Modeling the neuroanatomic propagation of ALS in the spinal cord

Recent hypotheses of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) progression have posited a point-source origin of motor neuron death with neuroanatomic propagation either contiguously to adjacent regions, or along networks via axonal and synaptic connections. Although the molecular mechanisms of propagation are unknown, one leading hypothesis is a “prion-like” spread of misfolded and aggregated proteins, including SOD1 and TDP-43. We have developed a mathematical model representing cellular and molecular spread of ALS in the human spinal cord. Our model is based on the stochastic reaction-diffusion master equation approach using a tetrahedral discretized space to capture the complex geometry of the spinal cord. Domain dimension and shape was obtained by reconstructing human spinal cord from high-resolution magnetic resonance (MR) images and known gross and histological neuroanatomy. Our preliminary results qualitatively recapitulate the clinically observed pattern of spread of ALS thorough the spinal cord.

Brian Drawert, Nimish Thakore, Brian Mitchell, Erik Pioro, John Ravits, Linda R. Petzold
AIP Conference Proceedings
Volume: 1863
Number: 500002
Date: July, 2017
ICB Affiliated Authors: Linda R Petzold