Hippocampal granule cell dispersion: A non-specific finding in pediatric patients with no history of seizures

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Abstract

Chronic epilepsy has been associated with hippocampal abnormalities like neuronal loss, gliosis and granule cell dispersion. The granule cell layer of a normal human hippocampal dentate gyrus is traditionally regarded as a compact neuron-dense layer. Histopathological studies of surgically resected or autopsied hippocampal samples primarily from temporal lobe epilepsy patients, as well as animal models of epilepsy, describe variable patterns of granule cell dispersion including focal cell clusters, broader thick segments, and bilamination or "tram-tracking". Although most studies have implicated granule cell dispersion as a specific feature of chronic epilepsy, very few "non-seizure" controls were included in these published investigations. Our retrospective survey of 147 cadaveric pediatric human hippocampi identified identical morphological spectra of granule cell dispersion in both normal and seizure-affected brains. Moreover, sections across the entire antero-posterior axis of a control cadaveric hippocampus revealed repetitive occurrence of different morphologies of the granule cell layer - compact, focally disaggregated and bilaminar. The results indicate that granule cell dispersion is within the spectrum of normal variation and not unique to patients with epilepsy. We speculate that sampling bias has been responsible for an erroneous dogma, which we hope to rectify with this investigation.

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Roy, A., Millen, K. J., & Kapur, R. P. (2020). Hippocampal granule cell dispersion: A non-specific finding in pediatric patients with no history of seizures. Acta Neuropathologica Communications, 8(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s40478-020-00928-3

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