Reelin deficiency and displacement of mature neurons, but not neurogenesis, underlie the formation of granule cell dispersion in the epileptic hippocampus

J Neurosci. 2006 Apr 26;26(17):4701-13. doi: 10.1523/JNEUROSCI.5516-05.2006.


Mesio-temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE) is often accompanied by granule cell dispersion (GCD), a widening of the granule cell layer. The molecular determinants of GCD are poorly understood. Here, we used an animal model to study whether GCD results from an increased dentate neurogenesis associated with an abnormal migration of the newly generated granule cells. Adult mice were given intrahippocampal injections of kainate (KA) known to induce focal epileptic seizures and GCD, comparable to the changes observed in human MTLE. Ipsilateral GCD progressively developed after KA injection and was paralleled by a gradual decrease in the expression of doublecortin, a marker of newly generated granule cells, in the dentate subgranular layer. Staining with Fluoro-Jade B revealed little cell degeneration in the subgranular layer on the KA-injected side. Labeling with bromodeoxyuridine showed an early, transient increase in mitotic activity in the dentate gyrus of the KA-injected hippocampus that gave rise to microglial cells and astrocytes but not to new neurons. Moreover, at later time points, there was a virtually complete cessation of mitotic activity in the injected hippocampus (where GCD continued to develop), but not on the contralateral side (where no GCD was observed). Finally, a significant decrease in reelin mRNA synthesis in the injected hippocampus paralleled the development of GCD, and neutralization of reelin by application of the CR-50 antibody induced GCD. These results show that GCD does not result from increased neurogenesis but reflects a displacement of mature granule cells, most likely caused by a local reelin deficiency.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal / deficiency*
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins / deficiency*
  • Granulocytes / pathology*
  • Hippocampus / pathology*
  • Hippocampus / physiopathology*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins / deficiency*
  • Neurons / pathology*
  • Serine Endopeptidases / deficiency*


  • Cell Adhesion Molecules, Neuronal
  • Extracellular Matrix Proteins
  • Nerve Tissue Proteins
  • Serine Endopeptidases
  • reelin protein