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J Neurol Sci. 1992 Oct;112(1-2):126-32.

Characterisation of the distribution of choline acetyltransferase messenger RNA in human spinal cord and its depletion in motor neurone disease.

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  • 1Department of Biochemistry, Charing Cross and Westminster Medical School, London, UK.


We have characterised the distribution of choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) mRNA in spinal cord from normal and motor neurone disease/amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (MND) subjects by in situ hybridisation. High concentrations of ChAT-mRNA were detected in 4 main regions of spinal cord, layer IX of the ventral horn, layer III of the dorsal horn, the intermediate grey matter and layer X around the central canal. ChAT mRNA was most highly concentrated in layers IX and III. Substantial decreases in ChAT mRNA were detected in ventral grey matter (layer IX) of cervical and lumbar cord in all cases of MND. Smaller and more variable changes in ChAT mRNA were seen in MND in other regions of spinal cord which indicates that these changes may arise as secondary processes. The value of this technique in understanding the pathophysiology of MND is discussed.

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