Annals of Neurology

Seizure activity per se does not induce tissue damage markers in human neocortical focal epilepsy

Laura Rossini, Rita Garbelli, Vadym Gnatkovsky, Giuseppe Didato, Flavio Villani, Roberto Spreafico, Francesco Deleo, Giorgio Lo Russo, Giovanni Tringali, Francesca Gozzo, Laura Tassi and Marco de Curtis

Annals of Neurology 30 August 2017;82:331–341 DOI: 10.1002/ana.25005



The contribution of recurring seizures to the progression of epileptogenesis is debated. Seizure-induced brain damage is not conclusively demonstrated either in humans or in animal models of epilepsy. We evaluated the expression of brain injury biomarkers on postsurgical brain tissue obtained from 20 patients with frequent seizures and a long history of drug-resistant focal epilepsy.


The expression patterns of specific glial, neuronal, and inflammatory molecules were evaluated by immunohistochemistry in the core of type II focal cortical dysplasias (FCD-II), at the FCD boundary (perilesion), and in the adjacent normal-appearing area included in the epileptogenic region. We also analyzed surgical specimens from cryptogenic patients not presenting structural alterations at imaging.


Astroglial and microglial activation, reduced neuronal density, perivascular CD3-positive T-lymphocyte clustering, and fibrinogen extravasation were demonstrated in the core of FCD-II lesions. No pathological immunoreactivity was observed outside the FCD-II or in cryptogenetic specimens, where the occurrence of interictal and ictal epileptiform activity was confirmed by either stereo-electroencephalography or intraoperative electrocorticography.


Recurrent seizures do not induce the expression of brain damage markers in nonlesional epileptogenic cortex studied in postsurgical tissue from cryptogenic and FCD patients. This evidence argues against the hypothesis that epileptiform activity per se contributes to focal brain injury, at least in the neocortical epilepsies considered here. Ann Neurol 2017;82:331–341