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Frataxin (FXN) deficiency causes Friedreich's ataxia (FRDA), a multisystem disorder with neurological and non-neurological symptoms. FRDA pathophysiology combines developmental and degenerative processes of dorsal root ganglia (DRG), sensory nerves, dorsal columns and other central nervous structures. A dying-back mechanism has been proposed to explain the peripheral neuropathy and neuropathology. In addition, affected individuals have non-neuronal symptoms such as diabetes mellitus or glucose intolerance. To go further in the understanding of the pathogenic mechanisms of neuropathy and diabetes associated with the disease, we have investigated the humanized mouse YG8R model of FRDA. By biochemical and histopathological studies, we observed abnormal changes involving muscle spindles, dorsal root axons and DRG neurons, but normal findings in the posterior columns and brain, which agree with the existence of a dying-back process similar to that described in individuals with FRDA. In YG8R mice, we observed a large number of degenerated axons surrounded by a sheath exhibiting enlarged adaxonal compartments or by a thin disrupted myelin sheath. Thus, both axonal damage and defects in Schwann cells might underlie the nerve pathology. In the pancreas, we found a high proportion of senescent islets of Langerhans in YG8R mice, which decreases the β-cell number and islet mass to pathological levels, being unable to maintain normoglycemia. As a whole, these results confirm that the lack of FXN induces different pathogenic mechanisms in the nervous system and pancreas in the mouse model of FRDA: dying back of the sensory nerves, and pancreatic senescence.

Original publication

DOI

10.1242/dmm.024273

Type

Journal article

Journal

Dis Model Mech

Publication Date

01/06/2016

Volume

9

Pages

647 - 657

Keywords

Cell senescence, Dorsal root ganglia, Dying-back neuropathy, Friedreich’s ataxia, Islet of Langerhans, Muscle spindle