Sonographic evaluation of fetal cerebral structures correlated with histological aspects

Vol. 56 No. 2 Suppl., 2015
This supplement was not sponsored by Outside Organizations.


Alexandru Cristian Comanescu, Nicolae Cernea, Oana-Sorina Tica, Maria Victoria Comanescu, Elena Carmen Niculescu, Charoula Florou, Florin Grosu

Prenatal development of the human brain from undifferentiated neuroepithelium, crosses numerous steps towards primordial organization and subsequent cytoarchitectural layering, ascending and progressive from the lower cortical layers to the superior ones. Our study represents a systematic, comparative assessment of imaging studies and the histological evaluation of the prenatal development of the human brain. We evaluated 232 cases using 3D ultrasound. Histological study was performed on 17 cases aged between 8 and 32 weeks pregnancy and compared with imaging results. For the ultrasound study, we chose five anatomical landmarks: the choroid plexus, thalamus, cerebellum, hippocampus and island (Sylvian fissure). The histological study was performed on dissected brain specimens preserved in formaldehyde and was followed by immunohistochemical determination in order to complete the picture of the morphological evolution of the structures evaluated. We analyzed the accuracy of the description of marker elements (choroid plexus, thalamus, cerebellum, hippocampus and Sylvian fissure) in three-dimensional ultrasound evaluation. This showed a good correlation with the morphological evaluation as well as with the dimensional descriptions from the literature. Histological and immunohistochemical assessment helped complete the picture of the central nervous system development. Highlighting fetal cerebral structures by three-dimensional ultrasound, together with morphological examination helped us create a dynamic array of the central nervous system development.

Corresponding author: Maria Victoria Comanescu, MD, PhD; e-mail:

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Wei Ma, Jin-Wei Yang, Yan Gao, Tao Luo, Jing-ru Cheng, Dong-yan Wang, Jian-hui Guo, Li-yan Li

Development of the human fetal spinal cord is a very complicated process involving numerous signaling pathways including Wnt signaling pathways. These pathways are critical for the development and function of the mammalian nervous system. beta-Catenin is a key molecule in the canonical Wnt signaling pathway. However, the distributions of beta-catenin during development of the human fetal spinal cord have not been well characterized. Therefore, in this study, we performed immunohistochemical analysis of the beta-catenin distribution in the developing human spinal cord from 35 fetuses at three weeks to eight months of gestation. As early as E3W and E4W, beta-catenin was mainly expressed in the internal limiting membrane of the neural tube and neuroepithelium (E: Embryos; W: Weeks). During developmental stages, beta-catenin was widely expressed in various structures and cells including the neuroepithelium, internal limiting membrane, mantle layer, marginal layer, basal plate, alar plate, ependyma, gray matter, white matter, neurons with multiple processes, glial cells, and nerve fibers. This study clarifies the morphological developmental characteristics of the human fetal spinal cord as well as the distribution and expression pattern of beta-catenin in chronological and spatial aspects. Our results suggest that the Wnt/beta-catenin signaling pathway might play a crucial role in various stages of the formation and differentiation of the human fetal spinal cord.

Corresponding author: Li-yan Li, e-mail:; Jian-hui Guo, e-mail:

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