2019 年 139 巻 4 号 p. 609-615
Diseases of the motor-conducting system that cause moving disability affect socio-economic activity as well as human dignity. Neurolathyrism, konzo, and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-parkinsonism-dementia complex (ALS-PDC) have attracted researchers to study the pathology of motor neuron (MN) diseases such as ALS. I have been studying neurolathyrism, which is caused by overconsumption of a legume grass pea (Lathyrys sativus L.). Among people who consume the legume as a food staple, many developed life-long paraparesis in their legs. β-N-oxalyl-l-α,β- diaminopropionic (l-β-ODAP; BOAA), contained in this plant, is a neurotoxic analog of l-glutamic acid. We have clarified that in addition to the causal involvement of α-amino-3-hydroxy-5-methyl-4-isoxazolepropionic acid (AMPA) type glutamatergic receptor in MN death, a toxic role of group I metabotropic glutamate receptors as well as transient receptor potential channels were involved in the MN insult by l-β-ODAP using primary MN culture. We have also established a neurolathyrism rat model by repeated, peripheral l-β-ODAP treatment to newborn rats under mild stress. Rats showing hind-leg paraparesis with an incidence rate of around 25% were useful to study the in vivo pathology of MN disease. MNs of these rats were greatly decreased at their lumbo/sacral segments at various ages. Intra-parenchymal hemorrhage was consistently observed in paraparetic rats but not in cripple-free, treated rats. MN were depleted even at an acute period around bleeding spots, suggesting catastrophic neuro-vascular-glial interaction in this MN disease. Summaries of konzo and ALS-PDCs studies are also introduced.