Publications (3)32.29 Total impact
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ABSTRACT: Lack of frataxin in Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA) causes a complex neurological and pathological phenotype. Progressive atrophy of the dentate nucleus (DN) is a major intrinsic central nervous system lesion. Antibodies to neuron-specific enolase (NSE), calbindin, glutamic acid decarboxylase (GAD), and vesicular glutamate transporters 1 and 2 (VGluT1, VGluT2) allowed insight into the disturbed synaptic circuitry of the DN. The available case material included autopsy specimens of 24 patients with genetically defined FRDA and 14 normal controls. In FRDA, the cerebellar cortex revealed intact Purkinje cell somata and dendrites as assessed by calbindin immunoreactivity. The DN, however, displayed severe loss of large NSE-reactive neurons. Small neurons remained intact. Labeling of Purkinje cells, basket fibers, Golgi neurons, and Golgi axonal plexuses with antibodies to GAD indicated normal intrinsic circuitry of the cerebellar cortex involving γ-aminobutyric acid (GABA). In contrast, the DN displayed severe loss of GABA-ergic terminals and formation of GAD- and calbindin-reactive grumose degeneration. The surviving small GAD-positive DN neurons provided normal GABA-ergic terminals to intact inferior olivary nuclei. The olives also received normal glutamatergic terminals as shown by VGluT2-reactivity. VGluT1-immunocytochemistry of the cerebellar cortex confirmed normal glutamatergic input to the molecular layer by parallel fibers and the granular layer by mossy fibers. VGluT2-immunoreactivity visualized normal climbing fibers and mossy fiber terminals. The DN, however, showed depletion of VGluT1- and VGluT2-reactive terminals arising from climbing and mossy fiber collaterals. The main functional deficit underlying cerebellar ataxia in FRDA is defective processing of inhibitory and excitatory impulses that converge on the large neurons of the DN. The reason for the selective vulnerability of these nerve cells remains elusive.
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ABSTRACT: Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA) causes a complex neuropathological phenotype with characteristic lesions of dorsal root ganglia (DRG); dorsal spinal roots; dorsal nuclei of Clarke; spinocerebellar and corticospinal tracts; dentate nuclei; and sensory nerves. This report presents a systematic morphological analysis of sural nerves obtained by autopsy of six patients with genetically confirmed FRDA. The outstanding lesion consisted of lack of myelinated fibers whereas axons were present in normal numbers. On cross-sections, only 11% of all class III-beta-tubulin-positive axons were myelinated in FRDA, contrasting with 36% in normal control nerves. Despite their paucity, thin myelinated fibers assembled compact sheaths containing the peripheral myelin proteins PMP-22, P(0), and myelin basic protein. The nerves displayed major modifications in Schwann cells that were apparent by laminin 2 and S100alpha immunocytochemistry. Few S100alpha-immunoreactive cells remained detectable whereas laminin 2 reaction product was abundant. The normal honeycomb-like distribution of laminin 2 around myelinated fibers was replaced by confluent regions of reaction product that enveloped clusters of closely apposed thin axons. Electron microscopy not only confirmed the lack of myelin but also showed abnormal Schwann cells and axons. Ferritin localized to normal Schwann cell cytoplasm. In the sensory nerves of patients with FRDA, the distribution of this protein strongly resembled laminin 2, but there was no net increase of the total ferritin-reactive area. Ferroportin reaction product occurred in all axons of sural nerves in FRDA, which was at variance with dorsal spinal roots. In the pathogenesis of sensory neuropathy in FRDA, two mechanisms are likely: hypomyelination due to faulty interaction between axons and Schwann cells; and slow axonal degeneration. Neurons of DRG, satellite cells, Schwann cells, and axons of sensory nerves and dorsal spinal roots derive from the neural crest, and hypomyelination in FRDA may be attributed to defects of regulation or migration of shared precursor cells. Sural nerves in FRDA showed no convincing change in ferritin and ferroportin, militating against local iron dysmetabolism. The result stands out in contrast to the previously reported changes in dorsal spinal roots of patients with FRDA.
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ABSTRACT: Atrophy of dorsal root ganglia (DRG) and thinning of dorsal roots (DR) are hallmarks of Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA). Many previous authors also emphasized the selective vulnerability of larger neurons in DRG and thicker myelinated DR axons. This report is based on a systematic reexamination of DRG, DR and ventral roots (VR) in 19 genetically confirmed cases of FRDA by immunocytochemistry and single- and double-label immunofluorescence with antibodies to specific proteins of myelin, neurons and axons; S-100alpha as a marker of satellite and Schwann cells; laminin; and the iron-responsive proteins ferritin, mitochondrial ferritin, and ferroportin. Confocal images of axons and myelin allowed the quantitative analysis of fiber density and size, and the extent of DR and VR myelination. A novel technology, high-definition X-ray fluorescence (HDXRF) of polyethylene glycol-embedded fixed tissue, was used to "map" iron in DRG. Unfixed frozen tissue of DRG in three cases was available for the chemical assay of total iron. Proliferation of S-100alpha-positive satellite cells accompanied neuronal destruction in DRG of all FRDA cases. Double-label visualization of peripheral nerve myelin protein 22 and phosphorylated neurofilament protein confirmed the known loss of large myelinated DR fibers, but quantitative fiber counts per unit area did not change. The ratio of myelinated to neurofilament-positive fibers in DR rose significantly from 0.55 to 0.66. In VR of FRDA patients, fiber counts and degree of myelination did not differ from normal. Pooled histograms of axonal perimeters disclosed a shift to thinner fibers in DR, but also a modest excess of smaller axons in VR. Schwann cell cytoplasm in DR of FRDA was depleted while laminin reaction product remained prominent. Numerous small axons clustered around fewer Schwann cells. Ferritin in normal DRG localized to satellite cells, and proliferation of these cells in FRDA caused wide rims of reaction product about degenerating nerve cells. Mitochondrial ferritin was not detectable. Ferroportin was present in the cytoplasm of normal satellite cells and neurons, and in large axons of DR and VR. In FRDA, some DRG neurons lost their cytoplasmic ferroportin immunoreactivity, whereas the cytoplasm of satellite cells remained ferroportin positive. Ferroportin in DR axons disappeared in parallel with atrophy of large fibers. HDXRF of DRG detected regional and diffuse increases in iron fluorescence that matched ferritin expression in satellite cells. The observations support the conclusions that satellite cells and DRG neurons are affected by iron dysmetabolism; and that regeneration and inappropriate myelination of small axons in DR are characteristic of the disease.