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J Cereb Blood Flow Metab. 1987 Oct;7(5):625-32.

Light and electron microscopic evaluation of hydrogen ion-induced brain necrosis.

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Department of Pathology--Neuropathology, New York Hospital-Cornell University Medical College, NY 10021.


Excessive accumulation of hydrogen ions in the brain may play a pivotal role in initiating the necrosis seen in infarction and following hyperglycemic augmentation of ischemic brain damage. To examine possible mechanisms involved in hydrogen ion-induced necrosis, sequential structural changes in rat brain were examined following intracortical injection of sodium lactate solution (pH 4.5), as compared with injections at pH 7.3. Following pH 7.3 injection, neuronal swelling developed between 1 and 6 h, but only a needle track wound surrounded by a thin rim of necrotic neurons and vacuolated neuropil was present 24 h after injection. In contrast, pH 4.5 injection produced neuronal necrosis as soon as 1 h after injection, followed by necrosis of astrocytes and intravascular thrombi at 3 and 6 h. Alterations common to both groups included vascular permeability to horseradish peroxidase, dilation of extracellular spaces, astrocyte swelling, capillary compression, and vascular stasis. These data suggest that neurons, astrocytes, and endothelia can be directly damaged by increased acid in the interstitial space. Lethal injury initially appeared to affect neurons, while subsequent astrocyte necrosis and vascular occlusion may damage tissue by secondary ischemia.

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