The neural cell adhesion molecule (N‐CAM) is a cell‐surface glycoprotein that may mediate some intercellular adhesive interactions in the nervous system. In adult rat muscle, N‐CAM is concentrated near neuromuscular junctions and on satellite cells, but is nearly undetectable in nonsynaptic portions of myofibers. However, N‐CAM is abundant throughout myofibers in denervated and regenerating muscles. Using affinity‐purified antibodies to N‐CAM, we were able to demonstrate a similar distribution and regulation of N‐CAM in human muscle. Myofiber N‐CAM was not detectable immunohistochemically in any of 10 normal biopsies or in 4 biopsies that were abnormal but showed no evidence of fiber denervation or regeneration. N‐CAM was present, however, at end plates, nerves, and satellite cells in normal human muscle. In contrast, myofiber N‐CAM was detected in 16 of 16 patients with histological evidence of denervation and in 10 of 10 patients who had myopathy with degenerating/regenerating myofibers. In addition, 2 of 2 histologically nondiagnostic biopsies from patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis contained N‐CAM–positive myofibers. Immunoblot analysis also detected N‐CAM in denervated and myopathic, but not normal, human muscle. These results suggest that N‐CAM may play a role in muscle reinnervation or regeneration and that N‐CAM immunohistochemistry may complement conventional techniques in the diagnosis of neuromuscular disease.
Annals of Neurology – Wiley
Published: May 1, 1987
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