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Abstract

Human temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is associated with cellular alterations (eg, hilar cell death, neurogenesis, and granule cell dispersion) in the dentate gyrus but their underlying molecular mechanism are not known. We previously demonstrated increased expression of cystatin C, a protease inhibitor linked to both neurodegeneration and neurogenesis, during epileptogenesis in the rat hippocampus. Here, we investigated cystatin C expression in the dentate gyrus in chronic epilepsy and its association with neuronal loss and neurogenesis. In both rats with epilepsy and human patients with TLE, cystatin C expression was increased in glial cells in the molecular layer of the dentate gyrus, being most prominent in cases with granule cell dispersion. In patients with TLE, high cystatin C expression associated with greater numbers of polysialylated neural cell adhesion molecule–positive newborn cells in the molecular layer, although the overall number was decreased, indicating that the newborn cells migrate to abnormal locations in the epileptic dentate gyrus. These data thus demonstrate that cystatin C expression is altered during the chronic phase of epilepsy and suggest that cystatin C plays a role in network reorganization in the epileptic dentate gyrus, especially in granule cell dispersion and guidance of migrating newborn granule cells. Ann Neurol 2005;58:211–223