Down's syndrome: abnormal neuromuscular junction in tongue of transgenic mice with elevated levels of human Cu/Zn-superoxide dismutase

Cell. 1988 Sep 9;54(6):823-9. doi: 10.1016/s0092-8674(88)91153-1.


To investigate the possible involvement of Cu/Zn-superoxide dismutase (CuZnSOD) gene dosage in the neuropathological symptoms of Down's syndrome, we analyzed the tongue muscle of transgenic mice that express elevated levels of human CuZnSOD. The tongue neuromuscular junctions (NMJ) in the transgenic animals exhibited significant pathological changes, namely, withdrawal and destruction of some terminal axons and the development of multiple small terminals. The ratio of terminal axon area to postsynaptic membrane decreased, and secondary folds were often complex and hyperplastic. The morphological changes in the transgenic NMJ were similar to those previously seen in muscles of aging mice and rats as well as in tongue muscle of patients with Down's syndrome. The findings suggest that CuZnSOD gene dosage is involved in the pathological abnormalities of tongue NMJ observed in Down's syndrome patients.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Age Factors
  • Animals
  • Down Syndrome / physiopathology*
  • Gene Expression Regulation
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microscopy, Electron
  • Neuromuscular Junction / ultrastructure*
  • Superoxide Dismutase / genetics*
  • Tongue / innervation*
  • Tongue / ultrastructure


  • Superoxide Dismutase