In vivo mapping of hippocampal subfields in mesial temporal lobe epilepsy: relation to histopathology

Hum Brain Mapp. 2014 Sep;35(9):4718-28. doi: 10.1002/hbm.22506. Epub 2014 Mar 17.


A particularly popular automated magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) hippocampal subfield mapping technique is the one described by Van Leemput et al. (2009: Hippocampus 19:549-557) that is currently distributed with FreeSurfer software. This method assesses the probabilistic locations of subfields based on a priori knowledge of subfield topology determined from high-field MRI. Many studies have applied this technique to conventionally acquired T1-weighted MRI data. In the present study, we investigated the relationship between this technique applied to conventional T1-weighted MRI data acquired at 3 T and postsurgical hippocampal histology in patients with medically intractable mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (mTLE) and hippocampal sclerosis (HS). Patients with mTLE (n = 82) exhibited significant volume loss of ipsilateral CA1, CA2-3, CA4-dentate gyrus (DG), subiculum, and fimbria relative to controls (n = 81). Histopathological analysis indicated that the most significant neuronal loss was observed in CA1, then CA4 and CA3, and more subtle neuronal loss in CA2, consistent with classical HS. Neuronal density of CA1 significantly correlated with MRI-determined volume of CA1, and increasingly so with CA2-3 and CA4-DG. Patients with increased HS based on histopathology had greater volume loss of the ipsilateral hippocampal regions on MRI. We conclude by suggesting that whilst time efficient and fully reproducible when applied to conventional single acquisition sequences, the use of the automated subfield technique described here may necessitate the application to multiacquisition high-resolution MR sequences for accurate delineation of hippocampal subfields.

Keywords: FreeSurfer; atrophy; hippocampal sclerosis; hippocampal subfields; histopathological; temporal lobectomy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Brain Mapping / instrumentation
  • Brain Mapping / methods*
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / pathology*
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / surgery
  • Hippocampus / pathology*
  • Hippocampus / surgery
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / instrumentation
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging / methods*
  • Neurons / pathology
  • Organ Size
  • Pattern Recognition, Automated / methods
  • Sclerosis
  • Signal Processing, Computer-Assisted
  • Software