The Journal of Neuroscience, August 15, 2001, 21(16):6214-6220
Acute Neuronal Apoptosis in a Rat
Model of Multiple Sclerosis
Roman Meyer2, Robert Weissert2, Ricarda Diem1, Maria K. Storch3, Katrien L. de Graaf2, Birgit Kramer1, and Mathias Bähr1
1 Neurologische Universitätsklinik, 37075 Göttingen, Germany, 2 Neurologische Universitätsklinik, 72076 Tübingen, Germany, and 3 Neurologische Universitätsklinik, 8036 Graz, Austria
Demyelination caused by inflammation of the CNS has been considered to be a major hallmark of multiple sclerosis (MS).
Using experimental autoimmune encephalomyelitis, a model of MS, we demonstrate that an immune-mediated attack of the optic nerve is accompanied by an early degeneration of retinal ganglion cells (RGCs).
The decrease of neuronal cell density was correlated with functional disabilities as assessed by visual evoked cortical potentials and electroretinogram.
Visual acuity was significantly reduced. DNA degradation and activation of caspase-3 in RGCs indicate that cell death of RGCs is apoptotic.
These findings show for the first time that an inflammatory attack against myelin components can lead to acute neuronal cell loss by apoptosis.