Respiratory impairment in a mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Clarke G. Tankersley, Christine Haenggeli, Jeffery D. Rothstein

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

48 Scopus citations


Amyothrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive, lethal neuromuscular disease that is associated with the degeneration of cortical and spinal motoneurons, leading to atrophy of limb, axial, and respiratory muscles. Patients with ALS invariably develop respiratory muscle weakness and most die from pulmonary complications. Overexpression of superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) gene mutations in mice recapitulates several of the clinical and pathological characteristics of ALS and is therefore a valuable tool to study this disease. The present study is intended to evaluate an age-dependent progression of respiratory complications in SOD1G93A mutant mice. In each animal, baseline measurements of breathing pattern [i.e., breathing frequency and tidal volume (VT)], minute ventilation (VE), and metabolism (i.e., oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production) were repeatedly sampled at variable time points between 10 and 20 wk of age with the use of whole-body plethysmographic chambers. To further characterize the neurodegeneration of breathing, VE was also measured during 5-min challenges of hypercapnia (5% CO2) and hypoxia (10% O2). At baseline, breathing characteristics and metabolism remained relatively unchanged from 10 to 14 wk of age. From 14 to 18 wk of age, there were significant (P < 0.05) increases in baseline VT, VE, and the ventilatory equivalent (VE/oxygen consumption). After 18 wk of age, there was a rapid decline in VE due to significant (P < 0.05) reductions in both breathing frequency and VT. Whereas little change in hypoxic VE responses occurred between 10 and 18 wk, hypercapnic VE responses were significantly (P < 0.05) elevated at 18 wk due to an augmented VT response. Like baseline breathing characteristics, hypercapnic VE responses also declined rapidly after 18 wk of age. The phenotypic profile of SOD1G93A mutant mice was apparently unique because similar changes in respiration and metabolism were not observed in SOD1 controls. The present results outline the magnitude and time course of respiratory complications in SOD1G93A mutant mice as the progression of disease occurs in this mouse model of ALS.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)926-932
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of applied physiology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2007


  • Control of breathing
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Respiratory muscles

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Physiology
  • Physiology (medical)


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