Neurofilament protein levels: Quantitative analysis in essential tremor cerebellar cortex

Elan D. Louis, Karen Ma, Rachel Babij, Etty Cortés, Ronald K. Liem, Jean Paul G. Vonsattel, Phyllis L. Faust

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Essential tremor (ET) is among the most prevalent neurological diseases. A substantial increase in the number of Purkinje cell axonal swellings (torpedoes) has been identified in ET brains. We recently demonstrated that torpedoes in ET contain an over-accumulation of disorganized neurofilament (NF) proteins. This now raises the question whether NF protein composition and/or phosphorylation state in cerebellar tissue might differ between ET cases and controls. We used a Western blot analysis to compare the levels and phosphorylation state of NF proteins and α-internexin in cerebellar tissue from 47 ET cases versus 26 controls (2:1 ratio). Cases and controls did not differ with respect to the cerebellar levels of NF-light (NF-L), NF-medium (NF-M), NF-heavy (NF-H), or α-internexin. However, SMI-31 levels (i.e., phosphorylated NF-H) and SMI-32 levels (i.e., non-phosphorylated NF-H) were significantly higher in ET cases than controls (1.28 ± 0.47 vs. 1.06 ± 0.32, p=0.02; and 1.38 ± 0.75 vs. 1.00 ± 0.42, p=0.006). Whether the abnormal phosphorylation state that we observed is a cause of defective axonal transport and/or function of NFs in ET is not known. NF abnormalities have been demonstrated in several neurodegenerative diseases. Regardless of whether these protein aggregates are the cause or consequence of these diseases, NF abnormalities have been shown to be an important factor in the cellular disruption observed in several neurodegenerative diseases. Therefore, further analyses of these NF abnormalities and their mechanisms are important to enhance our understanding of disease pathogenesis in ET.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)49-54
Number of pages6
JournalNeuroscience letters
Issue number1
StatePublished - Jun 14 2012
Externally publishedYes


  • Essential tremor
  • Neurodegenerative
  • Neurofilament proteins
  • Pathophysiology
  • Purkinje cell
  • Western blot

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neuroscience(all)


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