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Acta Neuropathol. 2005 Jul;110(1):1-11. Epub 2005 Jun 17.

Neuropathological spectrum of cortical dysplasia in children with severe focal epilepsies.

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Department of Neuropathology and Neuropathological Reference Center for Epilepsy Surgery, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg, Germany.


Cortical dysplasias comprise a variable spectrum of clinical, neuroradiological and histopathological findings. We report about a cohort of 25 pediatric patients (mean age 8.1+/-4.8 years) with severe drug-resistant early onset focal epilepsies (mean duration 2.1+/-0.4 years), mental/psychomotor retardation, and multilobar epileptogenesis. Compared to age-matched biopsy controls, microscopical inspection of neurosurgically resected specimens revealed dysplastic neurons with/without balloon cells in only 7 patients. According to Palmini's classification system, these lesions were categorized as focal cortical dysplasia (FCD) type II. All other patients presented with rather subtle but statistically significant neuroanatomical abnormalities. We identified increased numbers of ectopic neurons in white matter and cortical gliosis. However, most intriguing was our finding of a microcolumnar arrangement of cortical neurons in layer III. These microcolumns can be statistically defined as vertical lining of more than eight neurons (two times standard deviation of cell countings obtained from controls). In addition, neuronal perikarya were significantly smaller in epilepsy patients. Although histological abnormalities occurring during postnatal maturation of the brain challenge any neuropathological classification in this group of young patients, we propose that these findings are classified according to FCD type I. Our observations support a concept compatible with regional loss of high-order brain organization.

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