Transforming growth factor beta (TGF-β) is a muscle biomarker of disease progression in ALS and correlates with smad expression

Academic Article


  • We recently identified Smads1, 5 and 8 as muscle biomarkers in human ALS. In the ALS mouse, these markers are elevated and track disease progression. Smads are signal transducers and become activated upon receptor engagement of ligands from the TGF-β superfamily. Here, we sought to characterize ligands linked to activation of Smads in ALS muscle and their role as biomarkers of disease progression. RNA sequencing data of ALS muscle samples were mined for TGF-β superfamily ligands. Candidate targets were validated by qRT-PCR in a large cohort of human ALS muscle biopsy samples and in the G93A SOD1 mouse. Protein expression was evaluated by Western blot, ELISA and immunohistochemistry. C2C12 muscle cells were used to assess Smad activation and induction. TGF-β1, 2 and 3 mRNAs were increased in ALS muscle samples compared to controls and correlated with muscle strength and Smads1, 2, 5 and 8. In the G93A SOD1 mouse, the temporal pattern of TGF-β expression paralleled the Smads and increased with disease progression. TGF-β1 immunoreactivity was detected in mononuclear cells surrounding muscle fibers in ALS samples. In muscle cells, TGF-β ligands were capable of activating Smads. In conclusion, TGF-β1, 2 and 3 are novel biomarkers of ALS in skeletal muscle. Their correlation with weakness in human ALS and their progressive increase with advancing disease in the ALS mouse suggest that they, as with the Smads, can track disease progression. These ligands are capable of upregulating and activating Smads and thus may contribute to the Smad signaling pathway in ALS muscle.
  • Published In

  • PLoS One  Journal
  • Digital Object Identifier (doi)

    Pubmed Id

  • 21402826
  • Author List

  • Si Y; Kim S; Cui X; Zheng L; Oh SJ; Anderson T; AlSharabati M; Kazamel M; Volpicelli-Daley L; Bamman MM
  • Volume

  • 10
  • Issue

  • 9