Focal transplantation-based astrocyte replacement is neuroprotective in a model of motor neuron disease.
ABSTRACT: Cellular abnormalities in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) are not limited to motor neurons. Astrocyte dysfunction also occurs in human ALS and transgenic rodents expressing mutant human SOD1 protein (SOD1(G93A)). Here we investigated focal enrichment of normal astrocytes using transplantation of lineage-restricted astrocyte precursors, called glial-restricted precursors (GRPs). We transplanted GRPs around cervical spinal cord respiratory motor neuron pools, the principal cells whose dysfunction precipitates death in ALS. GRPs survived in diseased tissue, differentiated efficiently into astrocytes and reduced microgliosis in the cervical spinal cords of SOD1(G93A) rats. GRPs also extended survival and disease duration, attenuated motor neuron loss and slowed declines in forelimb motor and respiratory physiological functions. Neuroprotection was mediated in part by the primary astrocyte glutamate transporter GLT1. These findings indicate the feasibility and efficacy of transplantation-based astrocyte replacement and show that targeted multisegmental cell delivery to the cervical spinal cord is a promising therapeutic strategy for slowing focal motor neuron loss associated with ALS.
Project description:Although Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a motor neuron disease, basic research studies have highlighted that astrocytes contribute to the disease process. Therefore, strategies which replace the diseased astrocyte population with healthy astrocytes may protect against motor neuron degeneration. Our studies have sought to evaluate astrocyte replacement using glial-restricted progenitors (GRPs), which are lineage-restricted precursors capable of differentiating into astrocytes after transplantation. The goal of our current study was to evaluate how transplantation to the diseased ALS spinal cord versus a healthy, wild-type spinal cord may affect human GRP engraftment and selected gene expression. Human GRPs were transplanted into the spinal cord of either an ALS mouse model or wild-type littermate mice. Mice were sacrificed for analysis at either the onset of disease course or at the endstage of disease. The transplanted GRPs were analyzed by immunohistochemistry and NanoString gene profiling which showed no gross differences in the engraftment or gene expression of the cells. Our data indicate that human glial progenitor engraftment and gene expression is independent of the neurodegenerative ALS spinal cord environment. These findings are of interest given that human GRPs are currently in clinical development for spinal cord transplantation into ALS patients.
Project description:Recent studies highlight astrocytes as key drivers of motor neuron (MN) degeneration and disease propagation in mutant human superoxide dismutase 1 (mSOD1)-mediated amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. However, in vivo analysis of specific astrocytic influence in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis has proven difficult because mSOD1 is ubiquitously expressed throughout the CNS of rodent models studied. Here, we transplanted SOD1(G93A) glial-restricted precursor cells--glial progenitors capable of differentiating into astrocytes--into the cervical spinal cord of WT rats to reveal how mutant astrocytes influence WT MNs and other cells types (microglia and astrocytes) in an in vivo setting. Transplanted SOD1(G93A) glial-restricted precursor cells survived and differentiated efficiently into astrocytes. Graft-derived SOD1(G93A) astrocytes induced host MN ubiquitination and death, forelimb motor and respiratory dysfunction, reactive astrocytosis, and reduced GLT-1 transporter expression in WT animals. The SOD1(G93A) astrocyte-induced MN death seemed in part mediated by host microglial activation. These findings show that mSOD1 astrocytes alone can induce WT MN death and associated pathological changes in vivo.
Project description:Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is caused by the progressive degeneration of motor neurons. Mutations in the Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1) are found in approximately 20% of patients with familial ALS. Mutant SOD1 causes motor neuron death through an acquired toxic property. Although the molecular mechanism underlying this toxic gain-of-function remains unknown, evidence support the role of mutant SOD1 expression in nonneuronal cells in shaping motor neuron degeneration. We have previously found that in contrast to nontransgenic cells, SOD1(G93A)-expressing astrocytes induced apoptosis of cocultured motor neurons. This prompted us to investigate whether the effect on motor neuron survival was related to a change in the gene expression profile. Through high-density oligonucleotide microarrays, we found changes in the expression of genes involved in transcription, signaling, cell proliferation, extracellular matrix synthesis, response to stress, and steroid and lipid metabolism. The most up-regulated gene was decorin (Dcn), a small multifunctional extracellular proteoglycan. Down-regulated genes included the insulin-like growth factor-1 receptor (Igf-1r) and the RNA binding protein ROD1. Rod1 was also found down-regulated in purified motor neurons expressing SOD1(G93A). Changes in the expression of Dcn, Igf-1r, and Rod1 were found in the spinal cord of asymptomatic animals, suggesting these changes occur before overt neuronal degeneration and potentially influence astrocyte-motor neuron interaction in the course of the disease. The astrocyte-specific gene expression profile might contribute to the identification of possible candidates for cell type-specific therapies in ALS.
Project description:Heat shock protein beta-1 (HSPB1), is a ubiquitously expressed, multifunctional protein chaperone. Mutations in HSPB1 result in the development of a late-onset, distal hereditary motor neuropathy type II (dHMN) and axonal Charcot-Marie Tooth disease with sensory involvement (CMT2F). The functional consequences of HSPB1 mutations associated with hereditary neuropathy are unknown. HSPB1 also displays neuroprotective properties in many neuronal disease models, including the motor neuron disease amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). HSPB1 is upregulated in SOD1-ALS animal models during disease progression, predominately in glial cells. Glial cells are known to contribute to motor neuron loss in ALS through a non-cell autonomous mechanism. In this study, we examined the non-cell autonomous role of wild type and mutant HSPB1 in an astrocyte-motor neuron co-culture model system of ALS. Astrocyte-specific overexpression of wild type HSPB1 was sufficient to attenuate SOD1(G93A) astrocyte-mediated toxicity in motor neurons, whereas, overexpression of mutHSPB1 failed to ameliorate motor neuron toxicity. Expression of a phosphomimetic HSPB1 mutant in SOD1(G93A) astrocytes also reduced toxicity to motor neurons, suggesting that phosphorylation may contribute to HSPB1 mediated-neuroprotection. These data provide evidence that astrocytic HSPB1 expression may play a central role in motor neuron health and maintenance.
Project description:Astrocytes are key players in the progression of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). Previously, gene expression profiling of astrocytes from the pre-symptomatic stage of the SOD1(G93A) model of ALS has revealed reduced lactate metabolism and altered trophic support. Here, we have performed microarray analysis of symptomatic and late-stage disease astrocytes isolated by laser capture microdissection (LCM) from the lumbar spinal cord of the SOD1(G93A) mouse to complete the picture of astrocyte behavior throughout the disease course. Astrocytes at symptomatic and late-stage disease show a distinct up-regulation of transcripts defining a reactive phenotype, such as those involved in the lysosome and phagocytic pathways. Functional analysis of hexosaminidase B enzyme activity in the spinal cord and of astrocyte phagocytic ability has demonstrated a significant increase in lysosomal enzyme activity and phagocytic activity in SOD1(G93A) vs. littermate controls, validating the findings of the microarray study. In addition to the increased reactivity seen at both stages, astrocytes from late-stage disease showed decreased expression of many transcripts involved in cholesterol homeostasis. Staining for the master regulator of cholesterol synthesis, SREBP2, has revealed an increased localization to the cytoplasm of astrocytes and motor neurons in late-stage SOD1(G93A) spinal cord, indicating that down-regulation of transcripts may be due to an excess of cholesterol in the CNS during late-stage disease possibly due to phagocytosis of neuronal debris. Our data reveal that SOD1(G93A) astrocytes are characterized more by a loss of supportive function than a toxic phenotype during ALS disease progression and future studies should focus upon restorative therapies.
Project description:Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an incurable and fatal neurodegenerative disease characterized by the loss of motor neurons. Despite substantial research, the causes of ALS remain unclear. Glycoprotein nonmetastatic melanoma protein B (GPNMB) was identified as an ALS-related factor using DNA microarray analysis with mutant superoxide dismutase (SOD1(G93A)) mice. GPNMB was greatly induced in the spinal cords of ALS patients and a mouse model as the disease progressed. It was especially expressed in motor neurons and astrocytes. In an NSC34 cell line, glycosylation of GPNMB was inhibited by interaction with SOD1(G93A), increasing motor neuron vulnerability, whereas extracellular fragments of GPNMB secreted from activated astrocytes attenuated the neurotoxicity of SOD1(G93A) in neural cells. Furthermore, GPNMB expression was substantial in the sera of sporadic ALS patients than that of other diseased patients. This study suggests that GPNMB can be a target for therapeutic intervention for suppressing motor neuron degeneration in ALS.
Project description:Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by the death of motor neurons, axon degeneration, and denervation of neuromuscular junctions (NMJ). Here we show that death receptor 6 (DR6) levels are elevated in spinal cords from post-mortem samples of human ALS and from SOD1(G93A) transgenic mice, and DR6 promotes motor neuron death through activation of the caspase 3 signaling pathway. Blocking DR6 with antagonist antibody 5D10 promotes motor neuron survival in vitro via activation of Akt phosphorylation and inhibition of the caspase 3 signaling pathway, after growth factor withdrawal, sodium arsenite treatment or co-culture with SOD1(G93A) astrocytes. Treatment of SOD1(G93A) mice at an asymptomatic stage starting on the age of 42 days with 5D10 protects NMJ from denervation, decreases gliosis, increases survival of motor neurons and CC1(+) oligodendrocytes in spinal cord, decreases phosphorylated neurofilament heavy chain (pNfH) levels in serum, and promotes motor functional improvement assessed by increased grip strength. The combined data provide clear evidence for neuroprotective effects of 5D10. Blocking DR6 function represents a new approach for the treatment of neurodegenerative disorders involving motor neuron death and axon degeneration, such as ALS.
Project description:Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the selective death of motor neurons (MNs), probably by a combination of cell- and non-cell-autonomous processes. The past decades have brought many important insights into the role of astrocytes in nervous system function and disease, including the implication in ALS pathogenesis possibly through the impairment of Ca2+-dependent astrocyte-MN cross-talk. In this respect, it has been recently proposed that altered astrocytic store-operated Ca2+ entry (SOCE) may underlie aberrant gliotransmitter release and astrocyte-mediated neurotoxicity in ALS. These observations prompted us to a thorough investigation of SOCE in primary astrocytes from the spinal cord of the SOD1(G93A) ALS mouse model in comparison with the SOD1(WT)-expressing controls. To this purpose, we employed, for the first time in the field, genetically-encoded Ca2+ indicators, allowing the direct assessment of Ca2+ fluctuations in different cell domains. We found increased SOCE, associated with decreased expression of the sarco-endoplasmic reticulum Ca2+-ATPase and lower ER resting Ca2+ concentration in SOD1(G93A) astrocytes compared to control cells. Such findings add novel insights into the involvement of astrocytes in ALS MN damage.
Project description:AIMS:Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal motor neuron disease whose mechanism is not understood. Recently, it was reported that apoptosis-inducing factor (AIF) was involved in motor neuronal cell death in ALS model mice, and AIF-induced neuronal cell death by interacting with cyclophilin A (CypA). However, it is unknown whether the CypA and AIF-complex induces chromatinolysis in ALS. Therefore, in the present study, we investigated the process of motor neuron degeneration as the disease progresses and to determine whether the CypA-AIF complex would play a role in inducing motor neuronal cell death in mutant superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1)(G93A) ALS model mice. METHODOLOGY:We prepared the nuclear fractions of spinal cords and demonstrated the nuclear translocation of CypA with AIF in SOD1(G93A) mice by immunoprecipitation. The localization of CypA and AIF in the spinal cords was assessed by immunohistochemistry. RESULTS:In the spinal cords of SOD1(G93A) mice, the expressions of CypA and AIF were detected in the motor neurons, and CypA and AIF cotranslocated to the motor neuronal nuclei with CypA. Furthermore, the expression of CypA was detected in GFAP-positive astrocytes, but not in CD11b-positive microglial cells. On the other hand, these findings were not detected in the spinal cords of wild-type mice. CONCLUSIONS:From these results, we suggest that CypA and AIF may play cooperative and pivotal roles in motor neuronal death in the murine ALS model.
Project description:Mutations in superoxide dismutase-1 (SOD1) cause a form of the fatal paralytic disorder amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), presumably by a combination of cell-autonomous and non-cell-autonomous processes. Here, we show that expression of mutated human SOD1 in primary mouse spinal motor neurons does not provoke motor neuron degeneration. Conversely, rodent astrocytes expressing mutated SOD1 kill spinal primary and embryonic mouse stem cell-derived motor neurons. This is triggered by soluble toxic factor(s) through a Bax-dependent mechanism. However, mutant astrocytes do not cause the death of spinal GABAergic or dorsal root ganglion neurons or of embryonic stem cell-derived interneurons. In contrast to astrocytes, fibroblasts, microglia, cortical neurons and myocytes expressing mutated SOD1 do not cause overt neurotoxicity. These findings indicate that astrocytes may play a role in the specific degeneration of spinal motor neurons in ALS. Identification of the astrocyte-derived soluble factor(s) may have far-reaching implications for ALS from both a pathogenic and therapeutic standpoint.