Redox system expression in the motor neurons in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS): immunohistochemical studies on sporadic ALS, superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1)-mutated familial ALS, and SOD1-mutated ALS animal models

Acta Neuropathol. 2005 Aug;110(2):101-12. doi: 10.1007/s00401-005-1019-3. Epub 2005 Jun 28.


Peroxiredoxin-ll (Prxll) and glutathione peroxidase-l (GPxl) are regulators of the redox system that is one of the most crucial supporting systems in neurons. This system is an antioxidant enzyme defense system and is synchronously linked to other important cell supporting systems. To clarify the common self-survival mechanism of the residual motor neurons affected by amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), we examined motor neurons from 40 patients with sporadic ALS (SALS) and 5 patients with superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1)-mutated familial ALS (FALS) from two different families (frame-shift 126 mutation and A4 V) as well as four different strains of the SOD1-mutated ALS models (H46R/G93A rats and G1H/G1L-G93A mice). We investigated the immunohistochemical expression of Prxll/GPxl in motor neurons from the viewpoint of the redox system. In normal subjects, Prxll/GPxl immunoreactivity in the anterior horns of the normal spinal cords of humans, rats and mice was primarily identified in the neurons: cytoplasmic staining was observed in almost all of the motor neurons. Histologically, the number of spinal motor neurons in ALS decreased with disease progression. Immunohistochemically, the number of neurons negative for Prxll/GPxl increased with ALS disease progression. Some residual motor neurons coexpressing Prxll/GPxl were, however, observed throughout the clinical courses in some cases of SALS patients, SOD1-mutated FALS patients, and ALS animal models. In particular, motor neurons overexpressing Prxll/GPxl, i.e., neurons showing redox system up-regulation, were commonly evident during the clinical courses in ALS. For patients with SALS, motor neurons overexpressing Prxll/GPxl were present mainly within approximately 3 years after disease onset, and these overexpressing neurons thereafter decreased in number dramatically as the disease progressed. For SOD1-mutated FALS patients, like in SALS patients, certain residual motor neurons without inclusions also overexpressed Prxll/GPxl in the short-term-surviving FALS patients. In the ALS animal models, as in the human diseases, certain residual motor neurons showed overexpression of Prxll/GPxl during their clinical courses. At the terminal stage of ALS, however, a disruption of this common Prxll/GPxl-overexpression mechanism in neurons was observed. These findings lead us to the conclusion that the residual ALS neurons showing redox system up-regulation would be less susceptible to ALS stress and protect themselves from ALS neuronal death, whereas the breakdown of this redox system at the advanced disease stage accelerates neuronal degeneration and/or the process of neuronal death.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / genetics
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / metabolism*
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / pathology
  • Animals
  • Animals, Genetically Modified
  • Anterior Horn Cells / metabolism*
  • Anterior Horn Cells / pathology
  • Blotting, Western
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Glutathione Peroxidase / biosynthesis*
  • Humans
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Middle Aged
  • Mutation
  • Oxidation-Reduction*
  • Peroxidases / biosynthesis*
  • Peroxiredoxins
  • Rats
  • Superoxide Dismutase / genetics
  • Superoxide Dismutase-1
  • Up-Regulation


  • SOD1 protein, human
  • Peroxidases
  • glutathione peroxidase GPX1
  • Peroxiredoxins
  • Glutathione Peroxidase
  • Sod1 protein, mouse
  • Sod1 protein, rat
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Superoxide Dismutase-1