• Iron;
  • Hippocampus;
  • Entorhinal cortex;
  • Microglia;
  • Immunostaining;
  • Epileptogenesis;
  • Progression

Summary: Purpose: Iron accumulation in the brain has been associated with neurodegenerative disorders, including epilepsy. In our previous SAGE study, we showed that ferritin, an iron-storage protein, was one of the genes (Ferritin-H) that showed overexpression before the chronic epileptic phase. In this study we used ferritin as indicator for disturbed iron homeostasis to acquire insight into whether this could play a role in the pathogenesis of temporal lobe epilepsy.

Methods: With immunocytochemistry, we studied the regional and cellular distribution of ferritin protein in an animal model for temporal lobe epilepsy in which spontaneous seizures develop a few weeks after electrically induced status epilepticus (SE).

Results: Increased ferritin expression was observed in regions known to be vulnerable to cell death, mainly in reactive microglial cells of epileptic rats. Ferritin expression after SE was initially high, especially throughout the hippocampus, but decreased over time. In the chronic epileptic phase, it was still upregulated in regions where extensive cell loss occurs during the early acute and latent period. Within the parahippocampal region, the most persistent ferritin overexpression was present in microglial cells in layer III of the medial entorhinal area. The upregulation was most extensive in rats that had developed a progressive form of epilepsy with frequent seizures (approximately five to 10 seizures per day).

Conclusions: The fact that ferritin upregulation is still present in specific limbic regions in chronic epileptic rats, when neuronal loss is absent or minimal, suggests a role of iron in the pathogenesis and progression of epilepsy.