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Pathogenic mechanisms of neurodegeneration based on the phenotypic expression of progressive forms of immune-mediated neurologic disease

Authors Levin MC, Lee S, Gardner LA, Shin Y, Douglas JN, Groover CJ

Received 20 September 2012

Accepted for publication 30 October 2012

Published 5 December 2012 Volume 2012:2 Pages 175—187


Checked for plagiarism Yes

Review by Single-blind

Peer reviewer comments 5

Michael C Levin,1–3 Sangmin Lee,1,2 Lidia A Gardner,1,2 Yoojin Shin,1,2 Joshua N Douglas,1,3 Chassidy J Groover1,2

1Veterans Administration Medical Center, Memphis, TN, USA; 2Departments of Neurology, 3Neuroscience, University of Tennessee Health Science Center, Memphis, TN, USA

Abstract: Considering there are no treatments for progressive forms of multiple sclerosis (MS), a comprehensive understanding of the role of neurodegeneration in the pathogenesis of MS should lead to novel therapeutic strategies to treat it. Many studies have implicated viral triggers as a cause of MS, yet no single virus has been exclusively shown to cause MS. Given this, human and animal viral models of MS are used to study its pathogenesis. One example is human T-lymphotropic virus type 1-associated myelopathy/tropical spastic paraparesis (HAM/TSP). Importantly, HAM/TSP is similar clinically, pathologically, and immunologically to progressive MS. Interestingly, both MS and HAM/TSP patients were found to make antibodies to heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein (hnRNP) A1, an RNA-binding protein overexpressed in neurons. Anti-hnRNP A1 antibodies reduced neuronal firing and caused neurodegeneration in neuronal cell lines, suggesting the autoantibodies are pathogenic. Further, microarray analyses of neurons exposed to anti-hnRNP A1 antibodies revealed novel pathways of neurodegeneration related to alterations of RNA levels of the spinal paraplegia genes (SPGs). Mutations in SPGs cause hereditary spastic paraparesis, genetic disorders clinically indistinguishable from progressive MS and HAM/TSP. Thus, there is a strong association between involvement of SPGs in neurodegeneration and the clinical phenotype of progressive MS and HAM/TSP patients, who commonly develop spastic paraparesis. Taken together, these data begin to clarify mechanisms of neurodegeneration related to the clinical presentation of patients with chronic immune-mediated neurological disease of the central nervous system, which will give insights into the design of novel therapies to treat these neurological diseases.

Keywords: human T-lymphotropic virus type 1 (HTLV-1), multiple sclerosis, neurodegeneration, heterogeneous nuclear ribonucleoprotein A1 (hnRNP A1), autoimmunity, spastic paraparesis, RNA-binding protein

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