Neurological Disorder


  • Professor: Hidenao Sasaki
  • Associate Professor: Ichiro Yabe
  • Assistant Professor: Ikuko Takahashi
  • Phone: +81-11-706-6028
  • FAX: +81-11-700-5356
  • E-mail: neurosec
Our Neurology Department has the first established Chair of Neurology in Hokkaido. Since its foundation, we had provided not only student education in neurology but also postgraduate training for Hokkaido University and other institutions of higher learning. Our goal is to contribute to the community, not only through medical management of neurological disorders but also by assisting in a medical specialist's upbringing, training, and research. Approximately 70 doctors have obtained Board Certification from the Japanese Society of Neurology at our facility. Active communication through our network of neuroscience specialties (including Departments of Neurosurgery, Neuroradiology, Neurophysiology, Neuropharmacology, Neuropathology, and Biochemistry) allows for greater sharing of knowledge and expands our research opportunities.


Multiple Sclerosis:
Many patients in Hokkaido are affected with this disease, as multiple sclerosis (MS) is frequently seen at higher latitudes. Though the primary therapy to date has been the use of immunosuppressive agents (such as steroids), interferon therapy has recently been found to help prevent symptom recurrence. Multiple sclerosis is an intractable disorder and there is no known cure; we are currently studying clinical data which can be applied to new treatment regimens.
Spinocerebellar Degeneration:
Hereditary spinocerebeller ataxia (hSCA) is genetically heterogeneous; the clinical diagnosis of subtypes of SCAs is complicated by the overlap of phenotype variations. To date, 29 different genetic loci have been reported to be responsible for hSCAs. In most hSCAs, the expansion of CAG repeats in specific genes leads to long abnormal polyglutamine (polyQ) tracts in the encoded proteins. Recently, deletions and/or point mutations have been identified in some hSCAs. Our laboratory was the first to document the association with SCA14. We are also studying the clinical and molecular genetics of multiple system atrophy (MSA). To obtain useful clues for the future treatment of MSA and SCD, we are working with many other researchers on joint investigations.
Other Investigations:
We are also pursuing research in neuron cell culture, myopathy, neuropathology, and peripheral neuropathy.


Prior to the Board of Clinical Neurology certification examination, a physician must have received certification by the Board of Internal Medicine. This certification examination requires three years of internal medicine training in educational hospitals approved by the Japanese Society of Internal Medicine. The physician will complete two years’ of initial training at the Hokkaido University Hospital and/or its associated training hospital. After that, neurology training in hospitals authorized by the Japanese Society of Neurology will continue. You will belong to the Neurology Department of the Hokkaido University Hospital for six months, and then begin medical specialist training in the postgraduate third year. During the fifth postgraduate year, you’ll assume the duties of the sub-chief resident of Neurology in Hokkaido University Hospital, and serve next as the chief resident of the department. A diagnostic system in muscle pathology has been established. The conferences on muscle pathology and neuroradiology are held regularly. These conferences provide the trainee with a chance to learn neuroradiology and muscle pathology. You then select your program for the sixth postgraduate year, and may choose to devote your time to a research project.
1 In September 2007, we celebrated the 20th anniversary of the Neurology Department of the Hokkaido University Hospital at the Hilton Otaru.
2 Muscle pathology of polymyositis (hemotoxylin-eosin staining). We have established a muscle pathology diagnostic system. The conference of muscle pathology is held every month. This conference provides physicians with a chance to learn muscle pathology.

International Activities

We present research results at international academic meetings every year. There are some senior staff who have studied in the United States, Canada, and Germany.

Selected Publications

1. Sasaki H, Wakisaka A, Takada A, Yoshiki T, Ihara T, Suzuki Y, Hamada T, Iwabuchi K, Onari K, Tada J, Suzuki K, Tashiro K. Mapping of the gene for Machado-Joseph disease within a 3.6-cM interval flanked by D14S291/D14S280 and D14S81, on the basis of studies of linkage and linkage disequilibrium in 24 Japanese families. Am J Hum Genet. 1995 Jan;56(1):231-42.
2. Yabe I, Sasaki H, Matsuura T, Takada A, Wakisaka A, Suzuki Y, Fukazawa T, Hamada T, Oda T, Ohnishi A, Tashiro K. SCA6 mutation analysis in a large cohort of the Japanese patients with late-onset pure cerebellar ataxia. J Neurol Sci. 1998;156(1):89-95.
3. Yamashita I, Sasaki H, Yabe I, Fukazawa T, Nogoshi S, Komeichi K, Takada A, Shiraishi K, Takiyama Y, Nishizawa M, Kaneko J, Tanaka H, Tsuji S, Tashiro K. A novel locus for dominant cerebellar ataxia (SCA14) maps to a 10.2-cM interval flanked by D19S206 and D19S605 on chromosome 19q13.4-qter. Ann Neurol. 2000 Aug;48(2):156-63.
4. Niino M, Kikuchi S, Fukazawa T, Yabe I, Tashiro K. Genetic polymorphisms of osteopontin in association with multiple sclerosis in Japanese patients. J Neuroimmunol. 2003 Mar;136(1-2):125-9.
5. Yabe I, Sasaki H, Chen DH, Raskind WH, Bird TD, Yamashita I, Tsuji S, Kikuchi S, Tashiro K. Spinocerebellar ataxia type 14 caused by a mutation in protein kinase C gamma. Arch Neurol. 2003 Dec;60(12):1749-51.
6. Niino M, Fukazawa T, Kikuchi S, Sasaki H. Recent advances in genetic analysis of multiple sclerosis: genetic associations and therapeutic implications. Expert Rev Neurother. 2007 Sep;7(9):1175-88.
7. Soma H, Yabe I, Takei A, Fujiki N, Yanagihara T, Sasaki H. Associations between multiple system atrophy and polymorphisms of SLC1A4, SQSTM1, and EIF4EBP1 genes. Mov Disord. 2008 Jun 15;23(8):1161-7.