Effect of diet on the survival and phenotype of a mouse model for spinal muscular atrophy

Biochem Biophys Res Commun. 2010 Jan 1;391(1):835-40. doi: 10.1016/j.bbrc.2009.11.148. Epub 2009 Nov 27.


Proximal spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is a leading genetic cause of infant death. Patients with SMA lose alpha-motor neurons in the ventral horn of the spinal cord which leads to skeletal muscle weakness and atrophy. SMA is the result of reduction in Survival Motor Neuron (SMN) expression. Transgenic mouse models of SMA have been generated and are extremely useful in understanding the mechanisms of motor neuron degeneration in SMA and in developing new therapeutic candidates for SMA patients. Several research groups have reported varying average lifespans of SMNDelta7 SMA mice (SMN2(+/+);SMNDelta7(+/+);mSmn(-/-)), the most commonly used mouse model for preclinical therapeutic candidate testing. One environmental factor that varied between research groups was maternal diet. In this study, we compared the effects of two different commercially available rodent chows (PicoLab20 Mouse diet and Harlan-Teklad 22/5 diet) on the survival and motor phenotype of the SMNDelta7 mouse model of SMA. Specifically, the PicoLab20 diet significantly extends the average lifespan of the SMNDelta7 SMA mice by approximately 25% and improved the motor phenotype as compared to the Harlan diet. These findings indicate that maternal diet alone can have considerable impact on the SMA phenotype.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • 3-Hydroxybutyric Acid / blood
  • Animals
  • Blood Glucose / analysis
  • Diet
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Muscular Atrophy, Spinal / diet therapy*
  • Muscular Atrophy, Spinal / mortality
  • Muscular Atrophy, Spinal / physiopathology*
  • Survival of Motor Neuron 1 Protein / genetics


  • Blood Glucose
  • Smn1 protein, mouse
  • Survival of Motor Neuron 1 Protein
  • 3-Hydroxybutyric Acid