Differential Neuronal and Glial Relations with Parameters of Ictal Discharge in Mesial Temporal Lobe Epilepsy


Address correspondence and reprint requests to Dr. S. S. Spencer at Yale University School of Medicine, Department of Neurology, P.O. Box 208018, New Haven, CT 06520-8018, U.S.A.


Summary: Purpose: EEG recordings of spontaneous seizures should provide clues to epilepsy pathogenesis and pathology. We examined onset, propagation, and termination characteristics of spontaneous seizures recorded by intracranial EEG in temporal lobe (TL) epilepsy in relation to neuronal, glial, and synaptic changes in the same tissue.

Methods: All of our patients with intracranial EEG recordings of spontaneous TL seizure onset, subsequent TL resection, and quantitative pathologic analysis of resected tissue were included. Seizure parameters were mean time to initial propagation, mean total electrical duration, uniformity of seizure-onset distribution and location, and percentage of seizures with spiking onset per patient. Tissue was analyzed for glial and neuronal density in hippocampal fields and presence of sprouting. Outcome was classified as seizure free or not.

Results: All seizures with onset in resected TL in 62 patients were analyzed. The percentage of each patient's seizures with spike onsets was significantly correlated with glial density in CA3 (p < 0.01). Initial propagation time was significantly and inversely correlated with neuronal density in CA4 (p < 0.02). Electrical seizure duration was significantly correlated with glial density in CA2 and CA3 (p < 0.02). Neuronal and glial density were significantly (and inversely) related to one another only in CA1 (p < 0.001). Outcome was most significantly related to uniform hippocampal seizure onset. Presence or absence of sprouting was not significantly related to outcome or any EEG measure.

Conclusions: These results suggest both glia and neurons exert independent influences on the expression of ictal discharges in seizures of medial TL onset. Glial density influenced interictal-ictal transition, whereas neuronal density influenced seizure propagation. These findings may have implications for pathogenesis.