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Differential Expression Hallmarks of Interneurons in Different Types of Focal Cortical Dysplasia

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Focal cortical dysplasia (FCD) is the main cause of medically intractable pediatric epilepsy. Previous studies have suggested that alteration of cortical interneurons and abnormal cytoarchitecture have been linked to initiation and development for seizure. However, whether each individual subpopulation of cortical interneurons is linked to distinct FCD subtypes remains largely unknown. Here, we retrospectively analyzed both control samples and epileptic specimens pathologically diagnosed with FCD types Ia, IIa, or IIb. We quantified three major interneuron (IN) subpopulations, including parvalbumin (PV)-, somatostatin (Sst)-, and vasoactive intestinal peptide (Vip)-positive INs across all the subgroups. Additionally, we calculated the ratio of the subpopulations of INs to the major INs (mINs) by defining the total number of the PV-, Sst-, and Vip-INs as mINs. Compared with the control, the density of the PV-INs in FCD type IIb was significantly lower, and the ratio of PV/mINs was lower in the superficial part of the cortex of the FCD type Ia and IIb groups. Interestingly, we found a significant increase in the ratio of Vip/mINs only in FCD type IIb. Overall, these results suggest that in addition to a reduction in PV-INs, the increase in Vip/mINs may be related to the initiation of epilepsy in FCD type IIb. Furthermore, the increase in Vip/mINs in FCD type IIb may, from the IN development perspective, indicate that FCD type IIb forms during earlier stages of pregnancy than FCD type Ia.

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The authors thank Gang Zhu, Bang-yun Zhao, Zhen-le Zang, and Kai-feng Shen for their technical assistance and those patients for their participation in this work.


This work was supported by the National Natural Science Foundation of China (Nos. 81471321, 81701283, and 81771394).

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Correspondence to Hui Yang.

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The acquisition and use of all surgical specimens complied with the Declaration of Helsinki and Guidelines for the Conduct of Research Involving Human Subjects established by the Ethics Committee of Army Medical University.

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Liang, C., Zhang, C., Chen, X. et al. Differential Expression Hallmarks of Interneurons in Different Types of Focal Cortical Dysplasia. J Mol Neurosci (2020). https://doi.org/10.1007/s12031-020-01492-0

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  • Focal cortical dysplasia
  • Pediatric epilepsy
  • Development
  • Vasoactive intestinal peptide interneurons