Hippocampal N-acetylaspartate in neocortical epilepsy and mesial temporal lobe epilepsy

Ann Neurol. 1997 Aug;42(2):194-9. doi: 10.1002/ana.410420210.


Previous magnetic resonance spectroscopy (MRS) studies have shown that N-acetylaspartate (NAA) is reduced not only in the ipsilateral but also in the contralateral hippocampus of many patients with mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (mTLE). The reason for the contralateral damage is not clear. To test whether the hippocampus is also damaged if the focus is outside the hippocampus, we have measured patients with neocortical epilepsy (NE). Therefore, the goals of this study were to determine if hippocampal NAA is reduced in NE and if hippocampal NAA discriminates NE from mTLE. MRS imaging (MRSI) studies were performed on 10 NE patients and compared with MRSI results in 23 unilateral mTLE patients and 16 controls. The results show that, in contrast to mTLE, NAA was not reduced in the hippocampus of NE patients, neither ipsilateral nor contralateral to the seizure focus. These results suggest that repeated seizures do not cause secondary damage to the hippocampus. The absence of spectroscopic differences in NE may help to distinguish NE from mTLE.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aspartic Acid / analogs & derivatives*
  • Aspartic Acid / metabolism
  • Choline / metabolism
  • Creatine / metabolism
  • Epilepsies, Partial / metabolism*
  • Epilepsy, Frontal Lobe / metabolism*
  • Epilepsy, Temporal Lobe / metabolism*
  • Female
  • Functional Laterality
  • Hippocampus / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Magnetic Resonance Imaging
  • Magnetic Resonance Spectroscopy
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Reference Values


  • Aspartic Acid
  • N-acetylaspartate
  • Creatine
  • Choline