Synaptophysin Immunoreactivity in the Human Hippocampus and Neocortex From 6 to 41 Weeks of Gestation
Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology
To assess the synaptic vesicle protein synaptophysin as a potential marker for maturation in the human fetal brain, synaptophysin immunoreactivity (sIR) was prospectively studied in postmortem sections of 162 normal human fetal and neonatal brains of both sexes from 6 to 41 weeks' gestational age. There was a consistent temporal and spatial pattern of sIR in the hippocampus and cerebral neocortex. In the rostral hippocampus, sIR was first apparent in the molecular zone of the dentate gyrus at
... weeks, followed by CA2 at 14 weeks, CA3 and CA4 at 15 to 16 weeks, and CA1 at 19 weeks; it was incomplete until 26 weeks. In frontal neocortex, sIR developed in a laminar pattern above and below the cortical plate as early as 12 weeks, around Cajal-Retzius neurons of the molecular zone at 14 weeks, surrounding pyramidal neurons of Layers 5 and 6 at 16 weeks, and at the surface of neuronal somata in Layers 2 and 4 at 22 weeks. At 33 weeks, Layers 2 and 4 still had less sIR than other layers. Uniform sIR among all cortical layers was evident at 38 weeks. Ascending probable thalamocortical axons were reactive as early as 12 weeks and were best demonstrated by 26 weeks, after which increasing sIR in the neuropil diminished the contrast. The sIR was preserved for more than 96 hours postmortem, even in severely autolytic brains. We conclude that synaptophysin is a reliable marker in human fetal brain and that sIR provides the means for objective assessment of cerebral maturation in normal brains and to enable interpretation of abnormal synaptic patterns in pathological conditions. http://jnen.oxfordjournals.org/ Downloaded from FIGURE 3. Hippocampus at 26 weeks and at term. (A) There is greater synaptophysin immunoreactivity in the CA3, CA4, and CA1 sectors than at 22 weeks, but the staining is still not as intense as in CA2. (B) Details of dentate gyrus and (C) CA2 and CA3 sectors of Ammon horn. (D) The hippocampus of a 41-week term neonate shows intense diffuse synaptophysin reactivity in all regions. Original magnification: (A, D) 100Â; (B, C) 250Â.