Choline acetyltransferase activities in single spinal motor neurons from patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

J Neurochem. 1989 Feb;52(2):636-40. doi: 10.1111/j.1471-4159.1989.tb09167.x.


Activities of choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) were microassayed in individual cell bodies of motor neurons, isolated from freeze-dried sections after autopsy of lumbar spinal cords from four patients with sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and four control patients with nonneurological diseases. Numerous large neurons were found in the anterior horn at the early degeneration stage of ALS, but the cell bodies atrophied and decreased in number at the late advanced stage. The small, atrophied neurons were very fragile and were easily destroyed during the isolation procedure with a microknife. The average activity, expressed on a dry weight basis, of 58 ALS neurons was lower than that of 67 control neurons. The large, well-preserved neurons at the early nonadvanced stage had markedly lower ChAT activities than control neurons. The specific activity gradually increased with the progress of atrophy but did not return to the control level.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adult
  • Aged
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / enzymology*
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / pathology
  • Animals
  • Cats
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase / metabolism*
  • Cytoplasmic Granules
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Lipofuscin / metabolism
  • Male
  • Middle Aged
  • Motor Neurons / enzymology*
  • Motor Neurons / pathology
  • Spinal Cord / enzymology*
  • Spinal Cord / pathology


  • Lipofuscin
  • Choline O-Acetyltransferase