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BioMed Research International
Volume 2014 (2014), Article ID 852163, 13 pages
Research Article

Accumulation of Misfolded SOD1 in Dorsal Root Ganglion Degenerating Proprioceptive Sensory Neurons of Transgenic Mice with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis

Unitat de Neurobiologia Cellular, Departament de Medicina Experimental, Facultat de Medicina, IRBLLEIDA, Universitat de Lleida and Institut de Recerca Biomèdica de Lleida, Avenida Rovira Roure 80, Lleida, 25198 Catalonia, Spain

Received 21 February 2014; Accepted 7 April 2014; Published 27 April 2014

Academic Editor: Ana Cristina Calvo

Copyright © 2014 Javier Sábado 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.


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an adult-onset progressive neurodegenerative disease affecting upper and lower motoneurons (MNs). Although the motor phenotype is a hallmark for ALS, there is increasing evidence that systems other than the efferent MN system can be involved. Mutations of superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) gene cause a proportion of familial forms of this disease. Misfolding and aggregation of mutant SOD1 exert neurotoxicity in a noncell autonomous manner, as evidenced in studies using transgenic mouse models. Here, we used the mouse model for ALS to detect, by means of conformational-specific anti-SOD1 antibodies, whether misfolded SOD1-mediated neurotoxicity extended to neuronal types other than MNs. We report that large dorsal root ganglion (DRG) proprioceptive neurons accumulate misfolded SOD1 and suffer a degenerative process involving the inflammatory recruitment of macrophagic cells. Degenerating sensory axons were also detected in association with activated microglial cells in the spinal cord dorsal horn of diseased animals. As large proprioceptive DRG neurons project monosynaptically to ventral horn MNs, we hypothesise that a prion-like mechanism may be responsible for the transsynaptic propagation of SOD1 misfolding from ventral horn MNs to DRG sensory neurons.