Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an adult-onset, progressive, and fatal neurodegenerative disease with unknown etiology. Recent evidence suggests an association between the exposure to toxic environmental factors and sporadic ALS. The flavin-containing monooxygenases (FMOs) and paraoxonase (PONs) genes encode enzymes involved in xenobiotic detoxication and are associated with ALS. FMO and PON gene expression has been examined in the human central nervous system including human brain subregions defined as the spinal cord, medulla, and cerebral cortex and in the peripheral tissues (lymphocytes, fibroblasts) in ALS patients and normal control subjects. FMO expression was generally higher in tissues from ALS subjects than in control tissues, with the largest increases in FMO expression detected in the spinal cord. In peripheral tissues, the FMO mRNA level was found to be lower compared with FMO expression in brain tissue, and no differences were detected between ALS patients and the control tissue. FMO and PON gene expression was low in peripheral tissues. In contrast to FMO5 expression, the PON2 gene was down-regulated in ALS patients compared to the controls. Because FMO and PON are involved in the detoxication processes and their functional activity to bioactivate chemicals to toxins has been documented, the data herein suggest that environmental toxin exposure may play a role in a subset of individuals who contract ALS by altering FMO and PON gene expression. Although the precise pathogenic link is presently unknown, these findings suggest a role at FMO and PON genes in the development of ALS.
- Exposure to toxins
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