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Acta Neuropathol. 1994;87(3):317-24.

The microvascular changes in cases of hereditary multi-infarct disease of the brain.

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Laboratory of Neuropathology, University Hospital, Uppsala, Sweden.


A report on a cerebro-vascular disease with autosomal dominant inheritance, characterised by stroke-like episodes beginning in early adulthood and progressive dementia, afflicting one family living in Sweden was presented in 1977. Another afflicted member showing gait and coordination disturbances and impaired cognitive functions is now introduced. Magnetic resonance imaging revealed multiple brain lesions indicating ischaemic injuries. Previous autopsy studies of other cases revealed white matter atrophy, multiple infarcts and lacunes. In one patient who had died from a cerebral haemorrhage, obliteration of intracerebral arteries, occasionally with organised thrombi was present. Autopsy material has now been reinvestigated with special attention to changes of intracerebral arterioles. Cases with long duration of the disease presented pronounced fibrous thickening of the wall of numerous intracerebral arterioles, degeneration of smooth muscle cells of the media and obliteration of the lumen. Immunohistochemistry showed marked expression of fibrillary collagen types I, III and V and of the basal lamina components collagen type IV and laminin. These depositions are probably induced by some primary dysfunction of smooth muscle cells or endothelial cells. Perivascular reactive astrocytes with endothelin-1-like immunoreactivity were present in some brain regions. Endothelin-1 is the most powerful vasoconstrictor peptide known to date. Structural remodelling of intracerebral arterial vessels, actions of different vasoactive factors and rheological disturbances may all interfere with local blood flow in this disease and cause the parenchymal changes of the brain.

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