Reversible induction of TDP-43 granules in cortical neurons after traumatic injury

Exp Neurol. 2018 Jan;299(Pt A):15-25. doi: 10.1016/j.expneurol.2017.09.011. Epub 2017 Sep 21.


Traumatic brain injury (TBI) has been proposed as a risk factor for neurodegenerative diseases, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). To determine whether TBI might trigger or exacerbate ALS-relevant pathology, we delivered a mild stab-wound injury to the motor cortex of three different ALS mouse models expressing mutations in SOD1, TDP-43 or FUS and scrutinized the effects on the formation of phospho-TDP-43 (pTDP-43) cytoplasmic granules. Stab-injury induced the formation of cytoplasmic TDP-43 granules in wt animals, peaking at 3dpi; a much larger response was seen in mutant TDP-43 mice, whose response peaked at 7dpi. The pTDP-43 granules did not colocalize with the stress markers TIAR-1 and FUS but colocalized with FMRP (35%) and with p62 (65%), suggesting their involvement in transport granules and their clearance by autophagy. A similar, albeit smaller effect, was seen in mutant FUS mice. In the SOD1G93A mouse model, neither increase in pTDP-43 granules nor in SOD1 aggregates were detected. In all cases, pTDP-43 granules were cleared and the number of pTDP-43-positive neurons returned to baseline by 40dpi. Neither injury-related neuronal loss nor motor performance or survival was significantly different in transgenic mice receiving injury vs sham mice. Thus, trauma can trigger ALS-related TDP-43 pathology, the extent of which is modulated by ALS-related mutations. However, the pathological findings prove reversible and do not affect disease progression and neuronal vulnerability.

Keywords: ALS; Cortical injury; TDP-43.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / pathology
  • Animals
  • Autophagy / genetics
  • Behavior, Animal
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / pathology*
  • Brain Injuries, Traumatic / psychology
  • Cytoplasmic Granules / pathology
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / genetics
  • DNA-Binding Proteins / metabolism*
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Immunohistochemistry
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Motor Cortex / injuries
  • Motor Cortex / pathology*
  • Motor Neurons / pathology
  • RNA-Binding Protein FUS / genetics
  • RNA-Binding Protein FUS / metabolism
  • Superoxide Dismutase-1 / genetics
  • Superoxide Dismutase-1 / metabolism


  • DNA-Binding Proteins
  • FUS protein, mouse
  • RNA-Binding Protein FUS
  • TDP-43 protein, mouse
  • Sod1 protein, mouse
  • Superoxide Dismutase-1