Anatomic analysis of blood vessels in germinal matrix, cerebral cortex, and white matter in developing infants

Pediatr Res. 2004 Jul;56(1):117-24. doi: 10.1203/01.PDR.0000130472.30874.FF. Epub 2004 May 5.


The germinal matrix (GM) located in the thick subependymal cell layer of the thalamostriate groove is a major site of cerebral hemorrhage in premature infants. Comparing the morphology of vasculature among GM, gray and white matter of the brain may help in understanding the pathogenesis of GM hemorrhage and also of periventricular leukomalacia. The objective of the present study was to determine the morphology of blood vessels in the GM, gray matter, and white matter and to examine maturational changes in the morphology of these vessels as a function of gestational age. We measured vessel density, percentage of blood vessel area, mean surface area, length, breadth, perimeter, radius, and shape of blood vessels in coronal sections of the GM, gray matter, and white matter in postmortem human brain samples for 17 fetuses and premature infants of gestational age 16-40 wk and 2 adults. We performed immunohistochemical staining using anti-laminin primary antibody, confocal microscopy to acquire images, and analysis using Metamorph version 6.1. Vessel density and the percentage of blood vessel area increased as a function of gestational age in the GM, gray matter, and white matter (p < 0.001 each). The blood vessel density and the percentage of blood vessel area were largest in the GM followed by gray matter and then white matter in all of the gestational age categories (p < 0.001 for all comparisons). Increased vascularity of the GM compared with gray and white matter may play a role in GM hemorrhage, whereas a relatively low vascularity of white matter may increase the propensity for the occurrence of periventricular leukomalacia in premature infants

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Cerebral Cortex / blood supply*
  • Cerebral Cortex / embryology
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology
  • Cerebral Hemorrhage / pathology*
  • Cerebrovascular Circulation*
  • Child, Preschool
  • Ependyma / blood supply*
  • Ependyma / embryology
  • Ependyma / pathology
  • Female
  • Gestational Age
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Premature
  • Leukomalacia, Periventricular / pathology*
  • Male
  • Microscopy, Confocal
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Fibers