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Neurosurgery. 1998 Feb;42(2):291-8; discussion 298-9.

Intracerebral inflammation after human brain contusion.

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Department of Clinical Neuroscience, Karolinska Institute, Stockholm, Sweden.



This study was undertaken to analyze the inflammatory components in contused human brain tissue to compare the findings with previous experimental data regarding the pathogenesis of brain contusions.


Contused brain tissue biopsies were obtained from 12 consecutive patients undergoing surgery for brain contusions 3 hours to 5 days after trauma. Inflammatory and immunological components were analyzed by immunohistochemistry.


In patients undergoing surgery less than 24 hours after trauma, the inflammatory response was limited to vascular margination of polymorphonuclear cells. In patients undergoing surgery 3 to 5 days after trauma, however, a massive inflammatory response consisting of monocytes/macrophages, reactive microglia, polymorphonuclear cells, and CD4- and CD8-positive T lymphocytes was detected. Human lymphocyte antigen-DQ was expressed on reactive microglia and infiltrating leukocytes in the late patient group. In addition, CD1a, which is a marker for antigen-presenting dendritic cells, was detected in a subgroup of microglial cells.


The results corroborated hypotheses derived from experimental data. In the early phase after contusional trauma, inflammation is mainly intravascular and dominated by polymorphonuclear cells. The inflammation was parenchymal in patients undergoing surgery 3 to 5 days after trauma. The brain swelling seemed to be biphasic, the delayed phase correlating with a parenchymal inflammation. The inflammatory cells may produce several potentially harmful effects, such as acute cellular degeneration; they may also lead to degenerative long-term effects.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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