Thalamotemporal impairment in temporal lobe epilepsy: A combined MRI analysis of structure, integrity, and connectivity

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Thalamic abnormality in temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) is well known from imaging studies, but evidence is lacking regarding connectivity profiles of the thalamus and their involvement in the disease process. We used a novel multisequence magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) protocol to elucidate the relationship between mesial temporal and thalamic pathology in TLE.

For 23 patients with TLE and 23 healthy controls, we performed T1-weighted (for analysis of tissue structure), diffusion tensor imaging (tissue connectivity), and T1 and T2 relaxation (tissue integrity) MRI across the whole brain. We used connectivity-based segmentation to determine connectivity patterns of thalamus to ipsilateral cortical regions (occipital, parietal, prefrontal, postcentral, precentral, and temporal). We subsequently determined volumes, mean tractography streamlines, and mean T1 and T2 relaxometry values for each thalamic segment preferentially connecting to a given cortical region, and of the hippocampus and entorhinal cortex.

As expected, patients had significant volume reduction and increased T2 relaxation time in ipsilateral hippocampus and entorhinal cortex. There was bilateral volume loss, mean streamline reduction, and T2 increase of the thalamic segment preferentially connected to temporal lobe, corresponding to anterior, dorsomedial, and pulvinar thalamic regions, with no evidence of significant change in any other thalamic segments. Left and right thalamotemporal segment volume and T2 were significantly correlated with volume and T2 of ipsilateral (epileptogenic), but not contralateral (nonepileptogenic), mesial temporal structures.

These convergent and robust data indicate that thalamic abnormality in TLE is restricted to the area of the thalamus that is preferentially connected to the epileptogenic temporal lobe. The degree of thalamic pathology is related to the extent of mesial temporal lobe damage in TLE.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)306–315
Issue number2
Early online date21 Jan 2014
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2014


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