Whilst examining the variation with age of the nerve fibre content of the cardiac conduction system (CCS), using an immunocytochemical approach, it became evident that in two sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) cases there was a selective lack of S100 positive nerve fibres in the atrioventricular (AV) node and His bundle. In the present study therefore, the examination of CCS with S100 was extended to a further five SIDS cases and three cases of sudden explained death. Also, in addition to S100 - which selectively marks Schwann cells associated with both myelinated and non-myelinated nerves - PGP 9.5 (protein gene product) was used to reveal the presence of nerve axonal elements associated with the CCS. The results showed a uniform presence of S100 and PGP 9.5 positive nerve fibres in the sinoatrial (SA) node, the AV node and His bundle tissue of all three control cases. In contrast, five out of seven SIDS cases showed a uniform lack of staining with these markers in the AV node and His bundle tissue, whilst in the two remaining cases it was present in greatly diminished amounts. Staining in the SA node, although present in all seven cases, was reduced when compared with the control cases. This is the first time the CCS of SIDS cases has been studied with immunocytochemical markers of nerve elements. The overall results taken in conjunction with the epidemiology of SIDS suggest that the lack of AV node and His bundle innervation most probably reflects a delay in the development or maturation of the nerve elements of the CCS, similar to that noted for other parts of the central and peripheral nervous systems in SIDS.
- Cardiac conduction system
- PGP 9.5
- Sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS)
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Pathology and Forensic Medicine