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Neurochem Int. 2006 Feb;48(3):201-7. Epub 2005 Nov 14.

Regional and temporal alterations of ODC/polyamine system during ALS-like neurodegenerative motor syndrome in G93A transgenic mice.

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Department of Biology, University of Bologna, Via Selmi 3, 40126 Bologna, Italy.


Natural polyamines (putrescine, spermidine and spermine) are ubiquitous molecules known to regulate a number of physiological processes and suspected to play a role also in various pathological conditions. Changes in polyamine levels and in their biosynthetic enzymes have been described for some neurodegenerative diseases but the available data are incomplete and somewhat contradictory. We report here alterations of the key enzyme of the polyamine pathway, ornithine decarboxylase (ODC) catalytic activity and polyamine levels in different CNS areas from SOD1 G39A transgenic mice, an animal model for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). ODC catalytic activity, was found significantly increased both in the cervical and lumbar spinal cord and, to a lesser extent in the brain stem of transgenic mice at a symptomatic stage of the disease (125-day-old mice), while no differences were present at a pre-symptomatic stage (55-day-old mice). In parallel with the increase of ODC activity putrescine levels were several times increased in both cervical and lumbar spinal cord and in the brain stem of 125-day-old SOD1 G39A mice. Higher order polyamines were not increased except for a significant increase of spermidine in the cervical spinal cord. The present data demonstrate considerable alterations of the ODC/polyamine system in a reliable animal model of ASL, consistent with their role in neurodegeneration and in particular in motor neuron diseases.

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