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J Neurosci. 2020 Feb 19;40(8):1766-1777. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.0192-19.2019. Epub 2020 Jan 17.

Signs of Reduced Basal Progenitor Levels and Cortical Neurogenesis in Human Fetuses with Open Spina Bifida at 11-15 Weeks of Gestation.

Author information

1
Institute of Veterinary Anatomy, Histology and Embryology, University of Leipzig, 04103 Leipzig, Germany.
2
Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, 01307 Dresden, Germany.
3
Institute for Medical Informatics, Statistics, and Epidemiology, University of Leipzig, 04107 Leipzig, Germany.
4
Max Planck Institute of Molecular Cell Biology and Genetics, 01307 Dresden, Germany, huttner@mpi-cbg.de robert.lachmann@fetalmedicinecentre.de.
5
Department for Obstetrics and Gynecology, University Hospital Carl Gustav Carus, Technical University Dresden, 01307 Dresden, Germany, huttner@mpi-cbg.de robert.lachmann@fetalmedicinecentre.de.
6
Fetal Medicine Centre Dresden, 01156 Dresden, Germany.
7
Fetal Medicine Centre Germany, Carl-Thiem-Klinikum, 03048 Cottbus, Germany, and.
8
Lausitzer Seenlandklinikum Hoyerswerda, 02977 Hoyerswerda, Germany.

Abstract

Open spina bifida (OSB) is one of the most prevalent congenital malformations of the CNS that often leads to severe disabilities. Previous studies reported the volume and thickness of the neocortex to be altered in children and adolescents diagnosed with OSB. Until now, the onset and the underlying cause of the atypical neocortex organization in OSB patients remain largely unknown. To examine the effects of OSB on fetal neocortex development, we analyzed human fetuses of both sexes diagnosed with OSB between 11 and 15 weeks of gestation by immunofluorescence for established neuronal and neural progenitor marker proteins and compared the results with healthy controls of the same, or very similar, gestational age. Our data indicate that neocortex development in OSB fetuses is altered as early as 11 weeks of gestation. We observed a marked reduction in the radial thickness of the OSB neocortex, which appears to be attributable to a massive decrease in the number of deep- and upper-layer neurons per field, and found a marked reduction in the number of basal progenitors (BPs) per field in the OSB neocortex, consistent with an impairment of cortical neurogenesis underlying the neuronal decrease in OSB fetuses. Moreover, our data suggest that the decrease in BP number in the OSB neocortex may be associated with BPs spending a lesser proportion of their cell cycle in M-phase. Together, our findings expand our understanding of the pathophysiology of OSB and support the need for an early fetal therapy (i.e., in the first trimester of pregnancy).SIGNIFICANCE STATEMENT Open spina bifida (OSB) is one of the most prevalent congenital malformations of the CNS. This study provides novel data on neocortex development of human OSB fetuses. Our data indicate that neocortex development in OSB fetuses is altered as early as 11 weeks of gestation. We observed a marked reduction in the radial thickness of the OSB neocortex, which appears to be attributable a decrease in the number of deep- and upper-layer neurons per field, and found a marked reduction in the number of basal progenitors per field, indicating that impaired neurogenesis underlies the neuronal decrease in OSB fetuses. Our findings support the need for an early fetal therapy and expand our understanding of the pathophysiology of OSB.

KEYWORDS:

basal progenitors; human; neocortex; neurogenesis; open spina bifida; prenatal development

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