Selective vulnerability in the developing central nervous system

Pediatr Neurol. 2004 Apr;30(4):227-35. doi: 10.1016/j.pediatrneurol.2003.10.001.


Selective patterns of cerebral injury are observed after a variety of insults at different ages during development. Distinct populations of cells demonstrate selective vulnerability during these specific developmental stages, which may account for the observed patterns of injury. We review the evidence that injury to preoligodendrocytes and subplate neurons contributes to periventricular white matter injury in preterm infants, whereas thalamic neuronal cell vulnerability and neuronal nitric oxide synthase-expressing striatal interneurons resistance result in deep gray nuclei damage in the term infant. The unique roles of particular mechanisms including oxidative stress, glutamatergic neurotransmission, and programmed cell death are discussed in the context of this selective vulnerability.

Publication types

  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Brain / pathology
  • Brain Damage, Chronic / pathology*
  • Cell Differentiation / physiology
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature, Diseases / pathology*
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Oligodendroglia / pathology
  • Pregnancy
  • Risk Factors