Authors: Nataša Jovanov Milošević1, 2, Miloš Judaš1, Eleonora Aronica3,4, Ivica Kostovic1

Prog Brain Res. 2014;214:159-78. doi: 10.1016/B978-0-444-63486-3.00007-4.


The neural extracellular matrix (ECM) provides a supportive framework to differentiating cells and their processes, and regulates morphogenetic events by spatially and temporally relevant localization of signaling molecules and by direct signaling via receptor and/or co-receptor-mediated action. Embryonic and fetal human brain contains large amount and diversity of extracellular matrix components, which is especially prominent in the transient subplate zone, in the crossroads of axonal pathways, at the developing cortex-white matter interface and in the marginal zone. Perinatal and postnatal reorganization of these tissue compartments extends into the second year of life. Developmental changes in the amount and composition of the extracellular matrix (as well as changes in fibre architectonics) are significant for plastic responses to damage as well as for changes in magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) signal intensity of the fetal and early postnatal human brain.
In this chapter we discuss the expression pattern of major components of the fetal ECM of the human brain and the role they play during laminar and connectivity development in healthy brain as well as in the neurodevelopmental disorders. The aim of the chapter is to elucidate ECM-related developmental events as potential models of successful functional recovery after injury and to explore its relevance for diagnostic and therapeutic approaches.