Destabilization of faciliatory and inhibitory circuits is an important feature of corticomotor pathology in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). While GABAergic inputs to upper motor neurons are reduced in models of the disease, less understood is the involvement of peptidergic inputs to upper motor neurons in ALS. The neuropeptide Y (NPY) system has been shown to confer neuroprotection against numerous pathogenic mechanisms implicated in ALS. However, little is known about how the NPY system functions in the motor system. Herein, we investigate post-synaptic NPY signaling on upper motor neurons in the rodent and human motor cortex, and on cortical neuron populations in vitro. Using immunohistochemistry, we show the increased density of NPY-Y1 receptors on the soma of SMI32-positive upper motor neurons in post-mortem ALS cases and SOD1G93A excitatory cortical neurons in vitro. Analysis of receptor density on Thy1-YFP-H-positive upper motor neurons in wild-type and SOD1G93A mouse tissue revealed that the distribution of NPY-Y1 receptors was changed on the apical processes at early-symptomatic and late-symptomatic disease stages. Together, our data demonstrate the differential density of NPY-Y1 receptors on upper motor neurons in a familial model of ALS and in ALS cases, indicating a novel pathway that may be targeted to modulate upper motor neuron activity.
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Motor cortex
- Neuropeptide Y
- Upper motor neurons