Ganglioside changes associated with temporal lobe epilepsy in the human hippocampus

Yale J Biol Med. 1987 Mar-Apr;60(2):107-17.


To understand better the molecular and cellular events associated with status epilepticus, a multifaceted analysis has begun on hippocampal tissues therapeutically removed from patients with temporal lobe epilepsy. In this first study, quantitative changes in major ganglioside species are reported, as well as the immunocytochemical localization on the ganglioside GD3 in epileptic human hippocampus. Although significant variations were found between patients, the pattern of change was consistent when compared to normal values obtained from an autopsied specimen and the literature. Total ganglioside content was reduced in epileptic hippocampi, which was attributable, in part, to pyramidal cell loss found in CA1 and CA3. In each case, the percentage of ganglioside GD3 was increased significantly, while ganglioside GD1a decreased. The former change is probably associated with reactive astrocytosis and the latter with loss of neuronal dendrites. Immunocytochemical localization revealed GD3 in the stratum radiatum and the subgranular layer of the dentate gyrus. In these areas, GD3 was present in punctate structures and astrocytes. These findings indicate that GD3 increases in selected areas of the sclerotic hippocampus and is presumably related to localized accumulation of reactive glial cells. Since gangliosides have a high affinity for calcium and localized increase in extracellular calcium could disrupt normal neuronal function, the localized increase in GD3 may not only denote reactive glial cells but may contribute directly to the altered, hyperexcitable condition of epilepsy.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Chromatography, Thin Layer
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / metabolism*
  • Gangliosides / metabolism*
  • Hippocampus / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Immunoenzyme Techniques
  • Membrane Lipids / metabolism


  • Gangliosides
  • Membrane Lipids