Disruption of neurovascular unit prior to motor neuron degeneration in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Kazunori Miyazaki, Yasuyuki Ohta, Makiko Nagai, Nobutoshi Morimoto, Tomoko Kurata, Yasushi Takehisa, Yoshio Ikeda, Tohru Matsuura, Koji Abe

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

138 Citations (Scopus)


Recent reports suggest that functional or structural defect of vascular components are implicated in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) pathology. In the present study, we examined a possible change of the neurovascular unit consisting of endothelium (PCAM-1), tight junction (occludin), and basement membrane (collagen IV) in relation to a possible activation of MMP-9 in ALS patients and ALS model mice. We found that the damage in the neurovascular unit was more prominent in the outer side and preferentially in the anterior horn of ALS model mice. This damage occurred prior to motor neuron degeneration and was accompanied by MMP-9 up-regulation. We also found the dissociation between the PCAM-1-positive endothelium and GFAP-positive astrocyte foot processes in both humans and the animal model of ALS. The present results indicate that perivascular damage precedes the sequential changes of the disease, which are held in common between humans and the animal model of ALS, suggesting that the neurovascular unit is a potential target for therapeutic intervention in ALS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)718-728
Number of pages11
JournalJournal of Neuroscience Research
Issue number5
Publication statusPublished - May 2011


  • ALS
  • Blood-spinal cord barrier
  • G93A
  • Neurovascular unit

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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