Motor neurone metabolism

Vincenzo Silani, Andrea Ciammola, Antonio Pizzuti, Veronica Cardin, Guglielmo Scarlato

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The cell and molecular mechanisms which determine the motor neurone (MN) phenotype are unclear. Tissue culture models offer a unique system for the study of a wide variety of MN features. For instance, since the neurone- astrocyte metabolic interactions play a critical role in the selective MN loss observed in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), the glutamatergic MN toxicity could be reanalyzed in vitro, after a careful evaluation of the role of astrocytes. Ca2+ appears to be important in inducing MN loss from in vitro studies. It was shown primarily in culture that apoptotic or necrotic death of neurones after injury depends upon the cell energetic status. Also, SOD-1 mutations were successfully expressed in cultured MNs, providing a critical assay to sequence the molecular processes responsible for MN degeneration due to an identified genetic defect. Purified human developing MNs and astrocytes were recently obtained from the spinal cord anterior horn. The effects of molecules affecting MN survival, neurite extension, and metabolism can easily be tested in long-term cultures. Interactions at the single cell level can be studied today using a series of RNA amplification techniques. Understanding the properties of human MNs in vitro may represent a critical tool in defining regional metabolic changes that could constitute the first pathogenic event of cell degeneration in ALS.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)161-169
Number of pages9
JournalJournal of the Neurological Sciences
Issue number1-2
Publication statusPublished - Oct 31 1999


  • ALS
  • Astrocyte
  • Calcium
  • Glutamate
  • Human
  • Motor neurone
  • SOD-1
  • Tissue culture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Ageing
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Surgery
  • Neuroscience(all)
  • Developmental Neuroscience
  • Neurology


Dive into the research topics of 'Motor neurone metabolism'. Together they form a unique fingerprint.

Cite this