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Keywords:

  • dentate gyrus;
  • epilepsy;
  • human hippocampus;
  • neurite growth inhibitors;
  • neuronal plasticity;
  • oligodendrocytes;
  • reticulon

Abstract

Mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is associated with pronounced anatomical and biochemical changes in the hippocampal formation including extensive neurodegeneration, reorganization of mossy fibres and sprouting of interneurons. Although the anatomical features and some of the physiological consequences of hippocampal remodeling have been well documented, the molecular mechanisms underlying the profound and orientated outgrowth of hippocampal neurons in TLE are not yet understood. The reticulon protein Nogo-A has been associated with an inhibitory action on axon growth and plasticity. Using immunohistochemistry and in situ hybridization, we investigated the expression of Nogo-A in specimens obtained at surgery from patients with TLE compared with those obtained from autopsy controls. In control specimens, Nogo-A immunoreactivity and mRNA were mainly confined to oligodendrocytes. Only ≈ 40% of the specimens revealed low expression of Nogo-A mRNA in neurons. In contrast, in TLE patients with and without Ammon's horn sclerosis, Nogo-A mRNA and immunoreactivity were markedly up-regulated in most neurons (3.6- and 4.4-fold increases in Nogo-A mRNA in granule cells of sclerotic and nonsclerotic specimens) and their processes throughout the hippocampal formation. Similar elevations in Nogo-A mRNA and protein levels were determined by quantitative RT-PCR and Western blotting. Since Nogo-A expression was also up-regulated in specimens without hippocampal sclerosis, it may be induced by seizures prior to progressing neurodegeneration.