Subregional pathology of the amygdala complex and entorhinal region in surgical specimens from patients with pharmacoresistant temporal lobe epilepsy

Deniz M. Yilmazer-Hanke, Helmut K. Wolf, Johannes Schramm, Christian E. Elger, Otmar D. Wiestler, Ingmar Blümcke

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138 Scopus citations


The hippocampus, amygdala complex, and entorhinal region represent anatomically linked limbic structures of the mesiotemporal lobe. Chronic seizures and mnestic deficits in patients with pharmacoresistant mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) appear to correlate with distinct patterns of histopathological alterations in these areas. The complex anatomical organization of the amygdala and entorhinal region, however, render a detailed neuropathological evaluation of surgical specimens difficult. In this study, we present a combined cytoarchitectonical, pigmentarchitectonical, myelinarchitectonical, and immunohistochemical reconstruction of the amygdala, entorhinal region, and hippocampus from surgical TLE specimens (n = 20) in order to analyze their regional and cellular patterns of pathology. Anterior mesiotemporal lobes dissected in different spatial planes were obtained from 4 autopsy control patients and used for the characterization of neuroanatomical landmarks. Lateral, basal, and granular subnuclei of the amygdala were consistently identified in the surgical specimens. Major histopathological alterations included neuronal cell loss as revealed by extracellular lipofuscin accumulation, glial satellitosis, as well as cellular and fibrillary gliosis. The regional distribution of neuropathological changes varied considerably between different subnuclei but the lateral nucleus was more often involved than basal and granular nuclei. These amygdala nuclei appeared to be more severely affected compared to the adjacent entorhinal region. In addition, patients presenting with secondary generalized tonic-clonic seizures showed significantly more damage in mesiotemporal structures. Pathological alterations in the amygdala and entorhinal region were found to be associated with Ammon's horn sclerosis in most but not all cases. Our findings reveal the amygdala as a major target for epilepsy-associated neuronal cell damage. Significant variations in the lesional pattern among patients with chronic TLE would also be compatible with different spreading pathways of epileptogenic activity within the mesial temporal lobe.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)907-920
Number of pages14
JournalJournal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology
Issue number10
StatePublished - 2000

All Science Journal Classification (ASJC) codes

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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