Immunocytochemical investigation on dysplastic human tissue from epileptic patients

Roberto Spreafico, Basile Pasquier, Lorella Minotti, Rita Garbelli, Philippe Kahane, Sylvie Grand, Alim L. Benabid, Laura Tassi, Giuliano Avanzini, Giorgio Battaglia, Claudio Munari

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


In this report we describe three patients with developmental cortical abnormalities (generally referred as cortical dysplasia), revealed by MRI and operated on for intractable epilepsy. Tissue, removed for strictly therapeutic reasons, was defined as the epileptogenic area by electroclinical data and stereo EEG (SEEG) recordings. Tissue samples were processed initially for histology, and selected sections were further processed for immunocytochemical investigation in order to determine whether the region of cortical dysplasia was co-extensive with the epileptogenic area. In two patients with nodular heterotopia, disorganized aggregates of neurons (as revealed by neuronal cytoskeletal markers) were found within the nodules. Both pyramidal and local circuit neurons were present in the nodules, but no reactive gliosis was present. When nodules reached the cortex, the cortical layers were disrupted. In the patient with localized cortical dysplasia, a complete disorganization of the cortical lamination was found, and numerous neurons were also present in the white matter. Disoriented pyramidal neurons weakly labelled with cytoskeletal neuronal markers were also present but no cytomegalic cells were found. One of the patients with nodular heterotopia underwent only partial resection of both the 'epileptogenic area' and of the lesion; this patient still presents with seizures. The other patient with nodular heterotopia is seizure-free after a complete lesionectomy and excision of the epileptogenic area. The third patient, with focal cortical dysplasia, had two surgeries; she became seizure-free only after the excision of the epileptogenic area detected by SEEG recording. The present data suggest that the dysplastic areas identified by MRI should not be considered as the only place of origin of the ictal discharges. From the neuropathological point of view, the focal cortical dysplasia can be considered as a pure form of migrational disorder. However, the presence of large aggregates of neurons interspersed within the white matter, in the subcortical nodular heterotopia, suggests that a defect of neuronal migration could be associated with an exuberant production of neuroblasts and/or a disruption of mechanisms for naturally occurring cell death.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)34-48
Number of pages15
JournalEpilepsy Research
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Sept 1 1998


  • Cortex
  • Dysplasia
  • Epilepsy surgery
  • Neuropathology
  • Periventricular heterotopia

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology
  • Pediatrics, Perinatology, and Child Health
  • Neurology


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