In mouse models of familial amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (fALS), motor neurons are especially vulnerable to oxidative stresses in vitro. To determine whether this increased vulnerability also extends to motor nerve terminals in vivo, we assayed the effect of tourniquet-induced ischemia/reperfusion (I/R) injury on motor terminals innervating fast and slow hindlimb muscles in male G93A-SOD1 mice and their wild-type littermates. These mice also expressed yellow fluorescent protein (YFP) in motor neurons. We report that in SOD1-G93A/YFP mice the motor terminals innervating two predominantly fast muscles, extensor digitorum longus (EDL) and plantaris, were more vulnerable to I/R injury than motor terminals innervating the predominantly slow soleus muscle. The mean duration of EDL ischemia required to produce a 50% reduction in endplate innervation in SOD1-G93A/YFP mice was 26 min, compared to 45 min in YFP-only mice. The post-I/R destruction of EDL terminals in SOD1-G93A mice was rapid (< 2 h) and was not duplicated by cutting the sciatic nerve at the tourniquet site. The increased sensitivity to I/R injury was evident in EDL muscles of SOD1-G93A/YFP mice as young as 31 days, well before the onset of motor neuron death at ∼ 90 days. This early vulnerability to I/R injury may correlate with the finding (confirmed here) that in fALS mice motor nerve terminals innervating fast hindlimb muscles degenerate before those innervating slow muscles, at ages that precede motor neuron death. Early vulnerability of fast motor terminals to I/R injury thus may signal, and possibly contribute to, early events involved in motor neuron death.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Developmental Neuroscience