July 28, 2022

Atrophy of the Hippocampal CA1 Subfield Relates to Long-Term Forgetting in Focal Epilepsy

Abstract found on Wiley Online Library

Objective: The mechanisms underlying accelerated long-term forgetting (ALF) in patients with epilepsy are still under investigation. We examined the contribution of hippocampal subfields and their morphology to long-term memory performance in patients with focal epilepsy.

Methods: We prospectively assessed long-term memory and performed magnetic resonance imaging in 80 patients with focal epilepsy (61 with temporal lobe epilepsy and 19 with extratemporal lobe epilepsy) and 30 healthy controls. The patients also underwent electroencephalography recording. Verbal and visuospatial memory was tested 30 seconds, 10 minutes, and 1 week after learning. We assessed the volumes of the whole hippocampus and seven subfields and deformation of the hippocampal shape. The contributions of the hippocampal volumes and shape deformation to long-term forgetting, controlling for confounding factors, including the presence of interictal epileptiform discharges, were assessed by multiple regression analyses.

Results: Patients with focal epilepsy had lower intelligence quotients and route recall scores at 10 minutes than controls. The focal epilepsy group had smaller volumes of both the right and left hippocampal tails than the control group, but there were no significant group differences for the volumes of the whole hippocampus or other hippocampal subfields. Multiple regression analyses showed a significant association between the left CA1 volume and the 1-week story retention (? = 7.76; Bonferroni-corrected P = 0.044), but this was not found for the whole hippocampus or other subfield volumes. Hippocampal shape analyses revealed that atrophy of the superior-lateral, superior-central, and inferior-medial regions of the left hippocampus, corresponding to CA1 and CA2/3, was associated with the verbal retention rate.

Significance: Our results suggest that atrophy of the hippocampal CA1 region and its associated structures disrupts long-term memory consolidation in focal epilepsy. Neuronal cell loss in specific hippocampal subfields could be a key underlying cause of accelerated long-term forgetting in patients with epilepsy.