Basic fibroblast growth factor (bFGF), a neurotrophic factor in the CNS, is expressed at high levels in response to seizures or strokes. We examined the expression of bFGF during experimental bacterial meningitis and the levels of bFGF in the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of children with bacterial meningitis. For the experimental study, a mouse model of meningitis was established by intracranial injection of Streptococcus pneumoniae. Twenty- four hours after induced meningitis, the brains were sectioned and stained immunohistochemically for bFGF. Neutrophils and macrophages infiltrating the leptomeninges and the ventricles exhibited strong bFGF immunoreactivity. The neurons in the areas adjacent to the inflamed ventricles also showed enhanced bFGF expression. For the clinical study, we used an enzyme immunoassay to measure bFGF in CSF in 18 children with bacterial meningitis, 12 with aseptic meningitis, and 18 controls. The CSF levels of bFGF were twice as high in children with bacterial meningitis (medians 6.75-7.21 pg/mL) compared with subjects (2.65 pg/mL, p < 0.0001, respectively). In patients with bacterial meningitis who survived, CSF bFGF decreased significantly after 24-50 h of antibiotic therapy (p < 0.0005). Patients who developed major sequelae or died had much higher levels of CSF bFGF than those without (134.9 pg/mL versus 7.38 pg/mL, p < 0.05). These findings of enhanced immunoreactivity of hFGF in experimental bacterial meningitis and an association of CSF levels of bFGF with disease severity in childhood bacterial meningitis suggest a biologic role for this neurotrophic factor in the pathophysiology of bacterial meningitis.
All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes
- Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health