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Yuzuru Tashiro and James M. Drake

Intellectual impairment has been related to alteration of neuronal innervation in the following regions: cholinergic basal forebrain nuclei (Ch1–Ch6, learning and memory), dopaminergic ventral tegmental area (emotional control), and noradrenergic locus ceruleus (cognition). Recent studies have implicated neuronal injury in the pathogenesis of hydrocephalus.

Object. The authors used immunohistochemical techniques to investigate functional injury in these regions in animals with progressive hydrocephalus, following shunt placement for cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) drainage.

Methods. Hydrocephalus was induced in 20 Wistar rats by intracisternal injection of 0.05 ml of 25% kaolin solution. Four control animals (Group 1) received the same volume of saline. Ventriculoperitoneal shunts were inserted in eight rats at 2 and 4 weeks after kaolin injection and the animals were killed at 8 weeks (Group 2). The other 12 hydrocephalic animals were killed at 2, 4, and 8 weeks without undergoing shunt placement (Group 3). Immunoreactive (IR) neurons to choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) in Ch1–Ch6, tyrosine hydroxylase (TH) in the ventral tegmental area, and dopamine B-hydroxylase (DBH) in the locus ceruleus, as well as IR projection fibers in the terminal areas, were compared between groups. The number of ChAT- and TH-IR neurons in rats with and without shunt placement was counted for quantitative analysis. The number of ChAT-IR neurons was progressively reduced during the development of hydrocephalus in Ch1, Ch2, Ch3, and Ch4 (p < 0.05). Tyrosine-hydroxylase-immunoreactive neurons were also reduced in number, and demonstrated decreased projection fibers and terminals. Early shunting (at 2 weeks) restored ChAT and TH immunoreactivity to control levels, but late shunting (at 4 weeks) did not (p < 0.05). The DBH—IR neurons in the locus ceruleus were remarkably compressed by the dilated fourth ventricle, and diminished immunoreactivity was observed in the terminal areas. Shunt placement for CSF also restored the immunoreactivity in this system.

Conclusions. These findings indicate that a progressive functional injury occurs in the cholinergic, dopaminergic, and noradrenergic systems as a result of hydrocephalus. This may contribute to intellectual impairment and might be prevented by early treatment with shunt placement.

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Yuzuru Tashiro, Shushovan Chakrabortty, James M. Drake, and Toshiaki Hattori

✓ The authors investigated functional neuronal changes in experimental hydrocephalus using immunohistochemical techniques for glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) and two neuronal calcium-binding proteins: parvalbumin (PV) and calbindin D28K (CaBP).

Hydrocephalus was induced in 16 adult Wistar rats by intracisternal injection of a kaolin solution, which was confirmed microscopically via atlantooccipital dural puncture. Four control rats received the same volume of sterile saline. Immunohistochemical staining for GAD, PV, and CaBP, and Nissl staining were performed at 1, 2, 3, and 4 weeks after the injection. Hydrocephalus occurred in 90% of kaolin-injected animals with various degrees of ventricular dilation. In the cerebral cortex, GAD-, PV-, and CaBP-immunoreactive (IR) interneurons initially lost their stained processes together with a concomitant loss of homogeneous neuropil staining, followed by the reduction of their total number. With progressive ventricular dilation, GAD- and PV-IR axon terminals on the cortical pyramidal cells disappeared, whereas the number of CaBP-IR pyramidal cells decreased, and ultimately in the most severe cases of hydrocephalus, GAD, PV, and CaBP immunoreactivity were almost entirely diminished. In the hippocampus, GAD-, PV-, and CaBP-IR interneurons demonstrated a reduction of their processes and terminals surrounding the pyramidal cells, with secondary reduction of CaBP-IR pyramidal and granular cells. On the other hand, Nissl staining revealed almost no morphological changes induced by ischemia or neuronal degeneration even in the most severe cases of hydrocephalus.

Hydrocephalus results in the progressive functional impairment of GAD-, PV-, and CaBP-IR neuronal systems in the cerebral cortex and hippocampus, often before there is evidence of morphological injury. The initial injury of cortical and hippocampal interneurons suggests that the functional deafferentation from intrinsic projection fibers may be the initial neuronal event in hydrocephalic brain injury. Although the mechanism of this impairment is still speculative, these findings emphasize the importance of investigating the neuronal pathophysiology in hydrocephalus.

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Yuzuru Tashiro, Shushovan Chakrabortty, James M. Drake, and Toshiaki Hattori

The authors investigated functional neuronal changes in experimental hydrocephalus using immunohistochemical techniques for glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD) and two neuronal calcium-binding proteins: parvalbumin (PV) and calbindin D28K (CaBP).

Hydrocephalus was induced in 16 adult Wistar rats by intracisternal injection of a kaolin solution, which was confirmed microscopically via atlantooccipital dural puncture. Four control rats received the same volume of sterile saline. Immunohistochemical staining for GAD, PV, and CaBP and Nissl staining were performed at 1, 2, 3, and 4 weeks after the injection. Hydrocephalus occurred in 90% of kaolin-injected animals with various degrees of ventricular dilation. In the cerebral cortex, GAD-, PV-, and CaBP-immunoreactive (IR) interneurons initially lost their stained processes together with a concomitant loss of homogeneous neuropil staining, followed by the reduction of their total number. With progressive ventricular dilation, GAD- and PV-IR axon terminals on the cortical pyramidal cells disappeared, whereas the number of CaBP-IR pyramidal cells decreased, and ultimately in the most severe cases of hydrocephalus, GAD, PV, and CaBP immunoreactivity was almost entirely diminished. In the hippocampus, GAD-, PV-, and CaBP-IR interneurons demonstrated a reduction of their processes and terminals surrounding the pyramidal cells, with secondary reduction of CaBP-IR pyramidal and granular cells. On the other hand, Nissl staining revealed almost no morphological changes induced by ischemia or neuronal degeneration even in the most severe cases of hydrocephalus.

Hydrocephalus results in the progressive functional impairment of GAD-, PV-, and CaBP-IR neuronal systems in the cerebral cortex and hippocampus, often before there is evidence of morphological injury. The initial injury of cortical and hippocampal interneurons suggests that the functional deafferentation from intrinsic projection fibers may be the initial neuronal event in hydrocephalic brain injury. Although the mechanism of this impairment is still speculative, these findings emphasize the importance of investigating the neuronal pathophysiology in hydrocephalus.

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Marcia C. da Silva, James M. Drake, Claude Lemaire, Albert Cross, and Ursula I. Tuor

✓ The authors studied the effects of hydrocephalus on the high-energy phosphate metabolism of the brain and the impact of ventriculoperitoneal (VP) shunting on these changes in an experimental model of hydrocephalus. High-energy phosphate metabolism was analyzed using in vivo magnetic resonance (MR) imaging and 31P MR spectroscopy. Hydrocephalus was produced in 34 1-week-old kittens by cisternal injection of 0.05 ml of a 25% kaolin solution. Sixteen litter mates were used as controls. A VP shunt with a distal slit valve was implanted in 17 of the 34 hydrocephalic animals 10 days after induction of hydrocephalus. Both MR imaging and 31P MR spectroscopy were obtained 1 and 3 weeks after either kaolin or distilled water injection. Untreated hydrocephalic animals had marked dilatation of the lateral ventricles and periventricular edema. Magnetic resonance spectroscopy showed a significant decrease in the energy index ratio of phosphocreatine (PCR): inorganic phosphate (PI) and an increase in the PI:adenosine triphosphate (ATP) ratio. There was a direct correlation between the decrease in the energy index and ventricular size. Compared with preoperative scans, shunted animals showed no periventricular edema, and the ventricles decreased in size. Also, PCR:PI and PI:ATP ratios were within the levels of controls. This study suggests that neonatal hydrocephalus results in a mild hypoxic/ischemic insult that is treatable by VP shunting.

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Paul D. Chumas, James M. Drake, Marc R. Del Bigio, Marcia Da Silva, and Ursula I. Tuor

✓ The metabolic changes in neonatal hydrocephalus that lead to permanent brain injury are not clearly defined, nor is the extent to which these changes can be prevented by a cerebrospinal fluid shunt. To clarify these processes, cerebral glucose utilization was examined using [14C]2-deoxyglucose autoradiography in 1-month-old kittens, kaolin-induced hydrocephalic littermates, and hydrocephalic kittens in which a ventriculoperitoneal shunt had been inserted 10 days after kaolin injection. The hydrocephalic kittens showed thinning of the cerebral mantle and an anterior-to-posterior gradient of enlargement of the ventricular system, with a ventricle:brain ratio of 24% for the frontal and 35% for the occipital horns compared with control (< 0.5%) and shunted (< 5%) animals. White matter in hydrocephalic animals was edematous. Myelination was delayed in the periventricular region and in the cores of the cerebral gyri.

Glucose utilization in hydrocephalic and shunted animals was unchanged from control animals in all gray-matter regions examined. However, in hydrocephalic animals, the frontal white matter exhibited a significant increase in glucose utilization (25 µmol • 100 gm−1 • min−1) in the cores of gyri compared with normal surrounding white-matter values (14.8 µmol • 100 gm−1 • min−1). Very low values (mean 4 µmol • 100 gm−1 • min−1) were found in areas corresponding to severe white-matter edema, and these areas were surrounded by a halo of increased activity (24 µmol • 100 gm−1 • min−1). In contrast, cytochrome oxidase activity in white matter was homogeneous. Shunting resulted in restoration of the cerebral mantle thickness, a return to normal levels of glucose utilization in the white matter, and an improvement in myelination.

It is suggested that the areas of increased glucose utilization seen in the white matter represent anaerobic glycolysis which, if untreated, progresses to infarction. The pattern of this increased glucose utilization matches that of expected myelination and, during this period of high energy demand, white matter may be susceptible to the hypoperfusion associated with hydrocephalus.

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Paul D. Chumas, Marc R. Del Bigio, James M. Drake, and Ursula I. Tuor

✓ It has recently been reported that pretreatment with a single dose of dexamethasone (0.1 mg/kg) 24 hours before hypoxia in 7-day-old rat pups is protective against an hypoxic-ischemic insult (unilateral carotid artery occlusion followed by 3 hours of hypoxia in 8% O2). The authors now examine whether pretreatment 6 hours before insult is equally effective and compare other agents potentially suitable for prophylaxis in neonatal hypoxia-ischemia, including the calcium antagonists flunarizine (30 mg/kg pretreatment), nimodipine (0.5 mg/kg pretreatment), and the 21-aminosteroid U-74389F (10 mg/kg pre- and posttreatment). For each active agent, there was also a vehicle-treated control group.

Comparison of the mean area of ipsilateral infarction on brain coronal sections showed that there was no statistically significant difference between the various control groups (mean area of infarction 66% ± 4%). Pretreatment with dexamethasone 6 hours prior to hypoxia offered complete protection with no infarction. A beneficial effect was seen following pretreatment with flunarizine (mean area of infarction 33.6% ± 7.8%), although this degree of damage was still significantly different from that seen with dexamethasone pretreatment. Pretreatment with nimodipine or U-74389F offered no protection (mean area of infarction 77.5% ± 4% and 59% ± 10%, respectively). Unlike findings in adult animals and clinical studies, the current studies show that dexamethasone may have a role in the treatment of neonatal hypoxia-ischemia and deserves reappraisal.

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Paul D. Chumas, Derek C. Armstrong, James M. Drake, Abhaya V. Kulkarni, Harold J. Hoffman, Robin P. Humphreys, James T. Rutka, and E. Bruce Hendrick

✓ Although the development of tonsillar herniation (acquired Chiari malformation) in association with lumboperitoneal (LP) shunting is well recognized, it has previously been considered rare. In order to ascertain the incidence of this complication after LP shunting, the authors undertook a retrospective study of all patients in whom this form of shunt had been inserted between 1974 and 1991 at The Hospital for Sick Children, Toronto. In the 143 patients, the mean age at insertion was 3.3 years and the indications for shunt placement were hydrocephalus (81%), pseudotumor cerebri (7%), cerebrospinal fluid fistula (6%), and posterior fossa pseudomeningocele (6%). The mean follow-up period was 5.7 years, during which time there was one shunt-related death due to unsuspected tonsillar herniation. Five other patients developed symptomatic tonsillar herniation treated by suboccipital decompression.

Review of all computerized tomography (CT) scans not degraded by artifact showed evidence of excess soft tissue at the level of the foramen magnum in 38 (70%) of 54 patients so studied. In order to confirm that this CT finding represented hindbrain herniation, sagittal and axial magnetic resonance (MR) images were obtained for 17 asymptomatic patients and revealed tonsillar herniation (range 2 to 21 mm) in 12 (70.6%). In addition, some of these asymptomatic patients had evidence of uncal herniation and mesencephalic distortion. Similarities and distinctions are drawn between the morphological changes occurring after LP shunting and those seen in association with the Chiari I and II malformations. Although less than 5% of this study population required treatment for tonsillar herniation, the incidence of this complication was high in asymptomatic patients; MR imaging surveillance for patients with LP shunts is therefore recommended.

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William P. Vandertop, Akio Asai, Harold J. Hoffman, James M. Drake, Robin P. Humphreys, James T. Rutka, and Laurence E. Becker

✓ Between January, 1981, and July, 1991, 17 infants under 1 month of age were admitted to The Hospital for Sick Children with the signs and symptoms of a Chiari II malformation. These patients' presentation included swallowing difficulty (71%), stridor (59%), apneic spells (29%), aspiration (12%), weakness of cry (18%), and arm weakness (53%). Decompression of the Chiari II malformation was performed in all patients, with a time interval between onset of symptoms and surgery ranging from 1 to 121 days. Fifteen patients (88%) remain alive, all of whom have shown a complete recovery. The mean follow-up period in this group of patients was 65 months. Two patients died, one due to respiratory arrest 8 months after decompression and the other because of shunt infection and peritonitis 7 years after decompression. These results support the concept that compressive forces, rather than a primary intrinsic disorder of the brain-stem nuclei, play a crucial etiological role in the development of a symptomatic Chiari II malformation. Early recognition of the symptoms of Chiari II malformation should be followed by immediate decompressive laminectomy in order to promote a prompt and full neurological recovery.