Ultrastructure of the human spinal arachnoid mater and dura mater
Vandenabeele, F.; Creemers, J.; Lambrichts, I.
Journal of Anatomy 189: 417-430
Human spinal dura and arachnoid, obtained during neurosurgical operations, were studied by transmission electron microscopy. The ultrastructure of spinal meninges largely conformed to the morphology of the cranial meninges, but some minor differences were detected. The dura was composed of an outermost loosely arranged fibroelastic layer, a middle basically fibrous portion and an innermost cellular layer (dural border cell layer). The dural border cell layer was characterised by multiple interdigitating cell processes, no extracellular collagen, significant extracellular spaces and few cell junctions. Paravascular vesiculated nerve profiles were encountered within the fibroadipose epidural tissue. The arachnoid was composed of an outermost portion (arachnoid barrier cell layer), presenting tightly packed cells, numerous tight junctions and no extracellullar collagen. In view of its numerous tight junctions, the arachnoid barrier cell layer is considered to represent an effective morphological and physiological meningeal barrier between the cerebrospinal fluid in the subarachnoid space and the blood circulation in the dura. The arachnoid barrier layer was always characterised by a distinct continuous basal lamina on its inner surface towards the innermost collagenous portion of the arachnoid (arachnoid reticular cell layer). The interweaving arachnoid trabecular cells within this layer possessed numerous mitochondria and were anchored to the inner surface of the arachnoid barrier cell layer by desmosomes. An additional layer of flattened branching cells was demonstrated along the inner surface of the arachnoid reticular cell layer and assumed to be an 'arachnoid border cell layer'. Morphological data suggest that the dura and arachnoid closely adhere at spinal levels in man without any naturally occurring 'subdural space'. However, structurally, the dural border cell layer forms a weak cell layer at the dura-arachnoid continuum that is easily disrupted. The creation of an artifactual subdural space at spinal levels is discussed.