Neurosci Lett 2005 Apr 6;378(1):1-6. Epub 2005 Jan 6.
Department of Pediatrics, University of Louisville School of Medicine, 571 S. Floyd Street, Suite 300, Louisville, Kentucky 40202-3830, USA.
The role of complement in neonatal hypoxic-ischemic brain injury is not known. Therefore, cerebral spinal fluid (CSF) and post-mortem cerebral tissue were analyzed to determine whether complement is activated and complement component 9 (C9) is deposited on neurons in the central nervous systems (CNS) of newborn infants who developed moderate to severe hypoxic-ischemic encephalopathy (HIE). Control CSF samples were obtained during routine evaluation for possible sepsis from infants who were not depressed at birth. In ELISA assays of CSF obtained from 16 infants with HIE, compared to CSF from 7 control infants, the mean concentration of terminal complement complexes was elevated and the mean C9 concentration was diminished. Immunofluorescence microscopy of post-mortem frozen brain tissue obtained from two infants who expired at 4-5 days of life after severe HIE revealed that activated C9 was deposited on cells in all lobes. Double label immunofluorescence microscopy demonstrated that nearly all of the C9-positive cells were neurons and essentially all of the neurons were C9-positive. Immunoperoxidase immunohistochemistry of formalin-fixed tissue also confirmed the presence of many C9-positive cells, particularly in the hippocampus. The C9-positive cells usually manifested morphology consistent with neurons, most of which contained fragmented nuclei. In summary, complement was activated in the CNS of newborn infants who developed moderate to severe HIE. C9 was deposited on neurons, including morphologically apoptotic neurons. Further investigations into a possible role of complement in the pathogenesis of neonatal hypoxic-ischemic cerebral injury are warranted.