Birth order and the genetics of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
ABSTRACT The cause of ALS remains largely unknown for the 90% with no known family history, but spontaneous mutation to risk alleles of as yet unidentified genes is possible. It has long been recognized that genetic diseases may be more likely to occur in the last born children of a sibship because increased paternal age is associated with an increased spontaneous point mutation rate in sperm. To test the hypothesis that such a mechanism is responsible for sporadic ALS, we have performed a retrospective analysis of birth order position. We have analyzed sibships of size greater than four using a binomial test for birth position. The 478 pedigrees studied show no birth order effect, suggesting that any genetic contributions to sporadic ALS are more likely to be through deletion in large genes or interactions of common polymorphisms, rather than frequent spontaneous point mutation. This is encouraging for the prospect of finding sporadic ALS susceptibility genes using genome-wide association mapping.
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ABSTRACT: Increasing evidence indicates that inflammatory responses could play a critical role in the pathogenesis of motor neuron injury in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Recent findings have underlined the role of Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and the receptor for advanced glycation endproducts (RAGE) in the regulation of both innate and adaptive immunity in different pathologies associated with neuroinflammation. In the present study we investigated the expression and cellular distribution of TLR2, TLR4, RAGE and their endogenous ligand high mobility group box 1 (HMGB1) in the spinal cord of control (n=6) and sporadic ALS (n=12) patients. The immunohistochemical analysis of TLR2, TLR4 and RAGE showed increased expression in reactive glial cells in both gray (ventral horn) and white matter of ALS spinal cord. TLR2 was predominantly detected in cells of the microglia/macrophage lineage, whereas the TLR4 and RAGE was strongly expressed in astrocytes. Real-time quantitative PCR analysis confirmed the increased expression of both TLR2 and TLR4 and HMGB1 mRNA level in ALS patients. In ALS spinal cord, HMGB1 signal is increased in the cytoplasm of reactive glia, indicating a possible release of this molecule from glial cells. Our findings show increased expression of TLR2, TLR4, RAGE and HMGB1 in reactive glia in human ALS spinal cord, suggesting activation of the TLR/RAGE signaling pathways. The activation of these pathways may contribute to the progression of inflammation, resulting in motor neuron injury. In this context, future studies, using animal models, will be important to achieve a better understanding of these signaling pathways in ALS in view of the development of new therapeutic strategies.Neuroscience 02/2011; 179:233-43. · 3.33 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: To determine whether the frequency of Parkinson disease (PD), dementia, and vascular diseases in relatives of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) differs from the frequency of those diseases in relatives of controls, providing further information about the association between these diseases. We studied the occurrence of neurodegenerative and vascular diseases in families of patients with ALS in a prospective, population-based, case-control study in the Netherlands between 2006 and 2009, using the recurrence risk λ. Family history data were obtained by asking participants to fill in questionnaires. A total of 635 patients and 1,616 controls were included. The frequency of dementia was mildly increased only among parents and siblings of patients with sporadic ALS (λ1.32; 95 confidence interval [CI] 1.10-1.59), not among grandparents, or aunts and uncles. The risk of PD was not elevated (any relative: λ 0.91; 95% CI 0.70-1.17). Among relatives of patients with familial ALS, no significantly increased risk of neurodegenerative diseases was found. A reduced risk of vascular diseases was found in relatives of patients with sporadic ALS (stroke: λ 0.90; 95% CI 0.80-1.01 and myocardial infarction: λ 0.86; 95% CI 0.79-0.94), and in relatives of patients with familial ALS (stroke: λ 0.88; 95% CI 0.61-1.27 and myocardial infarction: λ 0.61; 95% CI 0.43-0.86). This large, prospective, population-based study showed that familial aggregation of ALS, dementia, and PD is substantially lower than previously thought. The lowered risk of vascular diseases in relatives of patients with ALS supports the view that a beneficial vascular risk profile increases ALS susceptibility.Neurology 09/2011; 77(14):1363-9. · 8.30 Impact Factor
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ABSTRACT: Sporadic ALS is a multifactorial disease for which there are probably multiple genetic risk factors. An association with increased parental age might suggest there is a role for specific (epi)genetic changes. Previous studies have shown conflicting results on the association between parental age and the risk of ALS. A large, population based study might help in the search for specific (epi)genetic risk factors. We performed a population based, case-control study in the Netherlands. Date of birth of both mother and father was retrieved from the National Register. Multivariate logistic regression analysis was performed in 769 patients with sporadic ALS, 49 patients with a hexanucleotide repeat expansion in C9orf72, and 1929 age-, gender- and geographically-matched controls. Multivariate analyses showed no difference in either paternal or maternal age at delivery (adjusted for age of subject, age of other parent at delivery, and level of education) in patients with sporadic ALS, nor in patients with a hexanucleotide repeat expansion in C9orf72 compared to controls. In conclusion, parental age was not associated with an increased risk of ALS in our study. (Epi)genetic alterations that are associated with increased parental age are not, therefore, likely to contribute to the aetiology of sporadic ALS.Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis 11/2012; · 3.40 Impact Factor