Upregulation of persistent sodium conductances in familial ALS

Vucic, Steve; Kiernan, Matthew C.
February 2010
Journal of Neurology, Neurosurgery & Psychiatry;Feb2010, Vol. 81 Issue 2, p222
Academic Journal
Background Upregulation of persistent Na+ conductances has been linked to axonal degeneration in sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and has also been reported in the transgenic superoxide dismutase-1 (SOD-1) mouse model. The mechanisms of ectopic activity (fasciculations and cramp) and axonal degeneration still require clarification in familial ALS (FALS) in humans, and specifically whether there are any differences to the processes identified in sporadic patients. Consequently, novel threshold tracking techniques were used to assess whether upregulation of persistent Na+ conductances was a feature linked to axonal degeneration in FALS. Methods Axonal excitability studies were undertaken in six FALS patients, 13 asymptomatic SOD-1 mutation carriers and 45 sporadic ALS (SALS) patients. Results Compound muscle action potential amplitude was significantly reduced in FALS (6.3±1.3 mV) and SALS (6.0±0.4 mV) compared with controls (10.0±0.4 mV, p<0.05). The mean strength duration time constant (SD) was significantly increased in FALS (0.55±0.10 ms, p<0.05) and SALS (0.52±0.02 ms, p<0.01) compared with controls (0.41±0.02). There were no differences in SD between asymptomatic SOD-1 mutation carriers and controls. The increase in SD correlated with the CMAP amplitude (r=0.4) and neurophysiological index (r=0.4). In separate studies that assessed cortical processes, short interval intracortical inhibition (SICI) was significantly reduced (FALS, 2.7±1.3%; controls 13.7±1.3%, p<0.0001) and intracortical facilitation increased (FALS, 5.0±2.2%; controls 0.4±1.1%, p<0.05) in FALS. The reduction in SICI correlated with SD (r=0.8).


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