One Traumatic Brain Injury Doesn’t Hasten ALS in Rodent Model

July 9, 2015

Researchers have shown that a one-time traumatic brain injury does not speed the development of disease in a model of ALS. The study sheds new light on the role of head trauma in the risk for ALS.

The large majority of cases of ALS are not linked to any known gene. Environmental factors such as head trauma have been suggested to increase ALS risk, based on epidemiological studies, but few lab-based investigations have been performed to assess the risk in a more controlled manner. In the current study, first author Gretchen Thomsen, Ph.D., senior investigator Clive Svendsen, Ph.D., and colleagues, tested the effect of a single head trauma on the onset and progression of motor neuron disease in rats carrying a mutation in the SOD1 gene, a genetic cause of ALS. They found no effect from this injury on either the time of onset of motor symptoms or the rate of disease progression.

“This study provides evidence that a single head injury is unlikely to play a role in development of ALS,” said Lucie Bruijn, Ph.D., M.B.A., Chief Scientist for The ALS Association. “The possibility remains that multiple traumas to the central nervous system may be a risk factor for the disease, a possibility that will need to be explored through further experiments.”

The study was published in the online journal eNeuro and is available here: http://eneuro.org/content/eneuro/early/2015/06/22/ENEURO.0059-14.2015.full.pdf

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