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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 670756, 14 pages
Research Article

Plastic Changes in the Spinal Cord in Motor Neuron Disease

1Department of Translational Research and New Technologies in Medicine and Surgery, University of Pisa, Via Roma 55, 56126 Pisa, Italy
2IRCCS Neuromed, Via Atinense, 86077 Pozzilli, Italy
3Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine, University of Pisa, Via Roma 55, 56126 Pisa, Italy

Received 8 January 2014; Accepted 20 March 2014; Published 16 April 2014

Academic Editor: Ana Cristina Calvo

Copyright © 2014 Francesco Fornai et al. This is an open access article distributed under the Creative Commons Attribution License, which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.


In the present paper, we analyze the cell number within lamina X at the end stage of disease in a G93A mouse model of ALS; the effects induced by lithium; the stem-cell like phenotype of lamina X cells during ALS; the differentiation of these cells towards either a glial or neuronal phenotype. In summary we found that G93A mouse model of ALS produces an increase in lamina X cells which is further augmented by lithium administration. In the absence of lithium these nestin positive stem-like cells preferentially differentiate into glia (GFAP positive), while in the presence of lithium these cells differentiate towards a neuron-like phenotype (βIII-tubulin, NeuN, and calbindin-D28K positive). These effects of lithium are observed concomitantly with attenuation in disease progression and are reminiscent of neurogenetic effects induced by lithium in the subependymal ventricular zone of the hippocampus.