Motor neuron diseases and neurotoxic substances: A possible link?
College of Bio-information, Chongqing University of Posts and Telecommunications, Chongqing, PR China; Laboratory of Molecular Toxicology, State Key Laboratory of Integrated Management of Pest Insects and Rodents, Institute of Zoology, Chinese Academy of Sciences, Beijing, PR China.
The motor neuron diseases (MNDs) are a group of related neurodegenerative diseases that cause the relative selective progressive death of motor neurons. Exploring the molecular mechanisms underlying MND phenotypes has been hampered by their multifactorial nature and high incidence of sporadic cases, although genetic factors are considered to play a considerable role at present. However, environmental factors, especial exposure to neurotoxic substances, could induce neurotoxicity with the same phenotypes of specific MNDs. Organophosphate-induced delayed neuropathy (OPIDN) is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by ataxia and progression to paralysis, with a concomitant distal axonal degeneration and secondary demyelination of central and peripheral axons. The inhibition and subsequent aging of neuropathy target esterase (NTE) by organophosphate has been proposed to be the initiating event in OPIDN. NTE is characterized to be a lysophospholipase/phospholipase B mostly in the nervous system to regulate phospholipid homeostasis. Brain-specific deletion of mouse NTE contributes to the behavioral defects characterized by neuronal loss. Recently, mutations in human NTE have also been shown to cause a hereditary spastic paraplegia called NTE-related motor neuron disorder with the same characteristics of OPIDN, which supported the role of NTE abnormalities in OPIDN, and raised the possibility that NTE pathway disturbances contribute to other MNDs. Together with the identified association of paraoxonase polymorphisms with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, there is a possibility that neurotoxic substances contribute to MND in genetically vulnerable people by gene-environment interactions.