Imaging immunological processes from blood to brain in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Sandra Amor, Erik Nutma, Manuel Marzin, Fabiola Puentes

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articleAcademicpeer-review

3 Citations (Scopus)


Neuropathology studies of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and animal models of ALS reveal a strong association between aberrant protein accumulation and motor neurone damage, as well as activated microglia and astrocytes. While the role of neuroinflammation in the pathology of ALS is unclear, imaging studies of the central nervous system (CNS) support the idea that innate immune activation occurs early in disease in both humans and rodent models of ALS. In addition, emerging studies also reveal changes in monocytes, macrophages and lymphocytes in peripheral blood as well as at the neuromuscular junction. To more clearly understand the association of neuroinflammation (innate and adaptive) with disease progression, the use of biomarkers and imaging modalities allow monitoring of immune parameters in the disease process. Such approaches are important for patient stratification, selection and inclusion in clinical trials, as well as to provide readouts of response to therapy. Here, we discuss the different imaging modalities, e.g. magnetic resonance imaging, magnetic resonance spectroscopy and positron emission tomography as well as other approaches, including biomarkers of inflammation in ALS, that aid the understanding of the underlying immune mechanisms associated with motor neurone degeneration in ALS.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)301-313
Number of pages13
JournalClinical and experimental immunology
Issue number3
Early online date2021
Publication statusPublished - Dec 2021


  • amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • central nervous system
  • imaging
  • innate immune system
  • microglia

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