Synaptic neurochemical alterations associated with neuronal degeneration in an inherited cerebellar ataxia of gordon setters

Michael J. Tiemeyer, Harvey S. Singer, Juan C. Troncoso, Linda C. Cork, Joseph T. Coyle, Donald L. Price

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10 Scopus citations


Canine Inherited Ataxia (CIA) is an autosomal recessive cerebellar disease of Gordon Setters associated with degeneration of Purkinje and granule cells. To define specific biochemical correlates of neuronal loss, synaptic neurochemical parameters were measured in three cerebellar regions (vermis, “pars intermedia,” and hemisphere) at early and late stages of this disease. At one and a half years of age, affected dogs showed the most severe lesions in the “pars intermedia,” with a 39% decrease in the number of Purkinje cells and a 29% decrease in granule cells. Neurochemical measurements demonstrated decreased [3H]muscimol binding and elevations in norepinephrine concentration (248% above control) and [3H]glutamate receptor binding (118% above control). At five years of age, reduction of Purkinje cells in the three cerebellar regions ranged from 63 to 91% while loss of granule cells was between 13 and 53%. [3H]Muscimol binding remained low throughout the cerebellum (38 to 39% of control) and norepinephrine concentration and [3H]glutamate binding were markedly reduced from the levels observed at one and a half years. Glutamate decarboxylase activity, [3H]QNB binding and GABA concentration were relatively unaffected. Our results indicate that neurochemical parameters associated with cerebellar neuronal systems demonstrate specific alterations in a chronic degenerative disorder. This study also indicates the importance of evaluating neurochemical measurements with regard to both spared and degenerating neuronal systems and emphasizes the role of compensatory neurochemical alterations in cerebellar degenerative disorders.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)580-591
Number of pages12
JournalJournal of neuropathology and experimental neurology
Issue number6
StatePublished - Nov 1984


  • Ataxia
  • Cerebellar
  • Cerebellum
  • Degeneration
  • Dog diseases
  • Neurotransmitters

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Pathology and Forensic Medicine
  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology
  • Cellular and Molecular Neuroscience


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