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Ann Neurol. 1994 Jun;35(6):640-54.

The functional organization of the hippocampal dentate gyrus and its relevance to the pathogenesis of temporal lobe epilepsy.

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Neurology Research Center, Helen Hayes Hospital, New York State Department of Health, West Haverstraw 10993.


Temporal lobe seizures are frequently associated with a characteristic pattern of hippocampal pathology (hippocampal sclerosis), as well as pathology in other temporal lobe structures. Despite more than a century of study, the relationship between pathology and epileptogenesis remains unclear. Endfolium sclerosis, which is characterized by the loss of dentate hilar neurons that are presumed to govern dentate granule cell excitability, is evident whenever hippocampal sclerosis exists and is the only temporal lobe pathology in some patients. Because prolonged seizures or head trauma produce endfolium sclerosis and granule cell hyperexcitability in experimental animals, hilar neuron loss may be the common pathological denominator and primary network defect underlying development of a hippocampal seizure "focus." Physiological studies suggest that vulnerable hilar mossy cells normally excite neurons that mediate granule cell inhibition. Recent anatomical studies indicate that the axons of mossy cells project longitudinally, out of the lamellar plane in which their cell bodies lie. If mossy cells in one lamella excite inhibitory neurons in surrounding lamellae, neocortical excitation of one segment of the granule cell layer may produce lateral inhibition and limit neocortical excitation to the targeted lamella. In patients who have had status epilepticus, prolonged febrile seizures, head trauma, or encephalitis, loss of dentate mossy cells may deafferent inhibitory neurons, render them "dormant," and thereby disinhibit an enlarged expanse of the granule cell layer. The selective loss of neurons that normally govern lateral inhibition in the dentate gyrus may cause functional delamination of the granule cell layer and result in synchronous, multilamellar discharges in response to cortical stimuli. Repetitive seizures may ultimately produce the full pattern of hippocampal and mesial temporal sclerosis by destroying cells within the seizure circuit that were not injured irreversibly by the initial insult. Thus, hippocampal pathology may be both the cause and effect of seizures that originate in the temporal lobe.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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