Forum for Science, Industry and Business

Sponsored by:     3M 
Search our Site:

 

Lou Gehrig's protein found throughout brain, suggesting effects beyond motor neurons

19.06.2008
Two years ago researchers at the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine discovered that misfolded proteins called TDP-43 accumulated in the motor areas of the brains of patients with amyotropic lateral sclerosis (ALS), or Lou Gehrig's disease.

Now, the same group has shown that TDP-43 accumulates throughout the brain, suggesting ALS has broader neurological effects than previously appreciated and treatments need to take into account more than motor neuron areas. Their article appeared in last month's issue of the Archives of Neurology.

"The primary implication for ALS patients is that we have identified a molecular target for new therapies," says co-author John Q. Trojanowski, MD, PhD, Director of Penn's Institute on Aging. "The other implication is that new therapies for ALS now need to go beyond treating only motor neurons."

Traditionally, ALS has been diagnosed based on muscle weakness and neurodegeneration of the upper and lower motor neurons that extend from the motor cortex to the spinal cord and brainstem motor neurons, which directly innervate voluntary muscles. For example, if you want to wiggle your big toe, the signal travels from the motor neuron in the cortex at the top of your head to a synapse on the lower spinal cord motor neurons in the lower back, which, in turn transmit the "wiggle" command by sending a signal to the muscles that move your big toe. Patients with ALS cannot wiggle their big toe or complete other voluntary muscle movements, including those carried out by their other extremities and eventually, by the diaphragm that moves air in and of their lungs.

The study was conducted by examining post-mortem brain tissue of 31 ALS patients. The accumulation of TDP-43 was imaged by detecting TDP-43 with an antibody specific for this protein. TDP-43 pathology was observed not only in the areas of the brain and spinal cord that control voluntary movements, as expected, but also in regions of the brain that involve cognition, executive functioning, memory, and involuntary muscle control. TDP-43 pathology was not observed in any of the controls that did not have ALS.

The pathological TDP-43 observed in ALS brains is different in two ways from normal TDP-43 that is found in most cells. The ALS-associated TDP-43 includes fragments of normal TDP-43 as well as other abnormally modified forms of TDP-43, and it is located in the cytoplasm of neurons; whereas, normal TDP-43 is found almost exclusively in the cell nucleus. In ALS, the pathological TDP-43 accumulates in large "globs," mainly in cell bodies.

"Our observation of TDP-43 in the brains of ALS patients suggests that ALS and two other neurodegenerative diseases called ALS- PLUS [ALS with cognitive impairments] and FTLD [frontotemporal lobar disease] may all have the same underlying molecular pathology involving abnormal TDP-43," says Trojanowski. "This constitutes a paradigm shift in the way we think about these diseases."

Current research is focused on understanding the basic biology of TDP-43 in cell culture systems. The research team is now trying to find out whether pathological TDP-43 causes nerve cells to lose their normal function or if they take on a toxic function. "The over-riding goal that drives our work is helping ALS patients," says Trojanowski.

Felix Geser, of Penn, was lead author on this study. Linda Wong, Maria Martinez-Lage, Lauren Elman, Leo McCluskey, Sharon Xie, and Virginia Lee, all of Penn, and Nicholas Brandmeir, of Albany Medical College, Albany, NY were co-authors. This research was supported by grants from the National Institute on Aging.

PENN Medicine is a $3.5 billion enterprise dedicated to the related missions of medical education, biomedical research, and excellence in patient care. PENN Medicine consists of the University of Pennsylvania School of Medicine (founded in 1765 as the nation's first medical school) and the University of Pennsylvania Health System.

Penn's School of Medicine is currently ranked #4 in the nation in U.S.News & World Report's survey of top research-oriented medical schools; and, according to most recent data from the National Institutes of Health, received over $379 million in NIH research funds in the 2006 fiscal year. Supporting 1,400 fulltime faculty and 700 students, the School of Medicine is recognized worldwide for its superior education and training of the next generation of physician-scientists and leaders of academic medicine.

The University of Pennsylvania Health System includes three hospitals — its flagship hospital, the Hospital of the University of Pennsylvania, rated one of the nation's "Honor Roll" hospitals by U.S.News & World Report; Pennsylvania Hospital, the nation's first hospital; and Penn Presbyterian Medical Center — a faculty practice plan; a primary-care provider network; two multispecialty satellite facilities; and home care and hospice.

Karen Kreeger | EurekAlert!
Further information:
http://www.uphs.upenn.edu

More articles from Studies and Analyses:

nachricht Multi-year study finds 'hotspots' of ammonia over world's major agricultural areas
17.03.2017 | University of Maryland

nachricht Diabetes Drug May Improve Bone Fat-induced Defects of Fracture Healing
17.03.2017 | Deutsches Institut für Ernährungsforschung Potsdam-Rehbrücke

All articles from Studies and Analyses >>>

The most recent press releases about innovation >>>

Die letzten 5 Focus-News des innovations-reports im Überblick:

Im Focus: Giant Magnetic Fields in the Universe

Astronomers from Bonn and Tautenburg in Thuringia (Germany) used the 100-m radio telescope at Effelsberg to observe several galaxy clusters. At the edges of these large accumulations of dark matter, stellar systems (galaxies), hot gas, and charged particles, they found magnetic fields that are exceptionally ordered over distances of many million light years. This makes them the most extended magnetic fields in the universe known so far.

The results will be published on March 22 in the journal „Astronomy & Astrophysics“.

Galaxy clusters are the largest gravitationally bound structures in the universe. With a typical extent of about 10 million light years, i.e. 100 times the...

Im Focus: Tracing down linear ubiquitination

Researchers at the Goethe University Frankfurt, together with partners from the University of Tübingen in Germany and Queen Mary University as well as Francis Crick Institute from London (UK) have developed a novel technology to decipher the secret ubiquitin code.

Ubiquitin is a small protein that can be linked to other cellular proteins, thereby controlling and modulating their functions. The attachment occurs in many...

Im Focus: Perovskite edges can be tuned for optoelectronic performance

Layered 2D material improves efficiency for solar cells and LEDs

In the eternal search for next generation high-efficiency solar cells and LEDs, scientists at Los Alamos National Laboratory and their partners are creating...

Im Focus: Polymer-coated silicon nanosheets as alternative to graphene: A perfect team for nanoelectronics

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are less stable. Now researchers at the Technical University of Munich (TUM) have, for the first time ever, produced a composite material combining silicon nanosheets and a polymer that is both UV-resistant and easy to process. This brings the scientists a significant step closer to industrial applications like flexible displays and photosensors.

Silicon nanosheets are thin, two-dimensional layers with exceptional optoelectronic properties very similar to those of graphene. Albeit, the nanosheets are...

Im Focus: Researchers Imitate Molecular Crowding in Cells

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to simulate these confined natural conditions in artificial vesicles for the first time. As reported in the academic journal Small, the results are offering better insight into the development of nanoreactors and artificial organelles.

Enzymes behave differently in a test tube compared with the molecular scrum of a living cell. Chemists from the University of Basel have now been able to...

All Focus news of the innovation-report >>>

Anzeige

Anzeige

Event News

International Land Use Symposium ILUS 2017: Call for Abstracts and Registration open

20.03.2017 | Event News

CONNECT 2017: International congress on connective tissue

14.03.2017 | Event News

ICTM Conference: Turbine Construction between Big Data and Additive Manufacturing

07.03.2017 | Event News

 
Latest News

When Air is in Short Supply - Shedding light on plant stress reactions when oxygen runs short

23.03.2017 | Life Sciences

Researchers use light to remotely control curvature of plastics

23.03.2017 | Power and Electrical Engineering

Sea ice extent sinks to record lows at both poles

23.03.2017 | Earth Sciences

VideoLinks
B2B-VideoLinks
More VideoLinks >>>