A decrease in the number of GABAergic somata is associated with the preferential loss of GABAergic terminals at epileptic foci

Brain Res. 1986 Jan 15;363(1):78-90. doi: 10.1016/0006-8993(86)90660-8.


Previous studies have indicated that a loss of GABAergic terminals occurs at epileptic foci. The present study was undertaken to investigate if this loss is associated with a loss of GABAergic neuronal somata. Seven juvenile monkeys (M. mulatta) received alumina gel injections to the pre-central gyrus of the left cerebral hemisphere to produce epileptic foci. Four of these monkeys were chosen for further quantitative study. One was sacrificed prior to seizure onset ('pre-seizure'), one had seizures for 3 days ('acute'), and two had a seizure record of one month ('chronic'). Sections of tissue from the epileptic cortex and from the contralateral, non-epileptic cortex were processed for glutamate decarboxylase (GAD) immunocytochemistry at the light microscopic level. Quantitative analysis revealed that a loss of GAD-positive neuronal somata ranging from 24 to 52% occurred at epileptic foci for all monkeys. This decrease was significant (P less than 0.01) for the two chronic monkeys. There was also a slight decrease in GAD-positive neurons 1 cm distal to the focus ('parafocus') in the chronic monkeys, but not in the acute or pre-seizure animals. In addition, small GAD-positive somata (50-150 micron2) were more severely decreased in number at epileptic foci than larger ones (200-250 micron2). As an experimental control, an additional monkey was given a surgical lesion in area 4 of one cerebral hemisphere. It did not display seizure activity prior to sacrifice and did not show a loss of GAD-positive neurons proximal to the control lesions. The results of this study indicate that a loss of GABAergic neuronal somata is associated with a loss of GABAergic terminals at epileptic foci, and that this loss may be more specific for the small GABAergic neurons.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cerebral Cortex / enzymology*
  • Cerebral Cortex / physiopathology
  • Epilepsies, Partial / enzymology*
  • Epilepsies, Partial / physiopathology
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase / metabolism*
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Macaca mulatta
  • Synaptic Transmission
  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid / physiology*


  • gamma-Aminobutyric Acid
  • Glutamate Decarboxylase