Date of Award

Summer 2001

Degree Type

Thesis - Restricted

Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)

Department

Biology

First Advisor

Mynlieff, Michelle

Second Advisor

Buchanan, James

Third Advisor

Piacsek, Bela

Abstract

Sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (SALS) is a devastating disease of unknown cause. Many hypotheses for the pathogenesis of SALS have been suggested, yet the mechanism of development remains elusive. In fact, this disease may result from several rather than one cause. Among the etiological hypotheses, some lines of evidence suggest neuronal death mediated by autoantibodies (IgG). The lgG may target calcium channels in motor neurons causing a sustained increase in calcimn influx through the ion channel, ultimately elevating the intracellular calcium concentration to a toxic level. Previous studies detected IgG within motor neurons of SALS patients and IgG from SALS patients have been shown to alter voltage gated calcium channel (VGCC) activity in various cell types. Results from these studies vary however; some show an increase in calcium channel activity, while others show a decrease. None of the previous studies have tested true motor neurons, the neurons known to degenerate in SALS. Therefore, the current study investigates the hypothesis that sera from SALS patients contain IgG that affect VGCCs in motor neurons.

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