The effects of sera from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients on neuromuscular transmission and calcium channels in mice

Dun Yan Hai Dun Yan, Jimok Kim, Jun Jung Sung Jun Jung, J. Kim

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a degenerative neuromuscular disease of unknown etiology in which the upper and lower motor neurons are progressively destroyed. Recent evidences support the role of autoimmune mechanisms in the pathogenesis of ALS. This study investigated the effects of sera from ALS patients on neuromuscular transmission in phrenic nerve- hemidiaphragm preparations and on calcium currents of single isolated dorsal root ganglion (DRG) cells in mice. Mice were injected with either control sera from healthy adults or ALS sera from 18 patients with ALS of sporadic form, for three days. Miniature end plate potential (MEPP) and nerve-evoked end plate potential (EPP) were measured using intracellular recording technique and the quantal content was determined. Single isolated DRG cells were voltage-clamped with the whole-cell configuration and membrane currents were recorded. Sera from 14 of 18 ALS patients caused a significant increase in MEPP frequency in normal Ringer's solution (4.62±0.14 Hz) compared with the control (2.18±0.15 Hz). In a high Mg2+/low Ca2+ solution, sera from 13 of 18 ALS patients caused a significant increase in MEPP frequency, from 2.18±0.31 Hz to 6.09±0.38 Hz. Sera from 11 of 18 patients produced a significant increase of nerve-evoked EPP amplitude, from 0.92±0.05 mV to 1.30±0.04 mV, while the other seven ALS sera did not alter EPP amplitude. In the ALS group, EPP quantal content was also elevated by the sera of 14 patients (from 1.49±0.07 to 2.35±0.07). MEPP frequency and amplitude in wobbler mouse were 4.03±0.53 Hz and 1.37±0.18 mV, respectively, which were significantly higher than those of wobbler controls (wobblers without the symptoms of wobbler). Sera from ALS patients significantly reduced HVA calcium currents of DRG cells to 42.7% at -10 mV. Furthermore, the inactivation curve shifted to more negative potentials with its half- inactivation potential changed by 6.98 mV. There were, however, significant changes neither in the reversal potential of I(Ca) nor in the I-V curve. From these results it was concluded that: 1) The serum factors of sporadic ALS patients increase neuromuscular transmission and can alter motor nerve terminal presynaptic function. This suggests that ALS serum factors may play an important role in the early stage of ALS, and 2) Calcium currents in DRG cells were reduced and rapidly inactivated by ALS sera, suggesting that in these cells, ALS serum factors may exert interaction with the calcium channel.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)101-117
Number of pages17
JournalKorean Journal of Physiology and Pharmacology
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - May 25 1999



  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Calcium channels
  • Dorsal root ganglion
  • Evoked transmitter release
  • Neuromuscular junction
  • Quantal content
  • Wobbler mouse

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Pharmacology

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