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

November 6, 2012

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".

Explore further: Disease progression halted in rat model of Lou Gehrig's disease

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

Related Stories

Disease progression halted in rat model of Lou Gehrig's disease

December 12, 2011
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS; also known as Lou Gehrig's disease) is an incurable adult neurodegenerative disorder that progresses to paralysis and death. Genetic mutations are the cause of disease in 5% of patients ...

Scientists identify mutation in SIGMAR1 gene linked to juvenile ALS

August 12, 2011
Researchers from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia have identified a mutation on the SIGMAR1 gene associated with the development of juvenile amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Study findings published today in Annals of Neurology, ...

Recommended for you

MRSA emerged years before methicillin was even discovered

July 19, 2017
Methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) emerged long before the introduction of the antibiotic methicillin into clinical practice, according to a study published in the open access journal Genome Biology. It was ...

New test distinguishes Zika from similar viral infections

July 18, 2017
A new test is the best-to-date in differentiating Zika virus infections from infections caused by similar viruses. The antibody-based assay, developed by researchers at UC Berkeley and Humabs BioMed, a private biotechnology ...

'Superbugs' study reveals complex picture of E. coli bloodstream infections

July 18, 2017
The first large-scale genetic study of Escherichia coli (E. coli) cultured from patients with bloodstream infections in England showed that drug resistant 'superbugs' are not always out-competing other strains. Research by ...

Ebola virus can persist in monkeys that survived disease, even after symptoms disappear

July 17, 2017
Ebola virus infection can be detected in rhesus monkeys that survive the disease and no longer show symptoms, according to research published by Army scientists in today's online edition of the journal Nature Microbiology. ...

Mountain gorillas have herpes virus similar to that found in humans

July 13, 2017
Scientists from the University of California, Davis, have detected a herpes virus in wild mountain gorillas that is very similar to the Epstein-Barr virus in humans, according to a study published today in the journal Scientific ...

Vaccines protect fetuses from Zika infection, mouse study shows

July 13, 2017
Zika virus causes a mild, flu-like illness in most people, but to pregnant women the dangers are potentially much worse. The virus can reduce fetal growth, cause microcephaly, an abnormally small head associated with brain ...

0 comments

Please sign in to add a comment. Registration is free, and takes less than a minute. Read more

Click here to reset your password.
Sign in to get notified via email when new comments are made.