A distinctive triad of malformations of the central nervous system in the Meckel-Gruber syndrome

J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 1990 Nov;49(6):610-20. doi: 10.1097/00005072-199011000-00007.


A distinct triad of central nervous system (CNS) malformations (prosencephalic dysgenesis, occipital exencephalocele and rhombic roof dysgenesis) was present in seven cases of the Meckel-Gruber syndrome examined at autopsy. We compared our findings with those previously described. Microcephaly, sloping forehead, posterior occipital exencephalocele, cerebellar hypoplasia, Chiari malformation, hydrocephalus, polymicrogyria, arhinencephaly, holoprosencephaly and anencephaly constituted a broad spectrum of the reported CNS anomalies. Few reports contained a comprehensive description of the observed CNS malformations. In those reports, and in our cases, features of prosencephalic dysgenesis included agenesis of olfactory bulbs and tracts (arhinencephaly), hypoplasia of optic nerves and chiasm, agenesis of corpus callosum, fused thalami or complete holoprosencephaly. The occipital encephalocele has consisted of a displacement of rhombic roof elements, including caudal third ventricle, cerebellar vermis and fourth ventricle, extruded through an enlarged posterior fontanelle rather than through an occipital cranium bifidum and is thus more precisely labeled an exencephalocele. Different degrees of dysgenesis of posterior fossa structures, described by some as a variant of Dandy-Walker cyst with features of a Chiari malformation, were often associated with this occipital exencephalocele. This pattern of CNS anomalies represents a triad of malformations probably associated with defective ventral induction of the developing CNS by the prechordal mesoderm.

Publication types

  • Case Reports

MeSH terms

  • Abnormalities, Multiple / pathology*
  • Autopsy
  • Central Nervous System / abnormalities*
  • Craniofacial Dysostosis / pathology*
  • Diencephalon / abnormalities
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Male
  • Rhombencephalon / abnormalities
  • Syndrome