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Brain Res. 2018 Aug 15;1693(Pt A):98-108. doi: 10.1016/j.brainres.2018.02.011. Epub 2018 Feb 14.

Synaptic dysfunction and altered excitability in C9ORF72 ALS/FTD.

Author information

1
Division of Neurobiology, Barrow Neurological Institute, St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, Phoenix, AZ 85013, United States.
2
Division of Neurobiology, Barrow Neurological Institute, St. Joseph's Hospital and Medical Center, Phoenix, AZ 85013, United States. Electronic address: rita.sattler@dignityhealth.org.

Abstract

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is characterized by a progressive degeneration of upper and lower motor neurons, resulting in fatal paralysis due to denervation of the muscle. Due to genetic, pathological and symptomatic overlap, ALS is now considered a spectrum disease together with frontotemporal dementia (FTD), the second most common cause of dementia in individuals under the age of 65. Interestingly, in both diseases, there is a large prevalence of RNA binding proteins (RBPs) that are mutated and considered disease-causing, or whose dysfunction contribute to disease pathogenesis. The most common shared genetic mutation in ALS/FTD is a hexanucleuotide repeat expansion within intron 1 of C9ORF72 (C9). Three potentially overlapping, putative toxic mechanisms have been proposed: loss of function due to haploinsufficient expression of the C9ORF72 mRNA, gain of function of the repeat RNA aggregates, or RNA foci, and repeat-associated non-ATG-initiated translation (RAN) of the repeat RNA into toxic dipeptide repeats (DPRs). Regardless of the causative mechanism, disease symptoms are ultimately caused by a failure of neurotransmission in three regions: the brain, the spinal cord, and the neuromuscular junction. Here, we review C9 ALS/FTD-associated synaptic dysfunction and aberrant neuronal excitability in these three key regions, focusing on changes in morphology and synapse formation, excitability, and excitotoxicity in patients, animal models, and in vitro models. We compare these deficits to those seen in other forms of ALS and FTD in search of shared pathways, and discuss the potential targeting of synaptic dysfunctions for therapeutic intervention in ALS and FTD patients.

KEYWORDS:

ALS; C9orf72; Excitotoxicity; FTD; RNA metabolism; Synaptic dysfunction

PMID:
29453960
PMCID:
PMC5997509
[Available on 2019-08-15]
DOI:
10.1016/j.brainres.2018.02.011

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