Glial activation and TNFR-I upregulation precedes motor dysfunction in the spinal cord of mnd mice

Tiziana Mennini, Paolo Bigini, Alfredo Cagnotto, Lucia Carvelli, Patrizia Di Nunno, Elena Fumagalli, Massimo Tortarolo, Wim A. Buurman, Pietro Ghezzi, Caterina Bendotti

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Mice homozygous for the spontaneous motor neuron degeneration mutation (mnd) show at the age of 8 months a marked impairment of the motor function and accumulation of lipofuscin granules in the cytoplasm of almost all neurons of the central nervous system. We previously reported a significant increase in GFAP protein levels in the lumbar spinal cord homogenates by western blot analysis and upregulation of TNF, a proinflammatory cytokine, in the motor neurons of lumbar spinal cord of mnd mice, already in a presymptomatic stage (4 months of age). In the present study, using immunohistochemical analysis, we performed a time course in mnd mice (1, 4 and 9 months of age) evaluating the expression and the distribution of astroglial and microglial cells and the expression of both TNF receptors, TNFR-I and TNFR-II. We observed a marked increase in astroglial and microglial cells and in TNFR-I immunoreactivity already at the 4th month. Since motor neuron dysfunction occurs in mnd mice in the absence of evident loss of spinal motor neurons, the present results indicate that the activation of microglial cells and astrocytes is independent from neuronal degeneration. The role of TNF and TNFR-I on motor neurons is still to be demonstrated.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)127-135
Number of pages9
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Feb 7 2004


  • Astrocytes
  • Microglia
  • mnd mice
  • Motoneuron diseases
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor Receptor

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Endocrinology
  • Molecular Biology
  • Immunology
  • Immunology and Allergy


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