Cellular changes in motor neuron cell culture produced by cytotoxic cerebrospinal fluid from patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Neurologia. Jul-Aug 2014;29(6):346-52. doi: 10.1016/j.nrl.2013.08.001. Epub 2013 Oct 19.
[Article in En, Spanish]


Introduction: The neurotoxic effects of cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) from patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) have been reported by various authors who have attributed this neurotoxicity to the glutamate in CSF-ALS.

Material and methods: Cultures of rat embryonic cortical neurons were exposed to CSF from ALS patients during an incubation period of 24 hours. Optical microscopy was used to compare cellular changes to those elicited by exposure to 100μm glutamate, and confocal microscopy was used to evaluate immunohistochemistry for caspase-3, TNFα, and peripherin.

Results: In the culture exposed to CSF-ALS, we observed cells with nuclear fragmentation and scarce or null structural modifications to the cytoplasmic organelles or to plasma membrane maintenance. This did not occur in the culture exposed to glutamate. The culture exposed to CSF-ALS also demonstrated increases in caspase-3, TNFα, and in peripherin co-locating with caspase-3, but not with TNFα, suggesting that TNFα may play an early role in the process of apoptosis.

Conclusions: CFS-ALS cytotoxicity is not related to glutamate. It initially affects the nucleus without altering the cytoplasmic membrane. It causes cytoplasmic apoptosis that involves an increase in caspase-3 co-located with peripherin, which is also overexpressed.

Keywords: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Caspasa-3; Caspase-3; Cerebrospinal fluid; Esclerosis lateral amiotrófica; Glutamate; Glutamato; Líquido cefalorraquídeo; Neurotoxicidad; Neurotoxicity; Periferina; Peripherin; TNFα.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / cerebrospinal fluid*
  • Animals
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid / chemistry
  • Cerebrospinal Fluid / metabolism*
  • Cytotoxins / pharmacology
  • Glutamic Acid / pharmacology*
  • Humans
  • Motor Neurons / cytology
  • Motor Neurons / drug effects*
  • Motor Neurons / metabolism
  • Rats


  • Cytotoxins
  • Glutamic Acid