Attenuated nuclear shrinkage in neurons with nuclear aggregates--a morphometric study on pontine neurons of Machado-Joseph disease brains

Exp Neurol. 2002 Nov;178(1):124-8. doi: 10.1006/exnr.2002.8028.


Nuclear aggregates (NAs) and neurodegeneration in brains from patients with Machado-Joseph disease (MJD) are both triggered by pathological expansion of CAG/polyglutamine repeat in ataxin-3, but it remains to be clarified whether NA formation is associated with accelerated neurodegeneration. In an attempt to clarify a possible influence of NAs on neurons in human brains, we quantified the size and deformity of neuronal nuclei (those with or without NAs, separately) cross-sectioned on pontine preparations of autopsied brains from four patients with MJD and five controls. Nuclear shrinkage and deformity were more marked in MJD brains than in controls, and these changes were attenuated in neurons harboring NAs. NAs of MJD are presumably linked to a mechanism that attenuates rather than accelerates nuclear shrinkage and deformity. This finding leads us to consider that NAs are not necessarily toxic to neurons in diseased human brains.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Inclusion Bodies / pathology
  • Machado-Joseph Disease / pathology*
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Nerve Degeneration / pathology
  • Neurons / pathology*
  • Pons / pathology*