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Exp Neurol. 1993 Dec;124(2):326-42.

Consequences of reduced cerebral blood flow in brain development. I. Gross morphology, histology, and callosal connectivity.

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Department of Psychology, Cornell University, Ithaca, New York 14853.


Reduced blood flow produced by bilateral carotid artery occlusion (BCAO) caused multiple histopathological alterations in the cerebral cortex of developing cats. BCAO was performed in the second postnatal week. At 1 and 2 months, global structural observations were made using magnetic resonance imaging (MRI). At 3 months, neuron and glial density, extent of myelination, blood vessel distribution, and the distribution of visual callosal projecting neurons (as visualized with the retrogradely transported tracer horseradish peroxidase) were assessed by light microscopy. MRI showed lateral ventricular dilatation at 1 month in five of eight subjects, with wide-ranging severity, although at 2 months only two animals still had enlarged ventricles. Histological observations at 3 months showed that neuron density in the motor cortex, but not the occipital cortex, of BACO animals was significantly lower than that in controls. BCAO animals had more dilated small vessels, again more evident in the motor cortex than in the occipital cortex. From frontal to occipital cortex, the corpus callosum was thinned and the subcortical white matter was reduced. Even with the reduction of white matter, the number of neurons in visual areas 17 and 18 contributing a callosal projection was much higher than normal. BCAO thus altered cerebral vascularization, caused neuronal death, and reduced myelinization over an area much greater than the direct area of carotid perfusion. The excess callosal projection in these animals suggests that neonatal ischemia interferes with the normal process of axon retraction during development.

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