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The cerebral cortex in congenital hydrocephalus in the H-Tx rat: a quantitative light microscopy study


Hydrocephalus in the H-Tx rat first develops in late gestation and causes death at 4–7 weeks. The effect of hydrocephalus on overall cortical dimensions and on five specific regions (frontal, sensory-motor, parietal, auditory and visual) has been studied by quantitative light microscopy at 10 and 30 days after birth. The lateral ventricle volumes in hydrocephalic rats were about 40x larger than controls and increased fourfold between 10 and 30 days. Cortical volume was reduced by a small amount at 10 days but was larger in hydrocephalics at 30 days. Thinning of the cortical mantle was severe with disruption of the laminar structure, particularly in the auditory and visual regions, where it was already present at 10 days. The density of cortical cells (neurones and glia) was not altered in hydrocephalics at 10 days but was reduced in all regions at 30 days. Estimates of total cell number suggest that the lower density was not associated with an overall loss of cells. Capillary numerical density was not affected by the hydrocephalus at 10 days after birth but by 30 days it was significantly lower, particularly in the worst-affected posterior regions. The results show that the cerebral cortex is severely distorted and that in advanced hydrocephalus, although overall cell number is not affected, both cell density and capillary density are lower by up to 30%.

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Correspondence to H. C. Jones.

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Supported by the Wellcome Trust and by Action Research

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Jones, H.C., Bucknall, R.M. & Harris, N.G. The cerebral cortex in congenital hydrocephalus in the H-Tx rat: a quantitative light microscopy study. Acta Neuropathol 82, 217–224 (1991). https://doi.org/10.1007/BF00294448

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Key words

  • Hydrocephalus
  • Rat
  • Cerebral cortex
  • Cortical cell density
  • Capillary density