Acidotoxicity and acid-sensing ion channels contribute to motoneuron degeneration.
ABSTRACT: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurological condition with no cure. Mitochondrial dysfunction, Ca(2+) overloading and local hypoxic/ischemic environments have been implicated in the pathophysiology of ALS and are conditions that may initiate metabolic acidosis in the affected tissue. We tested the hypothesis that acidotoxicity and acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs) are involved in the pathophysiology of ALS. We found that motoneurons were selectively vulnerable to acidotoxicity in vitro, and that acidotoxicity was partially reduced in asic1a-deficient motoneuron cultures. Cross-breeding of SOD1(G93A) ALS mice with asic1a-deficient mice delayed the onset and progression of motor dysfunction in SOD1 mice. Interestingly, we also noted a strong increase in ASIC2 expression in motoneurons of SOD1 mice and sporadic ALS patients during disease progression. Pharmacological pan-inhibition of ASIC channels with the lipophilic amiloride derivative, 5-(N,N-dimethyl)-amiloride hydrochloride, potently protected cultured motoneurons against acidotoxicity, and, given post-symptom onset, significantly improved lifespan, motor performance and motoneuron survival in SOD1 mice. Together, our data provide strong evidence for the involvement of acidotoxicity and ASIC channels in motoneuron degeneration, and highlight the potential of ASIC inhibitors as a new treatment approach for ALS.
Project description:Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive loss of motoneurons. Hyperexcitability and excitotoxicity have been implicated in the early pathogenesis of ALS. Studies addressing excitotoxic motoneuron death and intracellular Ca(2+) overload have mostly focused on Ca(2+) influx through AMPA glutamate receptors. However, intrinsic excitability of motoneurons through voltage-gated ion channels may also have a role in the neurodegeneration. In this study we examined the function and localization of voltage-gated Ca(2+) channels in cultured spinal cord motoneurons from mice expressing a mutant form of human superoxide dismutase-1 with a Gly93?Ala substitution (G93A-SOD1). Using whole-cell patch-clamp recordings, we showed that high voltage activated (HVA) Ca(2+) currents are increased in G93A-SOD1 motoneurons, but low voltage activated Ca(2+) currents are not affected. G93A-SOD1 motoneurons also have altered persistent Ca(2+) current mediated by L-type Ca(2+) channels. Quantitative single-cell RT-PCR revealed higher levels of Ca1a, Ca1b, Ca1c, and Ca1e subunit mRNA expression in G93A-SOD1 motoneurons, indicating that the increase of HVA Ca(2+) currents may result from upregulation of Ca(2+) channel mRNA expression in motoneurons. The localizations of the Ca1B N-type and Ca1D L-type Ca(2+) channels in motoneurons were examined by immunocytochemistry and confocal microscopy. G93A-SOD1 motoneurons had increased Ca1B channels on the plasma membrane of soma and dendrites. Ca1D channels are similar on the plasma membrane of soma and lower on the plasma membrane of dendrites of G93A-SOD1 motoneurons. Our study demonstrates that voltage-gated Ca(2+) channels have aberrant functions and localizations in ALS mouse motoneurons. The increased HVA Ca(2+) currents and PCCa current could contribute to early pathogenesis of ALS.
Project description:The reasons for the cellular specificity and slow progression of motoneuron diseases such as ALS are still poorly understood. We previously described a motoneuron-specific cell death pathway downstream of the Fas death receptor, in which synthesis of nitric oxide (NO) is an obligate step. Motoneurons from ALS model mice expressing mutant SOD1 showed increased susceptibility to exogenous NO as compared with controls. Here, we report a signaling mechanism whereby NO leads to death of mutant, but not control, motoneurons. Unexpectedly, exogenous NO triggers expression of Fas ligand (FasL) in cultured motoneurons. In mutant SOD1(G93A) and SOD1(G85R), but not in control motoneurons, this up-regulation results in activation of Fas, leading through Daxx to phosphorylation of p38 and further NO synthesis. This Fas/NO feedback amplification loop is required for motoneuron death in vitro. In vivo, mutant SOD1(G93A) and SOD1(G85R) mice show increased numbers of positive motoneurons and Daxx nuclear bodies weeks before disease onset. Moreover, FasL up-regulation is reduced in the presence of transgenic dominant-negative Daxx. We propose that chronic low-level activation of the Fas/NO feedback loop may underlie the motoneuron loss that characterizes familial ALS and may help to explain its slowly progressive nature.
Project description:Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an incurable neurodegenerative disease that primarily affects motoneurons in the brain and spinal cord. Dominant mutations in superoxide dismutase-1 (SOD1) cause a familial form of ALS. Mutant SOD1-damaged glial cells contribute to ALS pathogenesis by releasing neurotoxic factors, but the mechanistic basis of the motoneuron-specific elimination is poorly understood. Here, we describe a motoneuron-selective death pathway triggered by activation of lymphotoxin-β receptor (LT-βR) by LIGHT, and operating by a novel signaling scheme. We show that astrocytes expressing mutant SOD1 mediate the selective death of motoneurons through the proinflammatory cytokine interferon-γ (IFNγ), which activates the LIGHT-LT-βR death pathway. The expression of LIGHT and LT-βR by motoneurons in vivo correlates with the preferential expression of IFNγ by motoneurons and astrocytes at disease onset and symptomatic stage in ALS mice. Importantly, the genetic ablation of Light in an ALS mouse model retards progression, but not onset, of the disease and increases lifespan. We propose that IFNγ contributes to a cross-talk between motoneurons and astrocytes causing the selective loss of some motoneurons following activation of the LIGHT-induced death pathway.
Project description:The role of acid-sensing ion channels (ASICs) in the ventrolateral medulla (VLM) remains uncertain. Here, we found that ASIC1a and ASIC2 are widely expressed in rat medulla, and the expression level is higher at neonatal stage as compared to adult stage. The two ASIC subunits co-localized in medualla neurons. Furthermore, pH reduction triggered typical ASIC-type currents in the medulla, including the VLM. These currents showed a pH50 value of 6.6 and were blocked by amiloride. Based on their sensitivity to psalmotoxin 1 (PcTx1) and zinc, homomeric ASIC1a and heteromeric ASIC1a/2 channels were likely responsible for acid-mediated currents in the mouse medulla. ASIC currents triggered by pH 5 disappeared in the VLM neurons from ASIC1-/-, but not ASIC2-/- mice. Activation of ASICs in the medulla also triggered neuronal excitation. Moreover, microinjection of artificial cerebrospinal fluid at a pH of 6.5 into the VLM increased integrated phrenic nerve discharge, inspiratory time and respiratory drive in rats. Both amiloride and PcTx1 inhibited the acid-induced stimulating effect on respiration. Collectively, our data suggest that ASICs are highly expressed in the medulla including the VLM, and activation of ASICs in the VLM contributes to central chemoreception.
Project description:Adaptive immune response is part of the dynamic changes that accompany motoneuron loss in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). CD4<sup>+</sup> T cells that regulate a protective immunity during the neurodegenerative process have received the most attention. CD8<sup>+</sup> T cells are also observed in the spinal cord of patients and ALS mice although their contribution to the disease still remains elusive. Here, we found that activated CD8<sup>+</sup> T lymphocytes infiltrate the central nervous system (CNS) of a mouse model of ALS at the symptomatic stage. Selective ablation of CD8<sup>+</sup> T cells in mice expressing the ALS-associated superoxide dismutase-1 (SOD1)<sup>G93A</sup> mutant decreased spinal motoneuron loss. Using motoneuron-CD8<sup>+</sup> T cell coculture systems, we found that mutant SOD1-expressing CD8<sup>+</sup> T lymphocytes selectively kill motoneurons. This cytotoxicity activity requires the recognition of the peptide-MHC-I complex (where MHC-I represents major histocompatibility complex class I). Measurement of interaction strength by atomic force microscopy-based single-cell force spectroscopy demonstrated a specific MHC-I-dependent interaction between motoneuron and <i>SOD1</i> <sup><i>G93A</i></sup> CD8<sup>+</sup> T cells. Activated mutant SOD1 CD8<sup>+</sup> T cells produce interferon-?, which elicits the expression of the MHC-I complex in motoneurons and exerts their cytotoxic function through Fas and granzyme pathways. In addition, analysis of the clonal diversity of CD8<sup>+</sup> T cells in the periphery and CNS of ALS mice identified an antigen-restricted repertoire of their T cell receptor in the CNS. Our results suggest that self-directed immune response takes place during the course of the disease, contributing to the selective elimination of a subset of motoneurons in ALS.
Project description:The most common inherited form of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), a neurodegenerative disease affecting adult motoneurons, is caused by dominant mutations in the ubiquitously expressed Cu(2+)/Zn(2+) superoxide dismutase (SOD1). Recent studies suggest that glia may contribute to motoneuron injury in animal models of familial ALS. To determine whether the expression of mutant SOD1 (mSOD1(G93A)) in CNS microglia contributes to motoneuron injury, PU.1(-/-) mice that are unable to develop myeloid and lymphoid cells received bone marrow transplants resulting in donor-derived microglia. Donor-derived microglia from mice overexpressing mSOD1(G93A), an animal model of familial ALS, transplanted into PU.1(-/-) mice could not induce weakness, motoneuron injury, or an ALS-like disease. To determine whether expression of mSOD1(G93A) in motoneurons and astroglia, as well as microglia, was required to produce motoneuron disease, PU.1(-/-) mice were bred with mSOD1(G93A) mice. In mSOD1(G93A)/PU.1(-/-) mice, wild-type donor-derived microglia slowed motoneuron loss and prolonged disease duration and survival when compared with mice receiving mSOD1(G93A) expressing cells or mSOD1(G93A) mice. In vitro studies confirmed that wild-type microglia were less neurotoxic than similarly cultured mSOD1(G93A) microglia. Compared with wild-type microglia, mSOD1(G93A) microglia produced and released more superoxide and nitrite+nitrate, and induced more neuronal death. These data demonstrate that the expression of mSOD1(G93A) results in activated and neurotoxic microglia, and suggests that the lack of mSOD1(G93A) expression in microglia may contribute to motoneuron protection. This study confirms the importance of microglia as a double-edged sword, and focuses on the importance of targeting microglia to minimize cytotoxicity and maximize neuroprotection in neurodegenerative diseases.
Project description:Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal paralytic disorder caused by dysfunction and degeneration of motor neurons. Multiple disease-causing mutations, including in the genes for SOD1 and TDP-43, have been identified in ALS. Astrocytes expressing mutant SOD1 are strongly implicated in the pathogenesis of ALS: we have shown that media conditioned by astrocytes carrying mutant SOD1(G93A) contains toxic factor(s) that kill motoneurons by activating voltage-sensitive sodium (Na v ) channels. In contrast, a recent study suggests that astrocytes expressing mutated TDP43 contribute to ALS pathology, but do so via cell-autonomous processes and lack non-cell-autonomous toxicity. Here we investigate whether astrocytes that express diverse ALS-causing mutations release toxic factor(s) that induce motoneuron death, and if so, whether they do so via a common pathogenic pathway. We exposed primary cultures of wild-type spinal cord cells to conditioned medium derived from astrocytes (ACM) that express SOD1 (ACM-SOD1(G93A) and ACM-SOD1(G86R)) or TDP43 (ACM-TDP43(A315T)) mutants; we show that such exposure rapidly (within 30-60 min) increases dichlorofluorescein (DCF) fluorescence (indicative of nitroxidative stress) and leads to extensive motoneuron-specific death within a few days. Co-application of the diverse ACMs with anti-oxidants Trolox or esculetin (but not with resveratrol) strongly improves motoneuron survival. We also find that co-incubation of the cultures in the ACMs with Na v channel blockers (including mexiletine, spermidine, or riluzole) prevents both intracellular nitroxidative stress and motoneuron death. Together, our data document that two completely unrelated ALS models lead to the death of motoneuron via non-cell-autonomous processes, and show that astrocytes expressing mutations in SOD1 and TDP43 trigger such cell death through a common pathogenic pathway that involves nitroxidative stress, induced at least in part by Na v channel activity.
Project description:BACKGROUND:Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an incurable fatal motoneuron disease with a lifetime risk of approximately 1:400. It is characterized by progressive weakness, muscle wasting, and death ensuing 3-5 years after diagnosis. Granulocyte-colony stimulating factor (G-CSF) is a drug candidate for ALS, with evidence for efficacy from animal studies and interesting data from pilot clinical trials. To gain insight into the disease mechanisms and mode of action of G-CSF, we performed gene expression profiling on isolated lumbar motoneurons from SOD1(G93A) mice, the most frequently studied animal model for ALS, with and without G-CSF treatment. RESULTS:Motoneurons from SOD1(G93A) mice present a distinct gene expression profile in comparison to controls already at an early disease stage (11 weeks of age), when treatment was initiated. The degree of deregulation increases at a time where motor symptoms are obvious (15 weeks of age). Upon G-CSF treatment, transcriptomic deregulations of SOD1(G93A) motoneurons were notably restored. Discriminant analysis revealed that SOD1 mice treated with G-CSF has a transcriptom close to presymptomatic SOD1 mice or wild type mice. Some interesting genes modulated by G-CSF treatment relate to neuromuscular function such as CCR4-NOT or Prss12. CONCLUSIONS:Our data suggest that G-CSF is able to re-adjust gene expression in symptomatic SOD1(G93A) motoneurons. This provides further arguments for G-CSF as a promising drug candidate for ALS.
Project description:Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an adult onset neurodegenerative disease that causes progressive paralysis and death due to degeneration of motoneurons in spinal cord, brainstem and motor cortex. Nowadays, there is no effective therapy and patients die 2-5 years after diagnosis. Resveratrol (trans-3,4',5-trihydroxystilbene) is a natural polyphenol found in grapes, with promising neuroprotective effects since it induces expression and activation of several neuroprotective pathways involving Sirtuin1 and AMPK. The objective of this work was to assess the effect of resveratrol administration on SOD1(G93A) ALS mice. We determined the onset of symptoms by rotarod test and evaluated upper and lower motoneuron function using electrophysiological tests. We assessed the survival of the animals and determined the number of spinal motoneurons. Finally, we further investigated resveratrol mechanism of action by means of western blot and immunohistochemical analysis. Resveratrol treatment from 8 weeks of age significantly delayed disease onset and preserved lower and upper motoneuron function in female and male animals. Moreover, resveratrol significantly extended SOD1(G93A) mice lifespan and promoted survival of spinal motoneurons. Delayed resveratrol administration from 12 weeks of age also improved spinal motoneuron function preservation and survival. Further experiments revealed that resveratrol protective effects were associated with increased expression and activation of Sirtuin 1 and AMPK in the ventral spinal cord. Both mediators promoted normalization of the autophagic flux and, more importantly, increased mitochondrial biogenesis in the SOD1(G93A) spinal cord. Taken together, our findings suggest that resveratrol may represent a promising therapy for ALS.
Project description:BH3-only proteins couple diverse stress signals to the evolutionarily conserved mitochondrial apoptosis pathway. Previously, we reported that the activation of the BH3-only protein p53-up-regulated mediator of apoptosis (Puma) was necessary and sufficient for endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress- and proteasome inhibition-induced apoptosis in neuroblastoma and other cancer cells. Defects in protein quality control have also been suggested to be a key event in ALS, a fatal neurodegenerative condition characterized by motoneuron degeneration. Using the SOD1(G93A) mouse model as well as human post mortem samples from ALS patients, we show evidence for increased ER stress and defects in protein degradation in motoneurons during disease progression. Before symptom onset, we detected a significant up-regulation of Puma in motoneurons of SOD1(G93A) mice. Genetic deletion of puma significantly improved motoneuron survival and delayed disease onset and motor dysfunction in SOD1(G93A) mice. However, it had no significant effect on lifespan, suggesting that other ER stress-related cell-death proteins or other factors, such as excitotoxicity, necrosis, or inflammatory injury, may contribute at later disease stages. Indeed, further experiments using cultured motoneurons revealed that genetic deletion of puma protected motoneurons against ER stress-induced apoptosis but showed no effect against excitotoxic injury. These findings demonstrate that a single BH3-only protein, the ER stress-associated protein Puma, plays an important role during the early stages of chronic neurodegeneration in vivo.