There is evidence of oxidative injury in postmortem brain, spinal cord, and CSF of patients with sporadic amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (SALS patients). We investigated the oxidative metabolism and calcium homeostasis in peripheral blood lymphocytes from such patients and did not find statistical differences in the basal oxygen consumption rate (QO2), cytochrome c oxidase activity, catalase activity, and lactate production. However the increase in QO2, induced by an uncoupler of oxidative phosphorylation, was depressed and the basal (resting) level of free cytosolic calcium ([Ca2+]in) was higher in lymphocytes from SALS patients (p < 0.01). Further increase in free [Ca2+]in challenged by a K+ channel blocker or by an uncoupler of oxidative phosphorylation was similar in SALS and control lymphocytes. The results show that systemic changes consistent with the presence of mitochondrial and of calcium metabolism dysfunction are present in SALS
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