Selective vulnerability of alpha motor neurons in ALS: relation to autoantibodies toward acetylcholinesterase (AChE) in ALS patients

Brain Res Bull. 1993;30(3-4):369-71. doi: 10.1016/0361-9230(93)90267-f.


The degenerative process in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) concerns primarily alpha motor neurons in the spinal cord and brain stem, and neurons forming descending pathways to the cord, especially in the pyramidal tract. Some degeneration of large peripheral sensory nerve fibers often occurs too, but preganglionic autonomic neurons and gamma motor neurons are most often spared in the disease. The vulnerability of alpha motor neurons compared to other types of neurons in ALS is discussed in relation to retrograde axoplasmic transport from peripheral blood of foreign noxious macromolecules, interneuronal transport of such molecules, and neuronal surface structure properties relevant to uptake for retrograde axoplasmic transport. Certain differences in these aspects between alpha motor neurons and other neuronal types exist. Some differences concern the neuronal turnover of acetylcholinesterase (AChE), which could be of special interest in view of the recent demonstration of regular occurrence of autoantibodies towards this enzyme in ALS patients.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study

MeSH terms

  • Acetylcholinesterase / immunology*
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / immunology*
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / pathology
  • Autoantibodies / analysis*
  • Humans
  • Motor Neurons / pathology
  • Motor Neurons / physiology*
  • Nerve Degeneration / physiology*
  • Sensitivity and Specificity


  • Autoantibodies
  • Acetylcholinesterase