) (n = 17) without necrosis; and "Negative" group (n = 7) with no abnormalities. Neuronal loss was found almost exclusively in PVL, with significantly increased incidence and severity in the thalamus (38%), globus pallidus (33%), and cerebellar dentate nucleus (29%) compared to DWMG cases. The incidence of gliosis was significantly increased in PVL compared to DWMG cases in the deep gray nuclei (thalamus/basal ganglia; 50-60% of PVL cases), and basis pontis (100% of PVL cases). Thalamic and basal ganglionic lesions occur almost exclusively in infants with PVL. Gray matter lesions occur in a third or more of PVL cases suggesting that white matter injury generally does not occur in isolation, and that the term "perinatal panencephalopathy" may better describe the scope of the neuropathology.

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