Motor neuron degeneration promotes neural progenitor cell proliferation, migration, and neurogenesis in the spinal cords of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis mice

Stem Cells. 2006 Jan;24(1):34-43. doi: 10.1634/stemcells.2005-0076. Epub 2005 Aug 11.


The organization, distribution, and function of neural progenitor cells (NPCs) in the adult spinal cord during motor neuron degeneration in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) remain largely unknown. Using nestin promoter-controlled LacZ reporter transgenic mice and mutant G93A-SOD1 transgenic mice mimicking ALS, we showed that there was an increase of NPC proliferation, migration, and neurogenesis in the lumbar region of adult spinal cord in response to motor neuron degeneration. The proliferation of NPCs detected by bromodeoxyurindine incorporation and LacZ staining was restricted to the ependymal zone surrounding the central canal (EZ). Once the NPCs moved out from the EZ, they lost the proliferative capability but maintained migratory function vigorously. During ALS-like disease onset and progression, NPCs in the EZ migrated initially toward the dorsal horn direction and then to the ventral horn regions, where motor neurons have degenerated. More significantly, there was an increased de novo neurogenesis from NPCs during ALS-like disease onset and progression. The enhanced proliferation, migration, and neurogenesis of (from) NPCs in the adult spinal cord of ALS-like mice may play an important role in attempting to repair the degenerated motor neurons and restore the dysfunctional circuitry which resulted from the pathogenesis of mutant SOD1 in ALS.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / genetics
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / pathology*
  • Animals
  • Cell Movement
  • Cell Proliferation
  • Disease Progression
  • Lac Operon
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Motor Neurons / pathology*
  • Motor Neurons / physiology
  • Nerve Degeneration*
  • Spinal Cord / cytology*
  • Spinal Cord / metabolism
  • Stem Cells / physiology*
  • Superoxide Dismutase / genetics
  • Superoxide Dismutase-1


  • Sod1 protein, mouse
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Superoxide Dismutase-1