In a large collection of human embryos (the Kyoto Collection of Human Embryos, Kyoto University), we encountered five cases with abnormal dilatation of the neural tube at the lumbosacral level. In these examples, the central canal was enlarged, and the roof plate of the neural tube was extremely thin and expanded. The mesenchymal tissue was scarce or lacking between the roof plate and the surface ectoderm. This type of anomaly was assumed to be formed after neural tube closure and may be an early form of spina bifida. In two of the cases, some abnormal cells were found ectopically between the thin roof plate and the surface ectoderm. Morphologically, these cells resembled those forming spinal ganglia and could be of the neural crest origin. Since neural crest cells are pluripotent and can differentiate into a variety of tissues, such ectopic cells might undergo abnormal differentiation into teratomatous tumors and/or lipomas, which are frequently associated with spina bifida. We also discuss the definition of spina bifida and the classification of neural tube defects from the embryological and pathogenic viewpoints and propose a new classification of neural tube defects.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine
- Clinical Neurology
- Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience