Transgenic mice that express a mutant Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1) gene have been provided a valuable model for human amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We studied a possible impairment of fast axonal transport in transgenic mice carrying a Gly93 → Ala (G93A) mutant SOD1 gene found in human familial ALS (FALS). Left sciatic nerve was ligated for 6 h in transgenic (Tg) and age-matched wild-type (WT) mice. Immunohistochemical analyses were performed for accumulations of kinesin and cytoplasmic dynein on both sides of the ligation site. Clinical function and histology in the spinal cords, sciatic nerves and gastrocnemius muscles were also assessed. The mice were examined at an early asymptomatic stage (aged 19 weeks) and a late stage (30 weeks) just before the development of the symptoms. WT mice showed an apparent increase in immunoreactivities for kinesin and cytoplasmic dynein at proximal and distal of the ligation, respectively. In contrast, the young Tg mice showed a selective decrease of kinesin accumulation in the proximal of the ligation. The mice were asymptomatic with a mild histological change only in muscles. The old Tg mice showed a marked reduction of the immunoreactivity for kinesin and cytoplasmic dynein on both sides of the ligation. They had a significant loss of spinal motor neurons, relatively small myelinated fiber densities of sciatic nerves, and severe muscular changes. These results provide direct evidence that the SOD1 mutation leads to impaired fast axonal transport, particularly in the anterograde direction at an early, asymptomatic stage preceding loss of spinal motor neurons and peripheral axons. This impairment may contribute to subsequent selective motor neuron death in the present model implicated for human FALS.
- Axonal transport
- Transgenic mouse