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Acta Neuropathol. 2011 May;121(5):623-34. doi: 10.1007/s00401-011-0805-3. Epub 2011 Feb 3.

Glial nuclear aggregates of superoxide dismutase-1 are regularly present in patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

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  • 1Department of Medical Biosciences, Pathology, Umeå University, SE-901 85, Umeå, Sweden.


The most common cause of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is mutations in superoxide dismutase-1 (SOD1). Since there is evidence for the involvement of non-neuronal cells in ALS, we searched for signs of SOD1 abnormalities focusing on glia. Spinal cords from nine ALS patients carrying SOD1 mutations, 51 patients with sporadic or familial ALS who lacked such mutations, and 46 controls were examined by immunohistochemistry. A set of anti-peptide antibodies with specificity for misfolded SOD1 species was used. Misfolded SOD1 in the form of granular aggregates was regularly detected in the nuclei of ventral horn astrocytes, microglia, and oligodendrocytes in ALS patients carrying or lacking SOD1 mutations. There was negligible staining in neurodegenerative and non-neurological controls. Misfolded SOD1 appeared occasionally also in nuclei of motoneurons of ALS patients. The results suggest that misfolded SOD1 present in glial and motoneuron nuclei may generally be involved in ALS pathogenesis.

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