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J Neurosci. 1993 Apr;13(4):1511-22.

Single mossy fiber axonal systems of human dentate granule cells studied in hippocampal slices from patients with temporal lobe epilepsy.

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  • 1Brain Research Institute, School of Medicine, University of California, Los Angeles 90024-1761.

Erratum in

  • J Neurosci 1993 Jun;13(6):followi.


Previous histological and immunocytochemical studies suggest that reorganization of the dentate granule cell axons, the mossy fibers, can occur in epileptic human hippocampus (Sutula et al., 1989; Houser et al., 1990; Babb et al., 1991) and in animal models of epilepsy (Tauck and Nadler, 1985; Sutula et al., 1988; Cronin et al., 1992). However, neuroanatomical analyses of the trajectory and morphology of reorganized axons are not yet available. The present study was conducted to investigate single dentate granule cell axonal systems in human epileptic hippocampus. Individual mossy fibers were directly visualized by injecting a tracer (biocytin or Lucifer yellow) intracellularly in hippocampal slices prepared from temporal lobes that were surgically removed from patients for treatment of intractable epilepsy. Two major arborization patterns were identified: (1) the parent axons extended to and coursed through the hilus toward CA3, leaving collaterals along their paths in the hilus (N = 19 neurons); (2) in addition to the aforementioned axonal system, collateral(s) branched from the parent axon near the soma and projected to the granule cell layer and molecular layer, forming an aberrant axonal pathway (N = 9 neurons). These aberrant collaterals bore large boutons similar to those of the hilar axons and formed extensive plexuses in the granule cell layer and/or in the molecular layer. The summed length of collaterals in the granular/molecular layers was 1110.8 microns on average, which was one-fourth of the total summed length of the mossy fibers (3698.5 microns on average). The size of the somata in neurons that had aberrant collaterals was significantly larger than that of neurons without such collaterals (p < 0.025). In four cases, filopodium-like fine processes were present near the axon hillock and proximal parts of the parent axon, suggesting that the aberrant collateral formation might be an ongoing process in these tissues. The lack of control slices from normal living human hippocampus makes it difficult to assess to what extent the present findings are epilepsy associated. However, the presence of aberrant mossy fiber collaterals in the hippocampi used in the present study has been confirmed by Timm's staining and/or dynorphin immunohistochemistry in comparison with nonepileptic autopsy material, indicating its relation to epilepsy (Babb et al., 1991, 1992). At present, there seems to be a consensus that the projection of mossy fiber collaterals to the supragranular layer is a rare occurrence in normal rats (Lorento de NĂ³, 1934; Claiborne et al., 1986; Seress et al., 1991; present study), normal monkeys (Seress et al., 1991), and normal humans (Houser et al., 1990).(ABSTRACT TRUNCATED AT 400 WORDS)

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