Hippocampal N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor subunit mRNA levels in temporal lobe epilepsy patients

Gary W. Mathern*, James K. Pretorius, Delia Mendoza, Joao P. Leite, Leila Chimelli, Donald E. Born, Itzhak Fried, Joao A. Assirati, George A. Ojemann, P. David Adelson, Leslie D. Cahan, Harley I. Kornblum

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

61 Scopus citations


Changes in the subunit stoichiometry of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor (NMDAR) alters its channel properties, and may enhance or reduce neuronal excitability in temporal lobe epilepsy patients. This study determined whether hippocampal NMDA receptor subunit mRNA levels were increased or decreased in temporal lobe epilepsy patients compared with nonseizure autopsy cases. Hippocampal sclerosis (HS; n = 16), non-HS (n = 10), and autopsy hippocampi (n = 9) were studied for NMDAR1 (NR1) and NR2A-D mRNA levels by using semiquantitative in situ hybridization techniques, along with neuron densities. Compared with autopsy hippocampi, non-HS and HS patients showed increased NR2A and NR2B hybridization densities per dentate granule cell. Furthermore, non-HS hippocampi showed increased NR1 and NR2B mRNA levels per CA2/3 pyramidal neuron compared with autopsy cases. HS patients, by contrast, showed decreased NR2A hybridization densities per CA2/3 pyramidal neuron compared with non-HS and autopsy cases. These findings indicate that chronic temporal lobe seizures are associated with differential changes in hippocampal NR1 and NR2A-D hybridization densities that vary by subfield and clinical-pathological category. In temporal lobe epilepsy patients, these findings support the hypothesis that in dentate granule cells NMDA receptors are increased, and excitatory postsynaptic potentials should be strongly NMDA mediated compared with nonseizure autopsies. HS patients, by comparison, showed decreased pyramidal neuron NR2A mRNA levels, and this suggests that NMDA-mediated pyramidal neuron responses should be reduced in HS patients compared with non-HS cases.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)343-358
Number of pages16
JournalAnnals of Neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - 1999
Externally publishedYes


FundersFunder number
National Institute of Neurological Disorders and StrokeP01NS002808


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