The pathophysiology of epilepsy underlies a complex network dysfunction between neurons and glia, the molecular cell type-specific contributions of which remain poorly defined in the human disease. In this study, we validated a method that simultaneously isolates neuronal (NEUN +), astrocyte (PAX6 + NEUN–), and oligodendroglial progenitor (OPC) (OLIG2 + NEUN–) enriched nuclei populations from non-diseased, fresh-frozen human neocortex and then applied it to characterize the distinct transcriptomes of such populations isolated from electrode-mapped temporal lobe epilepsy (TLE) surgical samples. Nuclear RNA-seq confirmed cell type specificity and informed both common and distinct pathways associated with TLE in astrocytes, OPCs, and neurons. Compared to postmortem control, the transcriptome of epilepsy astrocytes showed downregulation of mature astrocyte functions and upregulation of development-related genes. To gain further insight into glial heterogeneity in TLE, we performed single cell transcriptomics (scRNA-seq) on four additional human TLE samples. Analysis of the integrated TLE dataset uncovered a prominent subpopulation of glia that express a hybrid signature of both reactive astrocyte and OPC markers, including many cells with a mixed GFAP + OLIG2 + phenotype. A further integrated analysis of this TLE scRNA-seq dataset and a previously published normal human temporal lobe scRNA-seq dataset confirmed the unique presence of hybrid glia only in TLE. Pseudotime analysis revealed cell transition trajectories stemming from this hybrid population towards both OPCs and reactive astrocytes. Immunofluorescence studies in human TLE samples confirmed the rare presence of GFAP + OLIG2 + glia, including some cells with proliferative activity, and functional analysis of cells isolated directly from these samples disclosed abnormal neurosphere formation in vitro. Overall, cell type-specific isolation of glia from surgical epilepsy samples combined with transcriptomic analyses uncovered abnormal glial subpopulations with de-differentiated phenotype, motivating further studies into the dysfunctional role of reactive glia in temporal lobe epilepsy.

Original languageEnglish
Article number149
JournalActa neuropathologica communications
Issue number1
StatePublished - Dec 2022


Dive into the research topics of 'High-resolution transcriptomics informs glial pathology in human temporal lobe epilepsy'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this