A new development in the relief of spasms related to amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease with an occurrence rate in France similar to multiple sclerosis (two to three new cases per year for every 100,000 residents). It has a specific affect on neurons responsible for motor control, in particular motor neurones and central motor neurones. The former, located in the spinal cord, are directly linked to muscles and are used for muscle contraction and stretching. The latter, located in the brain, receive movement orders. As the disease develops, the neurons degenerate and the muscles are no longer stimulated and stop working. Movements, walking and speech become increasingly difficult and patients tend to pass away an average of two to five years after diagnosis, generally due to respiratory failure.

Paralysis is accompanied by other symptoms, which can be highly disabling on a daily basis. Spasms (or spasticity) are an exaggerated muscular response to a stimulus; they produce long and involuntary muscle contractions, coupled with pain. Spasticity is frequently observed in ALS. Until now, it was attributed to the loss of central .

In this study, Inserm researchers have shown that these spasms are, in fact, linked to the degeneration of another type of serotonin-producing neurons located on the brain.

They have observed - both in patients with ALS and in a - that serotonergic neurons waste away as the disease develops and that serotonin levels in the spinal cord sharply decreased before the motor-related symptoms appeared.

Furthermore, some molecules active against serotonin receptors eliminate spasms in suffering from ALS. This research demonstrates that neuron degeneration in ALS is not limited to the motor system in its strictest sense. For Luc Dupuis "molecules acting on serotonin receptors 5-HT2B and C could be antispastic for ALS patients over the long-term".

More information: Degeneration of serotonin neurons in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: a link to spasticity, brain.oxfordjournals.org/conte… 1/brain.aws274.short

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis: New genetic insights

Feb 08, 2011

(PhysOrg.com) -- In order to better understand the causes of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), also known as Lou Gehrig's Disease, a group of scientists at the Centre hospitalier de l'Universite de Montreal ...

Preserving nerve cells in motor neuron disease

Sep 20, 2010

A team of researchers, led by Scott Oakes, at the University of California, San Francisco, has identified a way to prevent symptom onset, weight loss, and paralysis and extend survival in a mouse model of amyotrophic lateral ...

Recommended for you

App for headache sufferers shows success

7 hours ago

A unique app that helps headache sufferers to record the severity and regularity of their pain is being used as part of a Griffith research study.

West African airline suspends flights amid Ebola (Update)

12 hours ago

(AP)—Police officers deployed to Liberia's international airport to ensure passengers are screened for Ebola symptoms as a major regional airline announced Tuesday it was suspending flights to the cities hardest hit by ...

User comments