[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Approximately 90% of persons with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) have the sporadic form, which may be caused by the interaction of multiple environmental factors and previously unknown genes.
We performed a genomewide association analysis using 766,955 single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) found in 386 white patients with sporadic ALS and 542 neurologically normal white controls (the discovery series). Associations of SNPs with sporadic ALS were confirmed in two independent replication populations: replication series 1, with 766 case patients with the disease and 750 neurologically normal controls, and replication series 2, with 135 case patients and 275 controls.
We identified 10 genetic loci that are significantly associated (P<0.05) with sporadic ALS in three independent series of case patients and controls and an additional 41 loci that had significant associations in two of the three series. The most significant association with disease in white case patients as compared with controls was found for a SNP near an uncharacterized gene known as FLJ10986 (P=3.0x10(-4); odds ratio for having the genotype in patients vs. controls, 1.35; 95% confidence interval, 1.13 to 1.62). The FLJ10986 protein was found to be expressed in the spinal cord and cerebrospinal fluid of patients and of controls. Specific SNPs seem to be associated with sex, age at onset, and site of onset of sporadic ALS.
Variants of FLJ10986 may confer susceptibility to sporadic ALS. FLJ10986 and 50 other candidate loci warrant further investigation for their potential role in conferring susceptibility to the disease.
New England Journal of Medicine 08/2007; 357(8):775-88. · 51.66 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The aim of this study was to determine the predictors of disease progression in a group of 832 patients with the diagnosis of definite or probable amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Disease progression was defined as the time to 20-point change in Appel ALS (AALS) score. The effects of individual prognostic factors on disease progression were assessed with the Kaplan-Meier life-table method. In addition, the prognostic value of each factor was estimated using both univariate and multivariate Cox proportional hazard analyses. The median time to a 20-point change in AALS score in our patient population was 9 months. Age, site of symptom onset, time between first symptom and first examination, total AALS score at first examination, and AALS preslope (rate of disease progression between first symptom and first examination) were significant and independent covariates of disease progression in our population. Identification of predictors of disease progression will facilitate better design of therapeutic trials, permitting the use of disease progression as a primary endpoint and improving baseline stratification of patient populations.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: In recent years, considerable effort has been made to improve the treatment of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). However, despite the increased use of supportive measures, controversy still exists about overall trends in disease progression and survival.
To analyze whether survival and disease progression in patients with ALS have changed during the past 20 years.
By using the Kaplan-Meier life-table method, we compared disease progression (measured as time to a 20-point increase in the Appel ALS score) and survival in 1041 patients diagnosed as having ALS between January 1, 1984, and January 1, 1999 (historical group, n = 647), and between January 2, 1999, and November 1, 2004 (contemporary group, n = 394). The Cox proportional hazards model was used for univariate and multivariate analyses.
The median survival from symptom onset was 4.32 years (95% confidence interval [CI], 3.81-4.84 years) in the contemporary group compared with 3.22 years (95% CI, 3.04-3.41 years) in the historical group (P<.001). The contemporary patients progressed more slowly (10 months to a 20-point increase; 95% CI, 9-13 months) compared with patients in the historical group (9 months to a 20-point increase; 95% CI, 8-9 months) (P<.001). In the multivariate Cox proportional hazards model, the observed outcome improvement over time was independent of confounding factors, such as age, sex, diagnostic delay, site of symptom onset, baseline forced vital capacity, and baseline Appel ALS score, and independent of the use of potentially outcome-modifying therapies (riluzole, noninvasive ventilation, and percutaneous gastrostomy).
Contemporary patients had significantly prolonged survival and slower disease progression compared with patients from the historical group. The improved outcome seemed independent of specific ALS outcome-modifying therapies, but we cannot rule out an effect of comorbid conditions, which could have influenced medical treatment and survival. Nevertheless, our observations suggest the possibility that disease course has changed and that ALS is becoming less aggressive over time. Further studies are needed to determine whether there has been a fundamental change in the natural history of the disease or whether our results are because of other unmeasured aspects of improved multidisciplinary care.
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Recent studies suggest that motor neuron (MN) death may be non-cell autonomous, with cell injury mediated by interactions involving non-neuronal cells, such as microglia and astrocytes. To help define these interactions, we used primary MN cultures to investigate the effects of microglia activated by lipopolysaccharide or IgG immune complexes from patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Following activation, microglia induced MN injury, which was prevented by a microglial iNOS inhibitor as well as by catalase or glutathione. Glutamate was also required since inhibition of the MN AMPA/kainate receptor by CNQX prevented the toxic effects of activated microglia. Peroxynitrite and glutamate were synergistic in producing MN injury. Their toxic effects were also blocked by CNQX and prevented by calcium removal from the media. The addition of astrocytes to cocultures of MN and activated microglia prevented MN injury by removing glutamate from the media. The protective effects could be reversed by inhibiting astrocytic glutamate transport with dihydrokainic acid or pretreating astrocytes with H2O2. Astrocytic glutamate uptake was also decreased by activated microglia or by added peroxynitrite. These data suggest that free radicals released from activated microglia may initiate MN injury by increasing the susceptibility of the MN AMPA/kainate receptor to the toxic effects of glutamate.
Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology 10/2004; 63(9):964-77. · 4.35 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Dendritic cells are potent antigen-presenting cells that initiate and amplify immune responses. To determine whether dendritic cells participate in inflammatory reactions in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), we examined mRNA expression of dendritic cell surface markers in individual sporadic ALS (sALS), familial ALS (fALS), and nonneurological disease control (NNDC) spinal cord tissues using semiquantitative and real-time reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction (RT-PCR). Immature (DEC205, CD1a) and activated/mature (CD83, CD40) dendritic cell transcripts were significantly elevated in ALS tissues. The presence of immature and activated/mature dendritic cells (CD1a(+) and CD83(+)) was confirmed immunohistochemically in ALS ventral horn and corticospinal tracts. Monocytic/macrophage/microglial transcripts (CD14, CD18, SR-A, CD68) were increased in ALS spinal cord, and activated CD68(+) cells were demonstrated in close proximity to motor neurons. mRNA expressions of the chemokine MCP-1, which attracts monocytes and myeloid dendritic cells, and of the cytokine macrophage-colony stimulating factor (M-CSF) were increased in ALS tissues. The MCP-1 protein was expressed in glia in ALS but not in control tissues and was increased in the CSF of ALS patients. Those patients who progressed most rapidly expressed significantly more dendritic transcripts than patients who progressed more slowly. These results support the involvement of immune/inflammatory responses in amplifying motor neuron degeneration in ALS.
Annals of Neurology 03/2004; 55(2):221-35. · 11.19 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig disease, is a progressive neurodegenerative disease of adult onset characterized by a loss of motor neurons in the spinal cord and motor cortex. In the last several years, substantial progress has been made in defining the pathogenesis of motor neuron injury and relationships between disease mechanisms and the selective vulnerability of the motor neuron in both familial and sporadic forms of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
Current theories have shifted from a neuron-centered pathology to a focus on the interaction between motor neurons and glia, and their respective contributions to pathways implicated in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Although multiple mechanisms clearly can contribute to the pathogenesis of motor neuron injury, recent advances suggest that oxidative stress may play a significant role in the amplification, and possibly the initiation, of disease.
This article reviews the clinical aspects of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis and potential mechanisms of disease pathogenesis in the context of recent data supporting a major role for oxidative stress throughout the disease course. Evidence suggesting an important role for intercellular signaling is emphasized.
Current Opinion in Rheumatology 11/2003; 15(6):730-6. · 5.19 Impact Factor
[show abstract][hide abstract] ABSTRACT: The evidence for increased oxidative stress and DNA damage in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) prompted studies to determine if the expression of poly(ADP-ribose) polymerase (PARP) is increased in ALS. Using Western analyses of postmortem tissue, we demonstrated that PARP-immunoreactivity (PARP-IR) was increased 3-fold in spinal cord tissues of sporadic ALS (sALS) patients compared with non-neurological disease controls. Despite the increased PARP-IR, PARP mRNA expression was not increased significantly. Immunohistochemical analyses revealed PARP-IR was increased in both white and gray matter of sALS spinal cord. While PARP-IR was predominantly seen in astrocytes, large motor neurons displayed reduced staining compared with controls. This result contrasts sharply to the staining of Alzheimer and MPTP-induced Parkinson diseased tissue, where poly(ADP-ribose) (PAR)-IR was seen mostly in neurons, with little astrocytic staining. PARP-IR was increased in the pellet fraction of sALS homogenates compared with control homogenates, representing potential PARP binding to chromatin or membranes and suggesting a possible mechanism of PARP stabilization. The present results demonstrate glial alterations in sALS spinal cord tissue and support the role of glial alterations in sALS pathogenesis. Additionally, these results demonstrate differences in sALS spinal motor neurons and astrocytes compared to brain neurons and astrocytes in Alzheimer disease and MPTP-induced Parkinson disease despite the presence of markers for oxidative stress in all 3 diseases.
Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology 02/2003; 62(1):88-103. · 4.35 Impact Factor