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Proc Natl Acad Sci U S A. 2009 Mar 17;106(11):4465-70. doi: 10.1073/pnas.0813339106. Epub 2009 Feb 27.

Schwann cells expressing dismutase active mutant SOD1 unexpectedly slow disease progression in ALS mice.

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  • 1Department of Medicine and Neuroscience, Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research, University of California at San Diego, La Jolla, CA 92093, USA.


Neurodegeneration in an inherited form of ALS is non-cell-autonomous, with ALS-causing mutant SOD1 damage developed within multiple cell types. Selective inactivation within motor neurons of an ubiquitously expressed mutant SOD1 gene has demonstrated that mutant damage within motor neurons is a determinant of disease initiation, whereas mutant synthesis within neighboring astrocytes or microglia accelerates disease progression. We now report the surprising finding that diminished synthesis (by 70%) within Schwann cells of a fully dismutase active ALS-linked mutant (SOD1(G37R)) significantly accelerates disease progression, accompanied by reduction of insulin-like growth factor 1 (IGF-1) in nerves. Coupled with shorter disease duration in mouse models caused by dismutase inactive versus dismutase active SOD1 mutants, our findings implicate an oxidative cascade during disease progression that is triggered within axon ensheathing Schwann cells and that can be ameliorated by elevated dismutase activity. Thus, therapeutic down-regulation of dismutase active mutant SOD1 in familial forms of ALS should be targeted away from Schwann cells.

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