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J Neurochem. 2002 Apr;81(1):170-7.

Overexpression of manganese superoxide dismutase attenuates neuronal death in human cells expressing mutant (G37R) Cu/Zn-superoxide dismutase.

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  • 1Free Radical and Radiation Biology Program, The University of Iowa, Iowa City 52242, USA. shawn-flanagan@uiowa.edu


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disease characterized by loss of motor function and eventual death as a result of degeneration of motor neurons in the spinal cord and brain. The discovery of mutations in SOD1, the gene encoding the antioxidant enzyme Cu/Zn-superoxide dismutase (CuZnSOD), in a subset of ALS patients has led to new insight into the pathophysiology of ALS. Utilizing a novel adenovirus gene delivery system, our laboratory has developed a human cell culture model using chemically differentiated neuroblastoma cells to investigate how mutations in SOD1 lead to neuronal death. Expression of mutant SOD1 (G37R) resulted in a time and dose-related death of differentiated neuroblastoma cells. This cell death was inhibited by overexpression of the antioxidant enzyme manganese superoxide dismutase (MnSOD). These observations support the hypothesis that mutant SOD1-associated neuronal death is associated with alterations in oxidative stress, and since MnSOD is a mitochondrial enzyme, suggest that mitochondria play a key role in disease pathogenesis. Our findings in this model of inhibition of mutant SOD1-associated death by MnSOD represent an unique approach to explore the underlying mechanisms of mutant SOD1 cytotoxicity and can be used to identify potential therapeutic agents for further testing.

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