Journal of cerebral blood flow and metabolism : official journal of the International Society of Cerebral Blood Flow and Metabolism

Pericapillary haem-rich deposits: evidence for microhaemorrhages in aging human cerebral cortex.

PMID 15917745


In this post mortem study, we examined haem-rich deposits (HRDs) in patients with and without dementia, using a histochemical label (Prussian blue) to show haem, autofluorescence to detect red blood cells (RBCs), and immunohistochemistry for clotting-related factors and collagen IV. The patients studied had no clinical or post mortem evidence of macrovascular stroke. To allow examination of the spatial relationships between HRDs and the microvasculature, we cut 45-microm sections. Haem-rich deposits were small (<200 microm diameter). They were rare in younger (<50 years) patients but were more common in older (>70 years) patients, particularly in cerebral cortex, and were most abundant in cases with senile plaques. Wherever HRDs appeared they were perivascular and appeared to form around capillaries or small arterioles. Using a software package (Proxan) developed to outline vessels and HRDs, and to analyse the distances between them, a tight spatial correlation between HRDs and capillaries was shown. In addition, HRDs were rich in von Willebrand factor (vWF), fibrinogen, collagen IV and RBCs. These observations suggest that HRDs are the residua of capillary bleeds (microhaemorrhages), and that microhaemorrhages are a common feature of the aging cerebral cortex, particularly where plaque pathology is present.