Neuropathology of the Guillain-Mollaret Triangle (Dentato-Rubro-Olivary Network) in Sudden Unexplained Perinatal Death and SIDS

Anna Maria Lavezzi*, Melissa Corna, Luigi Matturri, Franco Santoro
Department of Surgical, Reconstructive and Diagnostic Sciences - “Lino Rossi” Research Center for the study and prevention of unexpected perinatal death and SIDS, University of Milan, Italy

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© Lavezzi et al.; Licensee Bentham Open.

open-access license: This is an open access article licensed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution Non-Commercial License ( which permits unrestricted, non-commercial use, distribution and reproduction in any medium, provided the work is properly cited.

* Address correspondence to this author at the “Lino Rossi” Research Center, Department of Surgical, Reconstructive and Diagnostic Sciences, University of Milan, Via della Commenda, 19, 20122 Milan, Italy; Tel: +39-02-50320821; Fax: +39-02-50320823; E-mail:


The present study was undertaken to evaluate the possible alterations of the triangle of Guillain and Mollaret (G-Mt), a neuronal brainstem/cerebellum network (from the dentate nucleus to red nucleus and inferior olivary nucleus) already known for its involvement in the pathogenesis of the palatal myoclonus, in sudden unexplained perinatal and infant death. In 44 cases of perinatal and infant death victims, aged from 26 gestational weeks to 10 months of life, we investigated, besides the histological morphology of the three nuclei, the c-fos and apoptotic expression, as well as the possible effects elicited by maternal cigarette smoking.

A significant increase of lesions (hypoplasia and/or increased c-fos and apoptotic neuronal immunopositivity) of the three nuclei was found in unexplained death victims, compared with age-matched controls. These alterations were related to maternal cigarette smoking habit.

We postulated that the G-Mt is an important network involved in the pathogenesis of a wide spectrum of pathological manifestations and that maternal smoking during pregnancy can exert an adverse influence on this complex, even leading to sudden death in vulnerable periods of perinatal or infant development.

Keywords: Dentate nucleus, Inferior olivary nucleus, Red nucleus, Palatal myoclonus, Maternal cigarette smoking, SIDS, Unexplained perinatal death.