• Amygdala;
  • Epileptogenesis;
  • Hippocampus;
  • Magnetic resonance imaging;
  • Perirhinal cortex

Summary: Purpose: Whether status epilepticus (SE) in early infancy, rather than the underlying illness, leads to temporal lobe neurodegeneration and volume reduction remains controversial.

Methods: SE was induced with LiCl-pilocarpine in P12 rats. To assess acute neuronal damage, brains (five controls, five with SE) were investigated at 8 h after SE by using silver and Fluoro-Jade B staining. Some brains from the early phase were processed for electron microscopy. To assess chronic changes, brains from nine controls and 13 rats with SE at P12 were analyzed after 3 months by using histology and magnetic resonance imaging (MRI).

Results: MRI analysis of the temporal lobe of adult animals with SE at P12 indicated that 23% of the rats had hippocampal, 15% had amygdaloid, and 31% had perirhinal volume reduction. Histologic analysis of sections from the MR-imaged brains correlated with the MRI data. Analysis of neurodegeneration 8 h after SE by using both silver and Fluoro-Jade B staining revealed degenerating neurons located in the same temporal lobe regions as the volume reduction in chronic samples. Electron microscopic analysis revealed irreversible ultrastructural alterations. As with the chronic histologic and MRI findings, interanimal variability was seen in the distribution and severity of acute damage.

Conclusions: Our data indicate that SE at P12 can cause acute neurodegeneration in the hippocampus as well as in the adjacent temporal lobe. It is likely that acute neuronal death contributes to volume reduction in temporal lobe regions that is detected with MRI in a subpopulation of animals in adulthood.