J Neurol Neurosurg Psychiatry 78:286-294 doi:10.1136/jnnp.2006.103994
  • Paper

Asymmetrical extra-hippocampal grey matter loss related to hippocampal atrophy in patients with medial temporal lobe epilepsy

  1. L Bonilha1,
  2. C Rorden1,
  3. J J Halford2,
  4. M Eckert3,
  5. S Appenzeller4,
  6. F Cendes4,
  7. L M Li4
  1. 1Department of Communication Sciences and Disorders, University of South Carolina, Columbia, South Carolina, USA
  2. 2Department of Neurology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, USA
  3. 3Department of Otolaryngology, Medical University of South Carolina, Charleston, South Carolina, USA
  4. 4Department of Neurology, State University of Campinas, Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil
  1. Correspondence to:
 L M Li
 Departamento de Neurologia, UNICAMP, Universitária Zeferino Vaz, Barão Geraldo, Campinas, São Paulo, Brazil; limin{at}
  • Received 7 August 2006
  • Accepted 20 September 2006
  • Revised 14 September 2006
  • Published Online First 29 September 2006


Background: Structural neuroimaging studies have consistently shown a pattern of extra-hippocampal atrophy in patients with left and right drug-refractory medial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE). However, it is not yet completely understood how extra-hippocampal atrophy is related to hippocampal atrophy. Moreover, patients with left MTLE often exhibit more intense cognitive impairment, and subtle brain asymmetries have been reported in patients with left MTLE versus right MTLE but have not been explored in a controlled study.

Objectives: To investigate the association between extra-hippocampal and hippocampal atrophy in patients with MTLE, and the effect of side of hippocampal atrophy on extra-hippocampal atrophy.

Methods: Voxel-based morphometry analyses of magnetic resonance images of the brain were performed to determine the correlation between regional extra-hippocampal grey matter volume and hippocampal grey matter volume. The results from 36 patients with right and left MTLE were compared, and results from the two groups were compared with those from 49 healthy controls.

Results: Compared with controls, patients with MTLE showed a more intense correlation between hippocampal grey matter volume and regional grey matter volume in locations such as the contralateral hippocampus, bilateral parahippocampal gyri and frontal and parietal areas. Compared with right MTLE, patients with left MTLE exhibited a wider area of atrophy related to hippocampal grey matter loss, encompassing both the contralateral and ipsilateral hemispheres, particularly affecting the contralateral hippocampus.

Conclusions: Our results suggest that left hippocampal atrophy is associated with a larger degree of extra-hippocampal atrophy. This may help to explain the more intense cognitive impairment usually observed in these patients.


  • Published Online First 29 September 2006

  • Competing interests: None declared.

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