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Alterations of Biological Features of the Cerebellum in Sudden Perinatal and Infant Death

[ Vol. 6 , Issue. 4 ]


Anna M. Lavezzi, Giulia Ottaviani, Maria Mauri and Luigi Matturri   Pages 429 - 435 ( 7 )


This article intends to show how the cerebellum, a structure ordinarily not considered in mediating breathing or cardiovascular control, may play a critical role in compensatory responses particularly to hypoxic insults occurring pre and/or postnatally and thus may be involved in the sudden unexplained perinatal and infant death. Besides the ontogenesis of the cerebellar cortex in man, we reported alterations of biopathological features (neuronal immaturity, altered apoptotic programs, negative expression of somatostatin and EN2 gene, intense c-fos expression positivity, astrogliosis) in the cortex and in the dentate nucleus of the 63% of sudden deaths, and only in 10% of the controls. The correlation of these results with the mothers smoking habit was highly significant. Therefore, we support the hypothesis, already expressed in previous studies on brainstem, of a close relation between maternal cigarette smoking and a wide range of morpho-physiological defects of the brain, leading to unexplained sudden death in stillbirths, newborns, and Sudden Infant Death Syndrome (SIDS) victims.


Sudden unexplained perinatal death (SUPD), sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS), sudden intrauterine unexplained death (SIUD), sudden neonatal unexplained death (SNUD), cerebellum


Institute of Pathology,University of Milan, Via della Commenda, 19, 20122 Milan, Italy.

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