Mesial temporal lobe epilepsy (MTLE) is the most common type of focal epilepsy. It is frequently associated with abnormal MRI findings, which are caused by underlying cellular, structural, and chemical changes at the micro-scale. In the current study, it is investigated to which extent these alterations correspond to imaging features detected by high resolution magnetic resonance imaging in the intrahippocampal kainate mouse model of MTLE. Fixed hippocampal and whole-brain sections of mouse brain tissue from nine animals under physiological and chronically epileptic conditions were examined using structural and diffusion-weighted MRI. Microstructural details were investigated based on a direct comparison with immunohistochemical analyses of the same specimen. Within the hippocampal formation, diffusion streamlines could be visualized corresponding to dendrites of CA1 pyramidal cells and granule cells, as well as mossy fibers and Schaffer collaterals. Statistically significant changes in diffusivities, fractional anisotropy, and diffusion orientations could be detected in tissue samples from chronically epileptic animals compared to healthy controls, corresponding to microstructural alterations (degeneration of pyramidal cells, dispersion of the granule cell layer, and sprouting of mossy fibers). ... mehrThe diffusion parameters were significantly correlated with histologically determined cell densities. These findings demonstrate that high-resolution diffusion-weighted MRI can resolve subtle microstructural changes in epileptic hippocampal tissue corresponding to histopathological features in MTLE.