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Keywords:

  • cardiotrophin 1;
  • miRNA;
  • muscle activity;
  • NMJ;
  • SMN1;
  • SMN2;
  • spinal muscular atrophy

Abstract

Understanding the events that are responsible for a disease is mandatory for setting up a therapeutic strategy. Although spinal muscular atrophy (SMA) is considered a rare neurodegenerative pathology, its impact in our society is really devastating as it strikes young people from birth onward, and it affects their families either emotionally or financially. Moreover, it requires intensive care for the children, and this diverts both parents and relatives from their occupations. Each neuron is very different from one another; therefore, in a neurodegenerative disease, the population of axons, synapses and cell bodies degenerate asynchronously, and subpopulations of neurons have different vulnerabilities. The knowledge of the sequence of events along the lengths of individual neurons is crucial to understand if each synapse degenerates before the corresponding axon, or if each axon degenerates before the corresponding cell body. Early degeneration of one neuronal compartment in disease often reflects molecular defects somewhere else. Up until now, SMA is considered mostly a lower motor neuron disease caused by the loss-of-function mutations in the SMN1 gene; here, we inspect other features that can be altered by this defect, such as the cross talk between muscle and motor neuron and the role of physical inactivity.