The pre-synaptic motor nerve terminal as a site for antibody-mediated neurotoxicity in autoimmune neuropathies and synaptopathies

Fewou, S.N., Plomp, J.J. and Willison, H.J. (2014) The pre-synaptic motor nerve terminal as a site for antibody-mediated neurotoxicity in autoimmune neuropathies and synaptopathies. Journal of Anatomy, 224(1), pp. 36-44. (doi:10.1111/joa.12088)

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Abstract

The pre-synaptic motor nerve terminal is a highly complex and dynamic compartment within the lower motor neuron responsible for converting electrical signals into secreted chemicals. This self-renewing process of synaptic transmission is accomplished by the calcium-triggered fusion of neurotransmitter-containing vesicles with the plasma membrane and the subsequent retrieval and recycling of vesicle components. Besides this conventional physiological role, the highly active process of vesicle fusion and re-uptake into endosomal sorting pathways acts as a conduit for entry of a range of substances into the intracellular compartment of the motor nerve terminal. Whilst this entry portal sub-serves many vital physiological processes, such as those mediated by neurotrophin trafficking, there is also the potential for substantial pathological consequences resulting from uptake of noxious agents, including autoantibodies, viruses and toxins. These may act locally to induce disease within the nerve terminal, or traffic beyond to the motor neuron cell body and central nervous system to exert their pathological effects. This review focuses on the recent evidence that the ganglioside-rich pre-synaptic membrane acts as a binding site for potentially neurotoxic serum autoantibodies that are present in human autoimmune motor neuropathies. Autoantibodies that bind surface antigens induce membrane lytic effects, whereas their uptake attenuates local injury and transfers any potential pathological consequences to the intracellular compartment. Herein the thesis is explored that a balance exists between local injury at the exofacial leaflet of the pre-synaptic membrane and antibody uptake, which dictates the overall level and site of motor nerve injury in this group of disorders.

Item Type:Articles
Status:Published
Refereed:Yes
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Willison, Professor Hugh and Fewou, Dr Simon
Authors: Fewou, S.N., Plomp, J.J., and Willison, H.J.
College/School:College of Medical Veterinary and Life Sciences > Institute of Infection Immunity and Inflammation
Journal Name:Journal of Anatomy
ISSN:0021-8782
ISSN (Online):1469-7580

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