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Nat Genet. 2003 Aug;34(4):383-94.

VEGF is a modifier of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis in mice and humans and protects motoneurons against ischemic death.

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  • 1The Center for Transgene Technology and Gene Therapy, Flanders Interuniversity Institute for Biotechnology and Department of Neurology, University Hospital Gasthuisberg, KU Leuven, Leuven, B-3000, Belgium.

Abstract

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an incurable degenerative disorder of motoneurons. We recently reported that reduced expression of Vegfa causes ALS-like motoneuron degeneration in Vegfa(delta/delta) mice. In a meta-analysis of over 900 individuals from Sweden and over 1,000 individuals from Belgium and England, we now report that subjects homozygous with respect to the haplotypes -2,578A/-1,154A/-634G or -2,578A/-1,154G/-634G in the VEGF promoter/leader sequence had a 1.8 times greater risk of ALS (P = 0.00004). These 'at-risk' haplotypes lowered circulating VEGF levels in vivo and reduced VEGF gene transcription, IRES-mediated VEGF expression and translation of a novel large-VEGF isoform (L-VEGF) in vivo. Moreover, SOD1(G93A) mice crossbred with Vegfa(delta/delta) mice died earlier due to more severe motoneuron degeneration. Vegfa(delta/delta) mice were unusually susceptible to persistent paralysis after spinal cord ischemia, and treatment with Vegfa protected mice against ischemic motoneuron death. These findings indicate that VEGF is a modifier of motoneuron degeneration in human ALS and unveil a therapeutic potential of Vegfa for stressed motoneurons in mice.

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PMID:
12847526
[PubMed - indexed for MEDLINE]
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