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  • Author or Editor: Eric Massicotte x
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Marc R. Del Bigio and Eric M. Massicotte

Object. Hydrocephalus, a pathological dilation of the ventricles of the brain, causes damage to periventricular white matter, at least in part, through chronic ischemia. The authors tested the hypothesis that treatment with nimodipine, an L-type calcium channel-blocking agent with demonstrated efficacy in a range of cerebral ischemic disorders, would ameliorate the adverse effects of experimental hydrocephalus.

Methods. Hydrocephalus was induced in 3-week-old rats by injection of kaolin into the cisterna magna. The rats were treated by continuous administration of nimodipine or control vehicle for 2 weeks, beginning 2 weeks after induction of hydrocephalus. During the treatment period, the animals underwent repeated tests of motor and cognitive behavior. At the end of the treatment period, the rat brains were analyzed by histopathological and biochemical means.

Nimodipine treatment prevented the declines in motor and cognitive behavior that were observed in untreated control rats. During the treatment period, ventricular enlargement, determined by magnetic resonance imaging, was equal in the two groups, although the corpus callosum was thicker in the treated rats. Myelin content in white matter and synaptophysin content in gray matter, an indicator of synapses, did not differ.

Conclusions. The protective effect of nimodipine is most likely based on improved blood flow, although prevention of calcium influx—mediated proteolytic processes in axons cannot be excluded. Adjunctive pharmacological therapy may be beneficial to patients with hydrocephalus.

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Eric M. Massicotte and Marc R. Del Bigio

Object. The origin of chronic communicating hydrocephalus following subarachnoid hemorrhage (SAH) is not well understood. Fibrosis of the arachnoid villi has been suggested as the cause for obstruction of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) flow, but this is not well supported in the literature. The goal of this study was to determine the relationship between blood, inflammation, and cellular proliferation in arachnoid villi after SAH.

Methods. Arachnoid villi from 50 adult patients were sampled at autopsy. All specimens were subjected to a variety of histochemical and immunohistochemical stains. The 23 cases of SAH consisted of patients in whom an autopsy was performed 12 hours to 34 years post-SAH. Fifteen cases were identified as moderate-to-severe SAH, with varying degrees of hydrocephalus. In comparison with 27 age-matched non-SAH controls, the authors observed blood and inflammation within the arachnoid villi during the 1st week after SAH. Greater mitotic activity was also noted among arachnoid cap cells. The patient with chronic SAH presented with ventriculomegaly 2 months post-SAH and exhibited remarkable arachnoid cap cell accumulation.

Conclusions. The authors postulate that proliferation of arachnoidal cells, triggered by the inflammatory reaction or blood clotting products, could result in obstruction of CSF flow through arachnoid villi into the venous sinuses. This does not exclude the possibility that SAH causes generalized fibrosis in the subarachnoid space.

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Eric M. Massicotte, Richard Buist and Marc R. Del Bigio

Object. It can be inferred from data published in the literature that brain compression occurs in the early stages of acute hydrocephalus and that drainage of extracellular waste products is impaired. The authors hypothesized that compression of the cortex would alter water distribution and retard the diffusion of fluid in the hydrocephalic brain.

Methods. Proton diffusion, blood perfusion, and T1 and T2 relaxation times were determined in adult rat brain by using magnetic resonance imaging prior to, and 1 and 8 days after induction of hydrocephalus by kaolin injection. Five anatomical regions of interest were studied. The striatum, dorsal cortex, and lateral cortex exhibited decreased T2 and apparent diffusion coefficient (ADC) values but no change in perfusion. Examination of white matter revealed an initial decrease in ADC followed by a significant increase. The T2 relaxation times increased and perfusion decreased progressively between 1 and 8 days after induction of hydrocephalus.

Conclusions. Acute experimental hydrocephalus causes compression of gray matter, perhaps associated with reduction in total water, which impairs diffusion of water in the tissue. White matter compression and hypoperfusion precede the development of edema. These findings have importance for understanding the neurochemical changes that occur in hydrocephalic brains.