Intrauterine growth restriction (IUGR) can lead to adverse neurodevelopmental sequelae in postnatal life. However, the effects of IUGR on the cerebellum are still to be fully elucidated. A major determinant of growth and development of the cerebellum is proliferation and subsequent migration of cerebellar granule cells. Our objective was to determine whether IUGR, induced by chronic placental insufficiency (CPI) in guinea pigs, results in abnormal cerebellar development due to deficits suggestive of impaired granule cell proliferation and/or migration. CPI was induced by unilateral ligation of the uterine artery at mid-gestation, producing growth-restricted (GR) foetuses at 52 and 60 days of gestation (dg), and neonates at 1 week postnatal age (term approx. 67 dg). Controls were from sham-operated animals. In GR foetuses compared with controls at 52 dg, the external granular layer (EGL) width and internal granular layer (IGL) area were similar. In GR foetuses compared with controls at 60 dg: (a) the EGL width was greater (p < 0.005); (b) the IGL area was smaller (p < 0.005); (c) the density of Ki67-negative (postmitotic) granule cells in the EGL was greater (p < 0.01); (d) the somal area of Purkinje cells was reduced (p < 0.005), and (e) the linear density of Bergmann glia was similar. The EGL width in GR foetuses at 60 dg was comparable to that of 52 dg control and GR foetuses. The pattern of p27-immunoreactivity in the EGL was the inverse of Ki67-immunoreactivity at both foetal ages; there was no difference between control and GR foetuses at either age in the width of p27-immunoreactivity, or in the percentage of the EGL width that it occupied. In the molecular layer of GR neonates compared with controls there was an increase in the areal density of granule cells (p < 0.05) and in the percentage of migrating to total number of granule cells (p < 0.01) at 1 week but not at 60 dg (p > 0.05). Thus, we found no specific evidence that IUGR affects granule cell proliferation, but it alters the normal program of migration to the IGL and, in addition, the development of Purkinje cells. Such alterations will likely affect the development of appropriate circuitry and have implications for cerebellar function.
- Chronic hypoxia
- Chronic placental insufficiency
- External granular layer
- Foetal brain development