Calcium‐binding protein (calbindin‐D28K) and parvalbumin immunocytochemistry in the normal and epileptic human hippocampus

Robert S. Sloviter, Anne L. Sollas, Nicholas M. Barbaro, Kenneth D. Laxer

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

274 Scopus citations


The calcium‐binding proteins calbindin‐D28K (CaBP) and parvalbumin (PV) were localized in the “normal” and “epileptic” human hippocampus to address the possible relationship between the expression of these constitutive cytosolic calcium‐binding proteins and the resistance or selective vulnerability of different hippocampal neuron populations in temporal lobe epilepsy. Compared to rodents and a baboon (Papio papio), the pattern of CaBP‐like immunoreactivity (LI) in the “normal” human hippocampus is unique. CaBP‐LI is present in the dentate granule cells, neurons of the “resistant zone” (area CA2), and presumed interneurons of all regions. Unlike rodent and baboon CA1 pyramidal cells, human CA1 pyramidal cells appear to be devoid of CaBP‐LI. Thus, the relatively resistant dentate granule cells and CA2 pyramidal cells are the only human hippocampal principal cells that contain CaBP‐LI normally. As in lower mammals, PV‐LI is present exclusively in interneurons of all human hippocampal subregions. CaBP‐ and PV‐LI were localized in hippocampi surgically removed in the treatment of intractable temporal lobe epilepsy to determine whether surviving hippocampal cells were those that express these calcium‐binding proteins. Hippocampi removed from patients with tumors or arteriovenous malformations that were associated with complex partial seizures arising from this region appeared relatively normal histologically. CaBP‐ and PV‐LI in this patient group appeared similar to that seen in autopsy controls. Conversely, “cryptogenic” epileptics, who exhibit hippocampal sclerosis as the only lesion associated with the epilepsy, exhibited a preferential survival of hippocampal cells that were CaBP‐ or PV‐immunoreactive. In the dentate hilus, which normally contains few CaBP‐LI neurons, most of the few surviving hilar neurons were CaBP‐immunoreactive. Their number and darkness of staining suggests that CaBP synthesis may be increased in cells that survive. Despite an obvious decrease of PV‐LI specifically in the damaged parts of the sclerotic hippocampi, PV‐immunoreactive interneurons were often among the few surviving cells. Nevertheless, large expanses of the surviving granule cell layer appeared to have lost the PV‐immunoreactive axosomatic fiber plexus. These results reveal a unique and striking correlation between the human hippocampal cells that normally express these calcium‐binding proteins and those that survive in the sclerotic epileptic hippocampus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)381-396
Number of pages16
JournalJournal of Comparative Neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Jun 15 1991


  • dentate gyrus
  • neuropathology
  • temporal lobe epilepsy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)

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