Send to

Choose Destination
Pediatr Dev Pathol. 2007 Mar-Apr;10(2):106-16.

Pulmonary neuroendocrine cells and neuroepithelial bodies in sudden infant death syndrome: potential markers of airway chemoreceptor dysfunction.

Author information

Division of Pathology, Department of Paediatric Laboratory Medicine, The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto, ON, M5G1X8, Canada.


Pulmonary neuroendocrine cells (PNEC), including neuroepithelial bodies (NEB), are amine- and peptide (for example, bombesin)-producing cells that function as hypoxia/hypercapnia-sensitive chemoreceptors that could be involved in the pathophysiology of sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS). We assessed morphometrically the frequency and size of PNEC/NEB in lungs of infants who died of SIDS (n = 21) and compared them to an equal number PNEC/NEB in lungs of age-matched control infants who died of accidental death or homicide, with all cases obtained from the San Diego SIDS/SUDC Research Project database. As a marker for PNEC/NEB we used an antibody against chromogranin A (CGA), and computer-assisted morphometric analysis was employed to determine the relative frequency of PNEC per airway epithelial area (% immunostained area, %IMS), the size of NEB, the number of nuclei/NEB, and the size of the NEB cells. The lungs of SIDS infants showed significantly greater %IMS of airway epithelium (2.72 +/- 0.28 [standard error of the mean, SEM] versus 1.88 +/- 0.24; P < 0.05) and larger NEB (1557 +/- 153 microm(2) versus 1151 +/- 106 microm(2); P < 0.05) compared to control infants. The size of NEB cells was also significantly increased in SIDS cases compared to the controls (180 +/- 6.39 microm(2) versus 157 +/- 8.0 microm(2); P < 0.05), indicating the presence of hypertrophy in addition to hyperplasia. Our findings support previous studies demonstrating hyperplasia of PNEC/NEB in lungs of infants who died of SIDS. These changes could be secondary to chronic hypoxia and/or could be attributable to maturational delay. Morphometric assessment and/or measurement of the secretory products of these cells (for example, CGA, bombesin) could provide a potential biological marker for SIDS.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

Supplemental Content

Full text links

Icon for Atypon
Loading ...
Support Center