Immunoglobulins from amyotrophic lateral sclerosis patients enhance spontaneous transmitter release from motor-nerve terminals
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an incapacitating neuromuscular disease of unknown etiology. Although laboratory evidence is lacking, circumstantial evidence supports the importance of immune factors in the pathogenesis of ALS. In the present study immunoglobulins from 4 of 8 ALS patients induced a significant increase in spontaneous quantal transmitter release as monitored by miniature end-plate potential (MEPP) frequency in mouse phrenic nerve-diaphragm preparations at 23 degrees C, whereas immunoglobulins from normal individuals and from patients with other neuromuscular diseases had no effect. At 32 degrees C neither normal nor disease control immunoglobulins influenced MEPP frequency, but 8 of 11 ALS immunoglobulin samples produced a significant increase in spontaneous quantal transmitter release. The enhancing effect could be prevented by 10 mM Mg2+. No effects were noted on MEPP amplitude and muscle resting potential. These findings suggest that the presynaptic terminal of the motor neuron may be an early target and that immunological factors may play an important role in the disease process.