Evidence for neuronal localisation of enteroviral sequences in motor neurone disease/amyotrophic lateral sclerosis by in situ hybridization

Chris J. Woodall, D. I. Graham

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    Sequences resembling those of human enterovirus type B sequences have been associated with motor neurone disease/amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. In a previous study we detected enteroviral sequences in spinal cord/brain stem from cases of motor neurone disease/amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, but not controls. Adjacent tissue sections to two of those strongly positive for these sequences by reverse-transcriptase polymerase chain reaction were analyzed by in situ hybridization with digoxigenin-labelled virus-specific antisense riboprobes. In one case, a female aged 83 showing 12 month rapid progressive disease, signal was specifically localized to cells identifiable as motor neurones of the anterior horn. In another case, a male aged 63 with a 60-month history of progressive muscle weakness, dysarthia, dyspnoea and increased tendon reflexes, signal was located to neurones in the gracile/cuneate nuclei of the brain stem tissue block that had been analyzed. This case showed loss of neurones in the anterior horn of the spinal cord by histopathologic examination which would account for clinical signs of motor neurone disease/amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Dysfunction of the gracile/cuneate nuclei might have been masked by the paralytic disease. These structures are adjacent to the hypoglossal nuclei, and suggest either localised dissemination from hypoglossal nuclei or a possible route of dissemination of infection through the brainstem to the hypoglossal nuclei. These findings provide further evidence for the possible involvement of enteroviruses in motor neurone disease/amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

    Original languageEnglish
    JournalEuropean Journal of Histochemistry
    Publication statusPublished - 1 Apr 2004



    • motor neurone disease
    • enterovirus
    • echovirus
    • in situ hybridization

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