Skip Navigation LinksHome > November 2003 - Volume 62 - Issue 11 > Serotonergic Brainstem Abnormalities in Northern Plains Indi...
Journal of Neuropathology & Experimental Neurology:
Regular Article

Serotonergic Brainstem Abnormalities in Northern Plains Indians with the Sudden Infant Death Syndrome

KINNEY, HANNAH C. MD; RANDALL, LESLIE L. RN, MPH; SLEEPER, LYNN A. ED SC; WILLINGER, MARIAN PHD; BELLIVEAU, RICHARD A. AB; ZEC, NATASA MD, PHD; RAVA, LUCIANA A. BA; DOMINICI, LAURA BA; IYASU, SOLOMON MB, BS; RANDALL, BRADLEY MD; HABBE, DONALD MD; WILSON, HARRY MD; MANDELL, FREDERICK MD; MCCLAIN, MARY RN, MS; WELTY, THOMAS K. MD

Collapse Box

Abstract

The rate of the sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) among American Indian infants in the Northern Plains is almost 6 times higher than in U.S. white infants. In a study of infant mortality among Northern Plains Indians, we tested the hypothesis that receptor binding abnormalities to the neurotransmitter serotonin (5-HT) in SIDS cases, compared with autopsied controls, occur in regions of the medulla oblongata that contain 5-HT neurons and that are critical for the regulation of cardiorespiration and central chemosensitivity during sleep, i.e. the medullary 5-HT system. Tritiated-lysergic acid diethylamide binding to 5-HT1A-D and 5-HT2 receptors was measured in 19 brainstem nuclei in 23 SIDS and 6 control infants using tissue receptor autoradiography. Binding in the arcuate nucleus, a part of the medullary 5-HT system along the ventral surface, in the SIDS infants (mean age-adjusted binding 7.1 ± 0.8 fmol/mg tissue, n = 23) was significantly lower than in controls (mean age-adjusted binding 13.1 ± 1.6 fmol/mg tissue, n = 5) (p = 0.003). Binding also demonstrated significant diagnosis × age interactions (p < 0.04) in 4 other nuclei that are components of the 5-HT system. These data suggest that medullary 5-HT dysfunction can lead to sleep-related, sudden death in affected SIDS infants, and confirm the same binding abnormalities reported by us in a larger dataset of non-American Indian SIDS and control infants. This study also links 5-HT abnormalities in the arcuate nucleus with exposure to adverse prenatal exposures, i.e. cigarette smoking (p = 0.011) and alcohol (p = 0.075), during the periconceptional period or throughout pregnancy. Prenatal exposure to cigarette smoke and/or alcohol may contribute to abnormal fetal medullary 5-HT development in SIDS infants.

© 2003 American Association of Neuropathologists, Inc

Login

Search for Similar Articles
You may search for similar articles that contain these same keywords or you may modify the keyword list to augment your search.