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Focal cortical dysplasia (FCD) is considered to represent a malformation due to abnormal cortical development (MCD) and is an important cause of focal epilepsy. The histopathological features include abnormal laminar architecture, the presence of hypertrophic and dysmorphic neurones in FCD type IIA and additional balloon cells in FCD type IIB. The events causing these sporadic lesions are unknown, but abnormal progenitor cell proliferation occurring late in corticogenesis has been proposed. FCD-like lesions have, however, also been described following a cerebral injury early in life. We carried out a stereological assessment on 15 cases of FCD on NeuN- and Nissl-stained sections from patients with a wide age range, and identified a significant reduction in the neuronal density in all cases in the region of dysplasia compared to the adjacent unaffected cortex (mean neuronal densities 19.2x10(3)/mm3 in the region of dysplasia; 42.8x10(3)/mm3 in the adjacent cortex). Relative differences in neuronal density and size in FCD cases between the superficial (layer I and II) and deep cortical laminae (layer V and VI) were similar to that observed in other pathologies including mild MCD, temporal neocortex adjacent to hippocampal sclerosis as well as in a non-epilepsy surgical control group. The lower overall neuronal densities observed in FCD may reflect neuropil expansion, a local failure of neuronal migration, proliferation or secondary neuronal loss. The preservation of relative differences in neuronal densities between cortical layers and laminar patterns of neurofilament staining in FCD would support the view that the temporal sequence of lamination is not affected.

Original publication




Journal article


Acta Neuropathol

Publication Date





383 - 392


Adolescent, Adult, Aged, Aged, 80 and over, Analysis of Variance, Cell Count, Cell Proliferation, Cerebral Cortex, Child, Child, Preschool, Female, Humans, Infant, Male, Middle Aged, Nervous System Malformations, Neurofilament Proteins, Neurons, Phosphopyruvate Hydratase