ABSTRACT: A detailed pathologic analysis was performed on Smn(-/-);SMN2 mice as a mouse model for human type I spinal muscular atrophy (SMA). We provide new data concerning changes in the spinal cord, neuromuscular junctions and muscle cells, and in the organs of the immune system. The expression of 10 synaptic proteins was analyzed in 3-dimensionally reconstructed neuromuscular junctions by confocal microscopy. In addition to defects in postsynaptic occupancy, there was a marked reduction in calcitonin gene-related peptide and Rab3A in the presynaptic motor terminals of some, but not all, of the skeletal muscles analyzed. Defects in the organization of presynaptic nerve terminals were also detected by electron microscopy. Moreover, degenerative changes in muscle cells, defective postnatal muscle growth, and prominent muscle satellite cell apoptosis were also observed. All of these changes occurred in the absence of massive loss of spinal cord motoneurons. On the other hand, astroglia, but not microglia, increased in the ventral horn of newborn SMA mice. In skeletal muscles, the density of interstitial macrophages was significantly reduced, and monocyte chemotactic protein-1 was downregulated. These findings raise questions regarding the primary contribution of a muscle cell defect to the SMA phenotype.
Journal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology 06/2011; 70(6):444-61. · 4.26 Impact Factor