Article

Progressive axonal dysfunction and clinical impairment in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

Neuroscience Research Australia, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia; Prince of Wales Clinical School, University of New South Wales, Sydney, New South Wales, Australia.
Clinical neurophysiology: official journal of the International Federation of Clinical Neurophysiology (Impact Factor: 3.12). 08/2012; DOI: 10.1016/j.clinph.2012.06.020
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT OBJECTIVE: To elucidate longitudinal changes in axonal function in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) patients, and to relate such changes with motor unit loss and functional impairment. METHODS: 37 ALS patients (age, 53.7±1.7years; 22 males) were studied using axonal excitability techniques at baseline and 12weeks follow-up. RESULTS: Longitudinal measurements across excitability parameters suggested increasing K(+) channel dysfunction, with further increases in depolarising threshold electrotonus (90-100ms, baseline, 46.8±1.0%; follow-up, 48.7±0.8%; P=0.02) and superexcitability (baseline, -24.0±1.2%; 12weeks, -26.0±1.2%; P=0.04). Patients with preserved compound muscle action potential (CMAP) amplitude at follow-up developed more severe changes in axonal excitability than those in whom CMAP decreased from baseline, suggesting that the most pronounced disease effects were on motor axons immediately prior to axonal loss in ALS patients. Fine motor decline was associated with more severe changes in axonal excitability, suggesting that functional impairment was related to axonal dysfunction. CONCLUSIONS: Longitudinal changes in axonal excitability in ALS patients suggest increasing K(+) channel dysfunction in motor axons. SIGNIFICANCE: Axonal excitability studies enable investigation of longitudinal changes in axonal ion channel dysfunction, and thereby the processes that potentially contribute to axonal degeneration in ALS.

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