Increase of nestin-immunoreactive neural precursor cells in the dentate gyrus of pediatric patients with early-onset temporal lobe epilepsy

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Abstract

A considerable potential for neurogenesis has been identified in the epileptic rat hippocampus. Here, we explore this feature in human patients suffering from chronic mesial temporal lobe epilepsy. Immunohistochemical detection of the neurodevelopmental antigen nestin was used to detect neural precursor cells, and cell-type specific markers were employed to study their histogenetic origin and potential for neuronal or glial differentiation. The ontogenetic regulation of nestin-positive precursors was established in human control brains (week 19 of gestation–15 years of age). A striking increase of nestin-immunoreactive cells within the hilus and dentate gyrus could be observed in a group of young patients with temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) and surgical treatment before age 2 years compared to adult TLE patients and controls. The cellular morphology and regional distribution closely resembled nestin-immunoreactive granule-cell progenitors transiently expressed during prenatal human hippocampus development. An increased Ki-67 proliferation index and clusters of supragranular nestin-immunoreactive cells within the molecular layer of the dentate gyrus were also noted in the group of young TLE patients. Confocal studies revealed colocalization of nestin and the βIII isoform of tubulin, indicating a neuronal fate for some of these cells. Vimentin was consistently expressed in nestin-immunoreactive cells, whereas cell lineage-specific markers, i.e., glial fibrillary acidic protein, MAP2, neurofilament protein, NeuN, or calbindin D-28k failed to colocalize. These findings provide evidence for increased neurogenesis in pediatric patients with early onset of temporal lobe epilepsy and/or point towards a delay in hippocampal maturation in a subgroup of patients with TLE. Hippocampus 2001;11:311–321. © 2001 Wiley-Liss, Inc.

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