As in Alzheimer's disease, brains of Guam Chamorros with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and Parkinsonism-dementia complex (PDC) contain intraneuronal-paired helical filaments composed of accumulated phosphorylated tau protein. Tau mRNA expression in rat neuronal cultures-normally modulated by glutamate-increases after treatment with the aglycone of cycasin, a cycad-derived toxin whose concentration in Chamorro food varies with disease incidence. Elevated Tau gene expression in vitro is coincident with increased cycasin-related DNA adducts and reduced DNA repair. Cycasin and endogenous glutamate may together promote the accumulation of tau protein and neuronal degeneration in Western Pacific ALS/PDC.
Copyright 1999 Academic Press.