Mossy fiber synaptic reorganization in the epileptic human temporal lobe



The distribution of the mossy fiber synaptic terminals was examined using the Timm histochemical method in surgically excised hippocampus and dentate gyrus from patients who underwent lobectomy of the anterior part of the temporal lobe for refractory partial complex epilepsy. The dentate gyrus of epileptic patients demonstrated intense Timm granules and abundant mossy fiber synaptic terminals in the supragranular region and the inner molecular layer. In contrast, the dentate gyrus of presenescent nonepileptic primates demonstrated no Timm granules in the supragranular region. In nonepileptic senescent primates, occasional very sparse supragranuler Timm granules were observed that were easily distinguished from the dense pattern observed in association with human epilepsy. The results are morphological evidence of mossy fiber synaptic reorganization in the temporal lobe of epileptic humans, and suggest the intriguing possibility that mossy fiber sprouting and synaptic reorganization induced by repeated partial complex seizures may play a role in human epilepsy.