• cortical dysplasia;
  • epilepsy;
  • cytomegalic neurons;
  • electrophysiology;
  • calcium imaging


The mechanisms responsible for seizure generation in cortical dysplasia (CD) are unknown, but morphologically abnormal cells could contribute. We examined the passive and active membrane properties of cells from pediatric CD in vitro. Normal- and abnormal-appearing cells were identified morphologically by using infrared videomicroscopy and biocytin in slices from children with mild to severe CD. Electrophysiological properties were assessed with patch clamp recordings. Four groups of abnormal-appearing cells were observed. The first consisted of large, pyramidal cells probably corresponding to cytomegalic neurons. Under conditions that reduced the contribution of K+ conductances, these cells generated large Ca2+ currents and influx when depolarized. When these cells were acutely dissociated, peak Ca2+ currents and densities were greater in cytomegalic compared with normal-appearing pyramidal neurons. The second group included large, nonpyramidal cells with atypical somatodendritic morphology that could correspond to “balloon” cells. These cells did not display active voltage- or ligand-gated currents and did not appear to receive synaptic inputs. The third group included misoriented and dysmorphic pyramidal neurons, and the fourth group consisted of immature-looking pyramidal neurons. Electrophysiologically, neurons in these latter two groups did not display significant abnormalities when compared with normal-appearing pyramidal neurons. We conclude that there are cells with abnormal intrinsic membrane properties in pediatric CD. Among the four groups of cells, the most abnormal electrophysiological properties were displayed by cytomegalic neurons and large cells with atypical morphology. Cytomegalic neurons could play an important role in the generation of epileptic activity. © 2003 Wiley-Liss, Inc.