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J Neurol Sci. 1998 Oct 8;160(2):140-7.

Collagen abnormalities in the spinal cord from patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

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  • 1Department of Neurology, Teikyo University School of Medicine, Ichihara Hospital, Anesaki, Chiba, Japan.


During the last 10 years, we have demonstrated morphological and biochemical abnormalities of skin extracellular matrices in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). However, currently little is known concerning collagen of the spinal cord in ALS. We measured the amount of collagen and characterized collagen at light and electron microscopic levels in posterior funiculus, posterior half of lateral funiculus and anterior horn of cervical enlargement of the spinal cord obtained from ten patients with ALS, 11 patients with other neurologic diseases (control group A), and ten patients without neurologic ones (control group B). In posterior half of lateral funiculus and anterior horn, (1) by light microscopy, there was no significant difference in vessel wall area between ALS patients and control groups A and B; (2) ultrastructurally, collagen bundles were more fragmented and widely separated, and the fibrils were randomly oriented in the perivascular space of capillaries in ALS patients, which were not observed in any areas of control groups or in posterior funiculus of ALS patients; and (3) the collagen contents in ALS were significantly lower (P<0.001 and P<0.001, respectively) than those in control groups A and B. Fragmented and widely separated collagen bundles in the interstitial tissue surrounding capillaries and markedly decreased amount of collagen in posterior half of lateral funiculus and in anterior horn of ALS could be related to the degeneration of the upper and lower motor neurons in the spinal cord in ALS, that is, selective neuronal vulnerability in ALS.

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