Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating neurodegenerative disease characterized by a progressive loss of lower motor neurons in the spinal cord. The incretin hormone, glucagon-like peptide-1 (GLP-1), facilitates insulin signaling, and the long acting GLP-1 receptor agonist exendin-4 (Ex-4) is currently used as an anti-diabetic drug. GLP-1 receptors are widely expressed in the brain and spinal cord, and our prior studies have shown that Ex-4 is neuroprotective in several neurodegenerative disease rodent models, including stroke, Parkinson's disease and Alzheimer's disease. Here we hypothesized that Ex-4 may provide neuroprotective activity in ALS, and hence characterized Ex-4 actions in both cell culture (NSC-19 neuroblastoma cells) and in vivo (SOD1 G93A mutant mice) models of ALS. Ex-4 proved to be neurotrophic in NSC-19 cells, elevating choline acetyltransferase (ChAT) activity, as well as neuroprotective, protecting cells from hydrogen peroxide-induced oxidative stress and staurosporine-induced apoptosis. Additionally, in both wild-type SOD1 and mutant SOD1 (G37R) stably transfected NSC-19 cell lines, Ex-4 protected against trophic factor withdrawal-induced toxicity. To assess in vivo translation, SOD1 mutant mice were administered vehicle or Ex-4 at 6-weeks of age onwards to end-stage disease via subcutaneous osmotic pump to provide steady-state infusion. ALS mice treated with Ex-4 showed improved glucose tolerance and normalization of behavior, as assessed by running wheel, compared to control ALS mice. Furthermore, Ex-4 treatment attenuated neuronal cell death in the lumbar spinal cord; immunohistochemical analysis demonstrated the rescue of neuronal markers, such as ChAT, associated with motor neurons. Together, our results suggest that GLP-1 receptor agonists warrant further evaluation to assess whether their neuroprotective potential is of therapeutic relevance in ALS.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)
- Agricultural and Biological Sciences(all)