Infantile neuroaxonal dystrophy (INAD) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease characterized by the widespread presence of axonal swellings (spheroids) in the CNS and PNS and is caused by gene abnormality in PLA2G6 [calcium-independent phospholipase A2β (iPLA2β)], which is essential for remodeling of membrane phospholipids. To clarify the pathomechanism of INAD, we pathologically analyzed the spinal cords and sciatic nerves of iPLA2β knock-out (KO) mice, a model of INAD. At 15 weeks (preclinical stage), periodic acid-Schiff (PAS)-positive granules were frequently observed in proximal axons and the perinuclear space of large neurons, and these were strongly positive for a marker of the mitochondrial outer membrane and negative for a marker of the inner membrane. By 100 weeks (late clinical stage), PAS-positive granules and spheroids had increased significantly in the distal parts of axons, and ultrastructural examination revealed that these granules were, in fact, mitochondria with degenerative inner membranes. Collapse of mitochondria in axons was accompanied by focal disappearance of the cytoskeleton. Partial membrane loss at axon terminals was also evident, accompanied by degenerative membranes in the same areas. Imaging mass spectrometry showed a prominent increase of docosahexaenoic acidcontaining phosphatidylcholine in the gray matter, suggesting insufficient membrane remodeling in the presence of iPLA2β deficiency. Prominent axonal degeneration in neuroaxonal dystrophy might be explained by the collapse of abnormal mitochondria after axonal transportation. Insufficient remodeling and degeneration of mitochondrial inner membranes and presynaptic membranes appear to be the cause of the neuroaxonal dystrophy in iPLA2β-KO mice.
ASJC Scopus subject areas