Characterization of neuronal intermediate filament protein expression in cervical spinal motor neurons in sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS)

J Neuropathol Exp Neurol. 2000 Nov;59(11):972-82. doi: 10.1093/jnen/59.11.972.


Because transgenic mice expressing an altered stoichiometry of neurofilament proteins develop a motor neuron degeneration associated with neurofilamentous aggregate formation similar to that found in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), we studied the expression of intermediate filament proteins in sporadic ALS. Archival cervical spinal cord paraffin-embedded sections from 11 disease and 11 control cases were studied by either in situ hybridization using 35S-labeled riboprobes or immunohistochemically using specific antibodies for the individual neurofilament subunit proteins, alpha-internexin, nestin, peripherin, vimentin, beta-actin, or Talpha1-tubulin. Median NFL, alpha-internexin, and peripherin steady-state mRNA levels were significantly reduced in the lateral motor neuron cell column (p < 0.05) of ALS cases, while neither NFM nor NFH mRNA levels were altered. ALS cases demonstrated an elevation of beta-actin mRNA levels (p < 0.01) with no increase in Talpha1-tubulin mRNA levels. No motor neuronal expression of nestin or vimentin was observed. Ubiquitin-immunoreactive perikaryal aggregates were immunoreactive for NFH or beta-actin, but not for peripherin, alpha-internexin, vimentin, or nestin. In contrast, neuroaxonal spheroids were strongly immunoreactive for NFH and peripherin, but not for beta-actin, alpha-internexin, vimentin, or nestin. These findings suggest that the stoichiometry of cytoskeletal protein expression in ALS spinal motor neurons is significantly altered in a pattern conducive to the formation of neurofilamentous aggregates.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / metabolism*
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / pathology
  • Animals
  • Cervical Vertebrae
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Neurons / metabolism*
  • Motor Neurons / pathology
  • Neurofilament Proteins / metabolism*
  • RNA, Messenger / metabolism
  • Statistics, Nonparametric


  • Neurofilament Proteins
  • RNA, Messenger