Degeneration of axons in spinal white matter in G93A mSOD1 mouse characterized by NFL and α-internexin immunoreactivity

Brain Res. 2012 Jul 17;1465:90-100. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2012.05.018. Epub 2012 May 17.


Axonal degeneration is a prominent feature of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) both in lower motor nerves as well as descending white matter axons in the spinal cord of human patients. Although the pathology of lower motor axonal degeneration has been described in both human ALS and related transgenic animal models, few studies have examined the pathological features of descending axon degeneration, particularly in mouse models of ALS. We have examined the degeneration of white matter tracts in the G93A mutant superoxide dismutase-1 (mSOD1+) mouse spinal cord white matter from 12 weeks of age to end-stage disease. In a G93A mSOD1 mouse model where green fluorescent protein was expressed in neurons (mSOD1+/GFP+), degeneration of white matter tracts was present from the ventral to dorsolateral funiculi. This pattern of axonal pathology occurred from 16 weeks of age. However, the dorsal funiculus, the site of the major corticospinal tract in mice, showed relatively less degeneration. Immunohistochemical analysis demonstrated that the neurofilament light chain (NFL) and neuronal intermediate filament protein alpha-internexin accumulated in axon swellings in the spinal white matter. Increased levels of alpha-internexin protein, in mSOD1+ mouse spinal cord tissue, were demonstrated by Western blotting. In contrast, degenerating axons did not show obvious accumulations of neurofilament medium and heavy chain proteins (NFM and NFH). These data suggest that white matter degeneration in this mouse model of ALS is widespread and involves a specific molecular signature, particularly the accumulation of NFL and alpha-internexin proteins.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / genetics
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / metabolism
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / pathology
  • Animals
  • Axons / metabolism
  • Axons / pathology*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Female
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins / genetics
  • Humans
  • Intermediate Filament Proteins / metabolism*
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Motor Neurons / metabolism
  • Motor Neurons / pathology
  • Nerve Degeneration / genetics
  • Nerve Degeneration / metabolism
  • Nerve Degeneration / pathology*
  • Neurofilament Proteins / metabolism*
  • Spinal Cord / pathology
  • Spinal Cord / physiopathology
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / genetics
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / metabolism
  • Spinal Cord Diseases / pathology*
  • Superoxide Dismutase / genetics*
  • Superoxide Dismutase / metabolism
  • Superoxide Dismutase-1


  • Intermediate Filament Proteins
  • Neurofilament Proteins
  • SOD1 protein, human
  • alpha-internexin
  • neurofilament protein L
  • Green Fluorescent Proteins
  • Sod1 protein, mouse
  • Superoxide Dismutase
  • Superoxide Dismutase-1