Complement activation at the motor end-plates in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

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Abstract

Background: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal progressive neurodegenerative disease with no available therapy. Components of the innate immune system are activated in the spinal cord and central nervous system of ALS patients. Studies in the SOD1G93A mouse show deposition of C1q and C3/C3b at the motor end-plate before neurological symptoms are apparent, suggesting that complement activation precedes neurodegeneration in this model. To obtain a better understanding of the role of complement at the motor end-plates in human ALS pathology, we analyzed post-mortem tissue of ALS donors for complement activation and its regulators. Methods: Post-mortem intercostal muscle biopsies were collected at autopsy from ALS (n = 11) and control (n = 6) donors. The samples were analyzed for C1q, membrane attack complex (MAC), CD55, and CD59 on the motor end-plates, using immunofluorescence or immunohistochemistry. Results: Here, we show that complement activation products and regulators are deposited on the motor end-plates of ALS patients. C1q co-localized with neurofilament in the intercostal muscle of ALS donors and was absent in controls (P = 0.001). In addition, C1q was found deposited on the motor end-plates in the intercostal muscle. MAC was also found deposited on motor end-plates that were innervated by nerves in the intercostal muscle of ALS donors but not in controls (P = 0.001). High levels of the regulators CD55 and CD59 were detected at the motor end-plates of ALS donors but not in controls, suggesting an attempt to counteract complement activation and prevent MAC deposition on the end-plates before they are lost. Conclusions: This study provides evidence that complement activation products are deposited on innervated motor end-plates in the intercostal muscle of ALS donors, indicating that complement activation may precede end-plate denervation in human ALS. This study adds to the understanding of ALS pathology in man and identifies complement as a potential modifier of the disease process.

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Bahia El Idrissi, N., Bosch, S., Ramaglia, V., Aronica, E., Baas, F., & Troost, D. (2016). Complement activation at the motor end-plates in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Journal of Neuroinflammation, 13(1). https://doi.org/10.1186/s12974-016-0538-2

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