In familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS), there is a need to establish more precisely the progression of the disease, particularly whether there is gradual presymptomatic neuronal loss or an abrupt loss coinciding with the symptomatic stage. To elucidate this, we investigated the progression of motor neuron loss through morphological techniques, reactive astrocytosis, and expression of ubiquitin and neurofilament proteins, by immunohistochemistry, in SOD1 G93A mice with a protracted disease course and control mice. Loss of motor neurons in SOD1 G93A mice followed a biphasic progression, with an initial loss at 126 days of age, followed by a gradual loss from onset of symptoms through to end-stage disease. Reactive astrocytosis was first observed at 70 days of age and showed a gradual increase through to end-stage disease. This suggests that there is a need for early detection of fALS cases, and potential therapeutic treatments may be more beneficial if administered at an early stage.
Copyright 2001 John Wiley & Sons, Inc.