Background: Intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH) and post-hemorrhagic hydrocephalus (PHH) have a complex pathophysiology involving inflammatory response, ventricular zone and cell–cell junction disruption, and choroid-plexus (ChP) hypersecretion. Increased cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) cytokines, extracellular matrix proteins, and blood metabolites have been noted in IVH/PHH, but osmolality and electrolyte disturbances have not been evaluated in human infants with these conditions. We hypothesized that CSF total protein, osmolality, electrolytes, and immune cells increase in PHH. Methods: CSF samples were obtained from lumbar punctures of control infants and infants with IVH prior to the development of PHH and any neurosurgical intervention. Osmolality, total protein, and electrolytes were measured in 52 infants (18 controls, 10 low grade (LG) IVH, 13 high grade (HG) IVH, and 11 PHH). Serum electrolyte concentrations, and CSF and serum cell counts within 1-day of clinical sampling were obtained from clinical charts. Frontal occipital horn ratio (FOR) was measured for estimating the degree of ventriculomegaly. Dunn or Tukey’s post-test ANOVA analysis were used for pair-wise comparisons. Results: CSF osmolality, sodium, potassium, and chloride were elevated in PHH compared to control (p = 0.012 − < 0.0001), LGIVH (p = 0.023 − < 0.0001), and HGIVH (p = 0.015 − 0.0003), while magnesium and calcium levels were higher compared to control (p = 0.031) and LGIVH (p = 0.041). CSF total protein was higher in both HGIVH and PHH compared to control (p = 0.0009 and 0.0006 respectively) and LGIVH (p = 0.034 and 0.028 respectively). These differences were not reflected in serum electrolyte concentrations nor calculated osmolality across the groups. However, quantitatively, CSF sodium and chloride contributed 86% of CSF osmolality change between control and PHH; and CSF osmolality positively correlated with CSF sodium (r, p = 0.55,0.0015), potassium (r, p = 0.51,0.0041), chloride (r, p = 0.60,0.0004), but not total protein across the entire patient cohort. CSF total cells (p = 0.012), total nucleated cells (p = 0.0005), and percent monocyte (p = 0.016) were elevated in PHH compared to control. Serum white blood cell count increased in PHH compared to control (p = 0.042) but there were no differences in serum cell differential across groups. CSF total nucleated cells also positively correlated with CSF osmolality, sodium, potassium, and total protein (p = 0.025 − 0.0008) in the whole cohort. Conclusions: CSF osmolality increased in PHH, largely driven by electrolyte changes rather than protein levels. However, serum electrolytes levels were unchanged across groups. CSF osmolality and electrolyte changes were correlated with CSF total nucleated cells which were also increased in PHH, further suggesting PHH is a neuro-inflammatory condition.
- CSF electrolytes
- CSF osmolality
- Cerebrospinal fluid (CSF)
- Intraventricular hemorrhage (IVH)
- Post-hemorrhagic hydrocephalus (PHH)