Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is rapidly progressive adult-onset motor neuron disease characterized by the neurodegeneration of both upper and lower motor neurons in the cortex and the spinal cord; the majority of patients succumb to respiratory failure. Although the etiology is not yet fully understood, there is compelling evidence that ALS is a multi-systemic disorder, with peripheral inflammation critically contributing to the disease process. However, the full extent and nature of this immunological dysregulation remains to be established, particularly within circulating blood cells. Therefore, the aim of the present study was to identify dysregulated inflammatory molecules in peripheral blood cells of ALS patients and analyze for functional consequences of the observed findings. To this end, we employed flow cytometry-based screening to quantify the surface expression of major chemokine receptors and integrins. A significantly increased expression of CXCR3, CXCR4, CCL2, and CCL5 was observed on T cells in ALS patients compared to healthy controls. Intriguingly, the expression was even more pronounced in patients with a slow progressive phenotype. To further investigate the functional consequences of this altered surface expression, we used a modified Boyden chamber assay to measure chemotaxis in ALS patient-derived lymphocytes. Interestingly, chemoattraction with the CXCR3-Ligand IP10 led to upregulated migratory behavior of ALS lymphocytes compared to healthy controls. Taken together, our data provides evidence for a functional dysregulation of IP10-directed chemotaxis in peripheral blood cells in ALS patients. However, whether the chemokine itself or its receptor CXCR3, or both, could serve as potential therapeutic targets in ALS requires further investigations.
Research Areas and Centers
- Centers: Center for Neuromuscular Diseases