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Arch Ital Biol. 2011 Mar;149(1):101-11. doi: 10.4449/aib.v149i1.1259.

Autophagy activation in glutamate-induced motor neuron loss.

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  • 1Department of Human Morphology and Applied Biology University of Pisa, Italy.


Recent literature demonstrated that exposure to excitatory amino acid in specific experimental conditions might produce a defect in the autophagy pathway. Such an effect was observed in motor neurons exposed chronically to glutamate agonists. On the other hand, it is well known that glutamate induces motor neuron death and this is supposed to play a key role in the physiopathology of motor neuron loss in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Similarly, a defective recruitment of autophagy was recently documented in ALS. In the present study we found that exposure of motor neurons to kainic acid produces intracellular changes associated with defective autophagy. In this experimental conditions, pharmacological activation of autophagy rescues the loss of motor neurons.

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