Elucidating the Contribution of Skeletal Muscle Ion Channels to Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis in search of new therapeutic options.
ABSTRACT: The discovery of pathogenetic mechanisms is essential to identify new therapeutic approaches in Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS). Here we investigated the role of the most important ion channels in skeletal muscle of an ALS animal model (MLC/SOD1G93A) carrying a mutated SOD1 exclusively in this tissue, avoiding motor-neuron involvement. Ion channels are fundamental proteins for muscle function, and also to sustain neuromuscular junction and nerve integrity. By a multivariate statistical analysis, using machine learning algorithms, we identified the discriminant genes in MLC/SOD1G93A mice. Surprisingly, the expression of ClC-1 chloride channel, present only in skeletal muscle, was reduced. Also, the expression of Protein Kinase-C, known to control ClC-1 activity, was increased, causing its inhibition. The functional characterization confirmed the reduction of ClC-1 activity, leading to hyperexcitability and impaired relaxation. The increased expression of ion channel coupled AMPA-receptor may contribute to sustained depolarization and functional impairment. Also, the decreased expression of irisin, a muscle-secreted peptide protecting brain function, may disturb muscle-nerve connection. Interestingly, the in-vitro application of chelerythrine or acetazolamide, restored ClC-1 activity and sarcolemma hyperexcitability in these mice. These findings show that ion channel function impairment in skeletal muscle may lead to motor-neuron increased vulnerability, and opens the possibility to investigate on new compounds as promising therapy.
Project description:Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a severe neurodegenerative disorder, classified into sporadic or familial forms and characterized by motor neurons death, muscle atrophy, weakness, and paralysis. Among the familial cases of ALS, approximately 20% are caused by dominant mutations in the gene coding for superoxide dismutase (SOD1) protein. Of note, mutant SOD1 toxicity is not necessarily limited to the central nervous system. ALS is indeed a multi-systemic and multifactorial disease that affects whole body physiology and induces severe metabolic changes in several tissues, including skeletal muscle. Nevertheless, whether alterations in the plasticity, heterogeneity, and metabolism of muscle fibers are the result of motor neuron degeneration or alternatively occur independently of it remain to be elucidated. To address this issue, we made use of a mouse model (MLC/SOD1G93A) that overexpresses the SOD1 mutant gene selectively in skeletal muscle. We found an alteration in the metabolic properties of skeletal muscle characterized by alteration in fiber type composition and metabolism. Indeed, we observed an alteration of muscle glucose metabolism associated with the induction of Phosphofructokinases and Pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 4 expression. The upregulation of Pyruvate dehydrogenase kinase 4 led to the inhibition of Pyruvate conversion into Acetyl-CoA. Moreover, we demonstrated that the MLC/SOD1G93A transgene was associated with an increase of lipid catabolism and with the inhibition of fat deposition inside muscle fibers. All together these data demonstrate that muscle expression of the SOD1G93A gene induces metabolic changes, along with a preferential use of lipid energy fuel by muscle fibers. We provided evidences that muscle metabolic alterations occurred before disease symptoms and independently of motor neuron degeneration, indicating that skeletal muscle is likely an important therapeutic target in ALS.
Project description:In amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), mitochondrial dysfunction and oxidative stress form a vicious cycle that promotes neurodegeneration and muscle wasting. To quantify the disease-stage-dependent changes of mitochondrial function and their relationship to the generation of reactive oxygen species (ROS), we generated double transgenic mice (G93A/cpYFP) that carry human ALS mutation SOD1G93A and mt-cpYFP transgenes, in which mt-cpYFP detects dynamic changes of ROS-related mitoflash events at individual mitochondria level. Compared with wild type mice, mitoflash activity in the SOD1G93A (G93A) mouse muscle showed an increased flashing frequency prior to the onset of ALS symptom (at the age of 2 months), whereas the onset of ALS symptoms (at the age of 4 months) is associated with drastic changes in the kinetics property of mitoflash signal with prolonged full duration at half maximum (FDHM). Elevated levels of cytosolic ROS in skeletal muscle derived from the SOD1G93A mice were confirmed with fluorescent probes, MitoSOX™ Red and ROS Brite™570. Immunoblotting analysis of subcellular mitochondrial fractionation of G93A muscle revealed an increased expression level of cyclophilin D (CypD), a regulatory component of the mitochondrial permeability transition pore (mPTP), at the age of 4 months but not at the age of 2 months. Transient overexpressing of SOD1G93A in skeletal muscle of wild type mice directly promoted mitochondrial ROS production with an enhanced mitoflash activity in the absence of motor neuron axonal withdrawal. Remarkably, the SOD1G93A-induced mitoflash activity was attenuated by the application of cyclosporine A (CsA), an inhibitor of CypD. Similar to the observation with the SOD1G93A transgenic mice, an increased expression level of CypD was also detected in skeletal muscle following transient overexpression of SOD1G93A. Overall, this study reveals a disease-stage-dependent change in mitochondrial function that is associated with CypD-dependent mPTP opening; and the ALS mutation SOD1G93A directly contributes to mitochondrial dysfunction in the absence of motor neuron axonal withdrawal.
Project description:Axonal excitability testing provides in vivo assessment of axonal ion channel function and membrane potential. Excitability techniques have provided insights into the pathophysiological mechanisms underlying the development of neurodegeneration and clinical features of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) and related neuromuscular disorders. Specifically, abnormalities of Na+ and K+ conductances contribute to development of membrane hyperexcitability in ALS, thereby leading to symptom generation of muscle cramps and fasciculations, in addition to promoting a neurodegenerative cascade via Ca2+-mediated processes. Modulation of axonal ion channel function in ALS has resulted in significant symptomatic improvement that has been accompanied by stabilization of axonal excitability parameters. Separately, axonal ion channel dysfunction evolves with disease progression and correlates with survival, thereby serving as a potential therapeutic biomarker in ALS. The present review provides an overview of axonal excitability techniques and the physiological mechanisms underlying membrane excitability, with a focus on the role of axonal ion channel dysfunction in motor neuron disease and related neuromuscular diseases.
Project description:BACKGROUND AND PURPOSE:Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease typically more common in males, implicating androgens in progression of both patients and mouse models. Androgen effects are mediated by androgen receptor which is highly expressed in spinal motor neurons and skeletal muscles. To clarify the role of androgen receptors in ALS, we therefore examined the effect of androgen receptor antagonism in the SOD1G93A mouse model. EXPERIMENTAL APPROACH:The androgen receptor antagonist, flutamide, was administered to presymptomatic SOD1G93A mice as a slow-release subcutaneous implant (5 mg·day-1 ). Testosterone, flutamide, and metabolite levels were measured in blood and spinal cord tissue by LC-MS-MS. Effects on disease onset and progression were assessed using motor function tests, survival, muscle, and neuropathological analyses. KEY RESULTS:Flutamide was metabolised to 2-hydroxyflutamide achieving steady-state plasma levels across the study duration and reached the spinal cord at pharmacologically active concentrations. Flutamide treatment accelerated disease onset and locomotor dysfunction in male SOD1G93A mice, but not female mice, without affecting survival. Analysis of hindlimb muscles revealed exacerbation of myofibre atrophy in male SOD1G93A mice treated with flutamide, although motor neuron pathology was not affected. CONCLUSION AND IMPLICATIONS:The androgen receptor antagonist accelerated disease onset in male SOD1G93A mice, leading to exacerbated muscle pathology, consistent with a role of androgens in modulating disease severity, sexual dimorphism, and peripheral pathology in ALS. These results also demonstrate a key contribution of skeletal muscle pathology to disease onset, but not outcome, in this mouse model of ALS.
Project description:While the death of motor neuron is a pathological hallmark of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), defects in other cell types or organs may also actively contribute to ALS disease progression. ALS patients experience progressive skeletal muscle wasting that may not only exacerbate neuronal degeneration, but likely has a significant impact on bone function. In our previous published study, we have discovered severe bone loss in an ALS mouse model with overexpression of ALS-associated mutation SOD1G93A (G93A). Here we further provide a mechanistic understanding of the bone loss in ALS animal and cellular models. Combining mitochondrial fluorescent indicators and confocal live cell imaging, we discovered abnormalities in mitochondrial network and dynamics in primary osteocytes derived from the same ALS mouse model G93A. Those mitochondrial defects occur in ALS mice after the onset of neuromuscular symptoms, indicating that mitochondria in bone cells respond to muscle atrophy during ALS disease progression. To examine whether ALS mutation has a direct contribution to mitochondrial dysfunction independent of muscle atrophy, we evaluated mitochondrial morphology and motility in cultured osteocytes (MLO-Y4) with overexpression of mitochondrial targeted SOD1G93A. Compared with osteocytes overexpressing the wild type SOD1 as a control, the SOD1G93A osteocytes showed similar defects in mitochondrial network and dynamic as that of the primary osteocytes derived from the ALS mouse model. In addition, we further discovered that overexpression of SOD1G93A enhanced the expression level of dynamin-related protein 1 (Drp1), a key protein promoting mitochondrial fission activity, and reduced the expression level of optic atrophy protein 1 (OPA1), a key protein related to mitochondrial fusion. A specific mitochondrial fission inhibitor (Mdivi-1) partially reversed the effect of SOD1G93A on mitochondrial network and dynamics, indicating that SOD1G93A likely promotes mitochondrial fission, but suppresses the fusion activity. Our data provide the first evidence that mitochondria show abnormality in osteocytes derived from an ALS mouse model. The accumulation of mutant SOD1G93A protein inside mitochondria directly causes dysfunction in mitochondrial dynamics in cultured MLO-Y4 osteocytes. In addition, the ALS mutation SOD1G93A-mediated dysfunction in mitochondrial dynamics is associated with an enhanced apoptosis in osteocytes, which could be a potential mechanism underlying the bone loss during ALS progression.
Project description:Huntington's disease (HD) patients suffer from progressive and debilitating motor dysfunction. Previously, we discovered reduced skeletal muscle chloride channel (ClC-1) currents, inwardly rectifying potassium (Kir) channel currents, and membrane capacitance in R6/2 transgenic HD mice. The ClC-1 loss-of-function correlated with increased aberrant mRNA processing and decreased levels of full-length ClC-1 mRNA (Clcn1 gene). Physiologically, the resulting muscle hyperexcitability may help explain involuntary contractions of HD. In this study, the onset and progression of these defects are investigated in R6/2 mice, ranging from 3 wk old (presymptomatic) to 9-13 wk old (late-stage disease), and compared with age-matched wild-type (WT) siblings. The R6/2 ClC-1 current density and level of aberrantly spliced Clcn1 mRNA remain constant with age. In contrast, the ClC-1 current density increases, and the level of aberrantly spliced Clcn1 mRNA decreases with age in WT mice. The R6/2 ClC-1 properties diverge from WT before the onset of motor symptoms, which occurs at 5 wk of age. The relative decrease in R6/2 muscle capacitance also begins in 5-wk-old mice and is independent of fiber atrophy. Kir current density is consistently lower in R6/2 compared with WT muscle. The invariable R6/2 ClC-1 properties suggest a disruption in muscle maturation, which we confirm by measuring elevated levels of neonatal myosin heavy chain (MyHC) in late-stage R6/2 skeletal muscle. Similar changes in ClC-1 and MyHC isoforms in the more slowly developing Q175 HD mice suggest an altered maturational state is relevant to adult-onset HD. Finally, we find nuclear aggregates of muscleblind-like protein 1 without predominant CAG repeat colocalization in R6/2 muscle. This is unlike myotonic dystrophy, another trinucleotide repeat disorder with similar ClC-1 defects, and suggests a novel mechanism of aberrant mRNA splicing in HD. These early and progressive skeletal muscle defects reveal much needed peripheral biomarkers of disease progression and better elucidate the mechanism underlying HD myopathy.
Project description:Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a type of motor neuron disease (MND) in which humans lose motor functions due to progressive loss of motoneurons in the cortex, brainstem, and spinal cord. In patients and in animal models of MND it has been observed that there is a change in the properties of motoneurons, termed neuronal hyperexcitability, which is an exaggerated response of the neurons to a stimulus. Previous studies suggested neuronal excitability is one of the leading causes for neuronal loss, however the factors that instigate excitability in neurons over the course of disease onset and progression are not well understood, as these studies have looked mainly at embryonic or early postnatal stages (pre-symptomatic). As hyperexcitability is not a static phenomenon, the aim of this study was to assess the overall excitability of upper motoneurons during disease progression, specifically focusing on their oscillatory behavior and capabilities to fire repetitively. Our results suggest that increases in the intrinsic excitability of motoneurons are a global phenomenon of aging, however the cellular mechanisms that underlie this hyperexcitability are distinct in SOD1G93A ALS mice compared with wild-type controls. The ionic mechanism driving increased excitability involves alterations of the expression levels of HCN and KCNQ channel genes leading to a complex dynamic of H-current and M-current activation. Moreover, we show a negative correlation between the disease onset and disease progression, which correlates with a decrease in the expression level of HCN and KCNQ channels. These findings provide a potential explanation for the increased vulnerability of motoneurons to ALS with aging.
Project description:Wide-spread fasciculations are a characteristic feature in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), suggesting motor axonal hyperexcitability. Previous excitability studies have shown increased nodal persistent sodium conductances and decreased potassium currents in motor axons of ALS patients, both of the changes inducing hyperexcitability. Altered axonal excitability potentially contributes to motor neuron death in ALS, but the relationship of the extent of motor neuronal death and abnormal excitability has not been fully elucidated. We performed multiple nerve excitability measurements in the median nerve at the wrist of 140 ALS patients and analyzed the relationship of compound muscle action potential (CMAP) amplitude (index of motor neuronal loss) and excitability indices, such as strength-duration time constant, threshold electrotonus, recovery cycle and current-threshold relationships. Compared to age-matched normal controls (n = 44), ALS patients (n = 140) had longer strength-duration time constant (SDTC: a measure of nodal persistent sodium current; p < 0.05), greater threshold changes in depolarizing threshold electrotonus (p < 0.05) and depolarizing current threshold relationship (i.e. less accommodation; (p < 0.05), greater superexcitability (a measure of fast potassium current; p < 0.05) and reduced late subexcitability (a measure of slow potassium current; p < 0.05), suggesting increased persistent sodium currents and decreased potassium currents. The reduced potassium currents were found even in the patient subgroups with normal CMAP (> 5mV). Regression analyses showed that SDTC (R = -0.22) and depolarizing threshold electrotonus (R = -0.22) increased with CMAP decline. These findings suggest that motor nerve hyperexcitability occurs in the early stage of the disease, and precedes motor neuronal loss in ALS. Modulation of altered ion channel function could be a treatment option for ALS.
Project description:Axon degeneration occurs in all neurodegenerative diseases, but the molecular pathways regulating axon destruction during neurodegeneration are poorly understood. Sterile Alpha and TIR Motif Containing 1 (Sarm1) is an essential component of the prodegenerative pathway driving axon degeneration after axotomy and represents an appealing target for therapeutic intervention in neurological conditions involving axon loss. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is characterized by rapid, progressive motor neuron degeneration and muscle atrophy, causing paralysis and death. Patient tissue and animal models of ALS show destruction of upper and lower motor neuron cell bodies and loss of their associated axons. Here, we investigate whether loss of Sarm1 can mitigate motor neuron degeneration in the SOD1G93A mouse model of ALS. We found no change in survival, behavioral, electrophysiogical or histopathological outcomes in SOD1G93A mice null for Sarm1. Blocking Sarm1-mediated axon destruction alone is therefore not sufficient to suppress SOD1G93A-induced neurodegeneration. Our data suggest the molecular pathways driving axon loss in ALS may be Sarm1-independent or involve genetic pathways that act in a redundant fashion with Sarm1.
Project description:Huntington disease is a progressive and fatal genetic disorder with debilitating motor and cognitive defects. Chorea, rigidity, dystonia, and muscle weakness are characteristic motor defects of the disease that are commonly attributed to central neurodegeneration. However, no previous study has examined the membrane properties that control contraction in Huntington disease muscle. We show primary defects in ex vivo adult skeletal muscle from the R6/2 transgenic mouse model of Huntington disease. Action potentials in diseased fibers are more easily triggered and prolonged than in fibers from WT littermates. Furthermore, some action potentials in the diseased fibers self-trigger. These defects occur because of decreases in the resting chloride and potassium conductances. Consistent with this, the expression of the muscle chloride channel, ClC-1, in Huntington disease muscle was compromised by improper splicing and a corresponding reduction in total Clcn1 (gene for ClC-1) mRNA. Additionally, the total Kcnj2 (gene for the Kir2.1 potassium channel) mRNA was reduced in disease muscle. The resulting muscle hyperexcitability causes involuntary and prolonged contractions that may contribute to the chorea, rigidity, and dystonia that characterize Huntington disease.