Morphological Features in Human Cortical Brain Microvessels after Head Injury: A Three-Dimensional and Immunocytochemical Study

Alfonso Rodríguez-Baeza, Francisco Reina-De La Torre, Antonia Poca, Mercè Martí, Angel Garnacho

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

90 Citations (Scopus)


We studied the morphology of cortical microvessels in the brains of 10 patients who had died after receiving a traumatic head injury (THI). Scanning electron microscopy (SEM) of vascular corrosion casts, confocal microscopy of histological sections after immunocytochemistry, and detection of apoptosis by terminal dUTP nick end labeling (TUNEL) were used. Microvascular casts showed an angioarchitectonic distribution that was defined as normal according to results obtained in a previous, nontraumatic series of subjects. However, when we compared them with previous works, the cast surface of some of the microvessels showed three types of morphological alterations: longitudinal folds, sunken surfaces with craters, and a significant flattening with reduction of lumen. The vessels that were primarily affected were the arterioles and capillaries of the middle and deep cortical vascular zones. Immunostaining with the monoclonal antibody MAS-336 against endothelial cells also showed the presence of longitudinal folds with a thinning of the vascular lumen, cytoplasmic round bodies, and a thickening of the endothelial cell membrane. The TUNEL technique revealed a positive staining of some endothelial cells. The structural alterations we observed indicate that microvessels undergo endothelial cell damage after THI. We suggest that this kind of lesion and the secondary functional injury to the blood-brain barrier (BBB) could play an important role in the development of the secondary lesions that these patients show in the subacute phase. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)583-593
JournalAnatomical Record - Part A Discoveries in Molecular, Cellular, and Evolutionary Biology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2003


  • Apoptosis
  • Cell damage
  • Cortical microvessels
  • Head injury
  • Human cerebral cortex
  • Morphological changes


Dive into the research topics of 'Morphological Features in Human Cortical Brain Microvessels after Head Injury: A Three-Dimensional and Immunocytochemical Study'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this