CHI3L1andCHI3L2overexpression inmotor cortexandspinal cordof sALS patients

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Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a rapidly progressive neurodegenerative disease characterized by the degeneration and death of upper (UMN) and lower (LMN) motor neurons. In the last decade, it has been shown that Chitinases are an important prognostic indicator of neuro-inflammatory damage induced by microglia and astrocytes.

Materials and methods:

We analyzed microarray datasets obtained from the Array Express in order to verify the expression levels of CHI3L1 and CHI3L2 in motor cortex biopsies of sALS patients with different survival times. We also divided the sALS patients into smokers and non-smokers. In order to extend our analysis, we explored two additional microarray datasets, GSE833 and GSE26927, of post-mortem spinal cord biopsies from sALS patients.


The analysis showed that CHI3L1 and CHI3L2 expression levels were significantly upregulated in the motor cortex of sALS patients, compared to the healthy controls. Moreover, their expression levels were negatively correlated with survival time. Interesting results were obtained when we compared the expression levels of Chitinases among smokers. We showed that CHI3L1 and CHI3L2 were significantly upregulated in sALS smokers compared to non-smokers. Furthermore, we found that four genes belonging to the Chitinases network (SERPINA3, C1s, RRAD, HLA-DQA1) were significantly upregulated in the motor cortex of sALS patients and positively correlated with Chitinases expression levels. Similar results were obtained during the exploration of the two-microarray dataset.


This study suggests that CHI3L1 and CHI3L2 are associated with the progression of neurodegeneration in motor cortex and spinal cord of sALS patients.

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