Developmental neuropathology and impact of perinatal brain damage. II: white matter lesions of the neocortex

J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 1997 Mar;56(3):219-35. doi: 10.1097/00005072-199703000-00001.


The neuropathology and developmental impact of acute, subacute, and chronic white matter lesions has been studied in infants who survived (days, weeks, months, or years) this type of perinatal brain damage. The study emphasizes the survival of the developing gray matter overlying extensive white matter lesions (multicystic encephalopathy, porencephaly, and hydranencephaly ex-vacuo). Although partially isolated from afferent inputs (corticipetal fiber destruction) and unable to reach other cortical centers (corticofugal fiber destruction), this overlying gray matter is able to survive because neither its independent leptomeningeal blood supply nor its intrinsic anastomotic vasculature are affected by the underlying lesion. Moreover, the postinjury structural and functional development of this partially isolated gray matter is altered. Some of its axotomized pyramidal neurons are transformed into local-circuit interneurons, some of its interneurons are structurally and functionally enlarged (hypertrophy), and its intracortical neuropil (deprived of afferent synaptic terminals) increases by an expansion of intrinsic terminals (hypertrophy). An attempt has been made to correlate these postinjury alterations with the pathogenesis of the ensuing neurologic sequelae (7 infants develop epilepsy). The study proposes that neurological sequelae (e.g. epilepsy and cerebral palsy) following perinatal white matter lesions are a direct consequence of the postinjury gray matter transformations.

Publication types

  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.
  • Review

MeSH terms

  • Brain Damage, Chronic / pathology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / growth & development
  • Cerebral Cortex / pathology*
  • Humans
  • Infant
  • Infant, Newborn
  • Infant, Newborn, Diseases / pathology*