Guam amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-parkinsonism dementia linked to a plant excitant neurotoxin

Peter Spencer, Peter B. Nunn, Jacques Hugon, Albert C. Ludolph, Stephen M. Ross, Dwijendra N. Roy, Richard C. Robertson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

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Abstract

The decline in the high incidence of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, parkinsonism, and Alzheimer-type dementia among the Chamorro population of the western Pacific islands of Guam and Rota, coupled with the absence of demonstrable viral and hereditable factors in this disease, suggests the gradual disappearance of an environmental factor selectively associated with this culture. One candidate is seed of the neurotoxic plant Cycas circinalis L., a traditional source of food and medicine which has been used less with the Americanization of the Chamorro people after World War II. Macaques were fed the Cycas amino acid β-N-methylamino-L-alanine, a low-potency convulsant that has excitotoxic activity in mouse brain, which is attenuated by N-methyl-D-aspartate receptor antagonists. These animals developed corticomotoneuronal dysfunction, parkinsonian features, and behavioral anomalies, with chromatolytic and degenerative changes of motor neurons in cerebral cortex and spinal cord. In concert with existing epidemiological and animal data, these findings support the hypothesis that cycad exposure plays an important role in the etiology of the Guam disease.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)517-522
Number of pages6
JournalScience
Volume237
Issue number4814
StatePublished - 1987
Externally publishedYes

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Cycas
Guam
Neurotoxins
Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis
Parkinsonian Disorders
Dementia
Pacific Islands
Convulsants
World War II
Macaca
Motor Neurons
N-Methyl-D-Aspartate Receptors
Alanine
Cerebral Cortex
Spinal Cord
Seeds
Alzheimer Disease
Medicine
Amino Acids
Food

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • General

Cite this

Spencer, P., Nunn, P. B., Hugon, J., Ludolph, A. C., Ross, S. M., Roy, D. N., & Robertson, R. C. (1987). Guam amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-parkinsonism dementia linked to a plant excitant neurotoxin. Science, 237(4814), 517-522.

Guam amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-parkinsonism dementia linked to a plant excitant neurotoxin. / Spencer, Peter; Nunn, Peter B.; Hugon, Jacques; Ludolph, Albert C.; Ross, Stephen M.; Roy, Dwijendra N.; Robertson, Richard C.

In: Science, Vol. 237, No. 4814, 1987, p. 517-522.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

Spencer, P, Nunn, PB, Hugon, J, Ludolph, AC, Ross, SM, Roy, DN & Robertson, RC 1987, 'Guam amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-parkinsonism dementia linked to a plant excitant neurotoxin', Science, vol. 237, no. 4814, pp. 517-522.
Spencer P, Nunn PB, Hugon J, Ludolph AC, Ross SM, Roy DN et al. Guam amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-parkinsonism dementia linked to a plant excitant neurotoxin. Science. 1987;237(4814):517-522.
Spencer, Peter ; Nunn, Peter B. ; Hugon, Jacques ; Ludolph, Albert C. ; Ross, Stephen M. ; Roy, Dwijendra N. ; Robertson, Richard C. / Guam amyotrophic lateral sclerosis-parkinsonism dementia linked to a plant excitant neurotoxin. In: Science. 1987 ; Vol. 237, No. 4814. pp. 517-522.
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