Epileptic Disorders


The genesis of epileptogenic cerebral heterotopia: clues from experimental models Volume 5, numéro 2, June 2003

Departments of Experimental Neurophysiology (1) and Epileptology, and Pediatric Neurology (2), Neurological Institute "C. Besta", Milano, Italy

The pre‐natal administration of methylazoxymethanol acetate (MAM) in rats is able to induce cerebral heterotopia that share striking similarities with those observed in human periventricular nodular heterotopia, a cerebral dysgenesis frequently associated with drug‐resistant focal seizures. In the present study, we investigated the mode of neurogenesis in cerebral heterotopia of MAM‐treated rats, by analyzing post‐natal cytoarchitectural features and time of neurogenesis using bromodeoxyuridine immunocytochemistry. The cytoarchitectural analysis demonstrated the existence, in the early post‐natal period, of white matter cellular bands in close anatomical relationship with the heterotopia, which most likely serve as a reservoir of young, migrating neurons for the newly forming heterotopia. The birth dating analysis demonstrated that the period of generation of neurons within the heterotopia and adjacent white matter bands, was extended in comparison to corticogenesis in normal rat brains. In addition, it demonstrated that the heterotopia were formed through a rather precise outside‐in (for cortical and periventricular heterotopia) and dorso‐ventral (for intra‐hippocampal heterotopia) neurogenetic pattern. We hypothesize that the MAM‐induced ablation of an early wave of cortical neurons is sufficient to alter per se the migration and differentiation of subsequently generated neurons, which in turn set the base for the formation of the different types of heterotopia. On this basis, we suggest a neurogenetic scheme for MAM‐induced heterotopia that can also explain the origin and intrinsic epileptogenicity of periventricular nodular heterotopia in humans.