Neuropathologic and biochemical changes during disease progression in liver x receptor β-/-mice, a model of adult neuron disease

Paolo Bigini, Knut R. Steffensen, Anna Ferrario, Luisa Diomede, Giovanni Ferrara, Sara Barbera, Sonia Salzano, Elena Fumagalli, Pietro Ghezzi, Tiziana Mennini, Jan Åke Gustafsson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

39 Scopus citations


In amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), there is selective degeneration of motor neurons that leads to paralysis and death. Although the etiology of ALS is unclear, its heterogeneity suggests that a combination of factors (endogenous and/or environmental) may induce progressive motor neuron stress that results in the activation of different cell death pathways. Alterations of brain cholesterol homeostasis have recently been considered as possible cofactors in many neurodegenerative disorders, including ALS. The liver X receptor β (LXRβ) receptor is involved in lipogenesis and cholesterol metabolism, and we previously found that adult-onset motor neuron pathology occurs in LXRβ mice. Here, we investigated neuromuscular alterations of LXRβ mice from ages 3 to 24 months. Increased cholesterol levels, gliosis, and inflammation preceded motor neuron loss and clinical disease onset; the mice showed progressivemotor neuron deficits starting from age 7 months. The numbers ofmotor neurons and neuromuscular junctions were decreased in 24-month-old mice, but neither paralysis nor reduced life span was observed. Moreover, other spinal neurons were also lost in these mice. These results suggest that LXRβ may inhibit neuroinflammation and maintain cholesterol homeostasis, and that LXRβ mice represent a potential model for investigating the role of cholesterol in ALS and other neurodegenerative disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)593-605
Number of pages13
JournalJournal of Neuropathology and Experimental Neurology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Jun 2010


  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Cholesterol
  • CNS inflammation
  • Glial cells
  • Liver X receptors
  • Motor neurons
  • Spinal neurons.

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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