The temporal and spatial expression of myelin basic protein in the first and second trimester human foetal spinal cord and brainstem from 9 to 20 gestational weeks was determined by immunocytochemistry in sections of cervical, thoracic and lumbosacral levels from 41 human foetal spinal cords and ten brainstems. Myelin basic protein-positive oligodendrocytes were observed peripheral to the ependyma at 9-10 gestational weeks. Oligodendrocytes expressing myelin basic protein were seen at 10-12 gestational weeks in the anterior and lateral funiculi. Myelin basic protein was detected later in the posterior funiculi than in the anterolateral white matter and most spinal cord tracts could not be identified by means of variation in myelin basic protein expression. Mylein basic protein was found in the midline of the brainstem at ten gestational weeks and spread laterally during the second trimester. We conclude that in the human foetal spinal cord, myelin basic protein is present by 10 gestational weeks in the anterolateral cervical spinal cord and midline of the brainstem. It is expressed in a rostral-to-caudal and anterolateral-to-posterior manner in most tracts of the spinal cord. However, an exception to these findings is that the fasciculus gracilis, upon developing into a defined region, had more myelin basic protein-positive cells at the lumbar level than in more rostral regions. Definition of the kinetics of myelin basic protein expression in the normal human foetal spinal cord provides a baseline for study of aberrant myelination and demyelination.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Cell Biology