ALS Abstracts 2

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Gene dysregulation is restored in the Parkinson's disease MPTP neurotoxic mice model upon treatment of the therapeutic drug Cu(II)(atsm).
            (Cheng et al., 2016) Download
The administration of MPTP selectively targets the dopaminergic system resulting in Parkinsonism-like symptoms and is commonly used as a mice model of Parkinson's disease. We previously demonstrated that the neuroprotective compound Cu(II)(atsm) rescues nigral cell loss and improves dopamine metabolism in the MPTP model. The mechanism of action of Cu(II)(atsm) needs to be further defined to understand how the compound promotes neuronal survival. Whole genome transcriptomic profiling has become a popular method to examine the relationship between gene expression and function. Substantia nigra samples from MPTP-lesioned mice were evaluated using whole transcriptome sequencing to investigate the genes altered upon Cu(II)(atsm) treatment. We identified 143 genes affected by MPTP lesioning that are associated with biological processes related to brain and cognitive development, dopamine synthesis and perturbed synaptic neurotransmission. Upon Cu(II)(atsm) treatment, the expression of 40 genes involved in promoting dopamine synthesis, calcium signaling and synaptic plasticity were restored which were validated by qRT-PCR. The study provides the first detailed whole transcriptomic analysis of pathways involved in MPTP-induced Parkinsonism. In addition, we identify key therapeutic pathways targeted by a potentially new class of neuroprotective agents which may provide therapeutic benefits for other neurodegenerative disorders.s

The hypoxia imaging agent CuII(atsm) is neuroprotective and improves motor and cognitive functions in multiple animal models of Parkinson's disease.
            (Hung et al., 2012) Download
Parkinson's disease (PD) is a progressive, chronic disease characterized by dyskinesia, rigidity, instability, and tremors. The disease is defined by the presence of Lewy bodies, which primarily consist of aggregated α-synuclein protein, and is accompanied by the loss of monoaminergic neurons. Current therapeutic strategies only give symptomatic relief of motor impairment and do not address the underlying neurodegeneration. Hence, we have identified Cu(II)(atsm) as a potential therapeutic for PD. Drug administration to four different animal models of PD resulted in improved motor and cognition function, rescued nigral cell loss, and improved dopamine metabolism. In vitro, this compound is able to inhibit the effects of peroxynitrite-driven toxicity, including the formation of nitrated α-synuclein oligomers. Our results show that Cu(II)(atsm) is effective in reversing parkinsonian defects in animal models and has the potential to be a successful treatment of PD.

Therapeutic effects of CuII(atsm) in the SOD1-G37R mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
            (McAllum et al., 2013) Download
Our objective was to assess the copper(II) complex of diacetylbis(4-methylthiosemicarbazone) [Cu(II)(atsm)] for its preclinical potential as a novel therapeutic for ALS. Experimental paradigms used were designed to assess Cu(II)(atsm) efficacy relative to treatment with riluzole, as a function of dose administered, and when administered post symptom onset. Mice expressing human Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase harbouring the disease-causing G37R mutation (SOD1-G37R) were used and effects of Cu(II)(atsm) determined by assessing mouse survival and locomotor function (rotarod assay). Cu(II)(atsm) improved SOD1-G37R mouse survival and locomotor function in a dose-dependent manner. The highest dose tested improved survival by 26%. Riluzole had a modest effect on mouse survival (3.3%) but it did not improve locomotor function. Cotreatment with Cu(II)(atsm) did not alter the protective activity of Cu(II)(atsm) administered on its own. Commencing treatment with Cu(II)(atsm) after the onset of symptoms was less effective than treatments that commenced before symptom onset but still significantly improved locomotor function and survival. Improved locomotor function and survival of SOD1-G37R mice supports the potential for Cu(II)(atsm) as a novel treatment option for ALS.

Oral treatment with Cu(II)(atsm) increases mutant SOD1 in vivo but protects motor neurons and improves the phenotype of a transgenic mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.
            (Roberts et al., 2014) Download
Mutations in the metallo-protein Cu/Zn-superoxide dismutase (SOD1) cause amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) in humans and an expression level-dependent phenotype in transgenic rodents. We show that oral treatment with the therapeutic agent diacetyl-bis(4-methylthiosemicarbazonato)copper(II) [Cu(II)(atsm)] increased the concentration of mutant SOD1 (SOD1G37R) in ALS model mice, but paradoxically improved locomotor function and survival of the mice. To determine why the mice with increased levels of mutant SOD1 had an improved phenotype, we analyzed tissues by mass spectrometry. These analyses revealed most SOD1 in the spinal cord tissue of the SOD1G37R mice was Cu deficient. Treating with Cu(II)(atsm) decreased the pool of Cu-deficient SOD1 and increased the pool of fully metallated (holo) SOD1. Tracking isotopically enriched (65)Cu(II)(atsm) confirmed the increase in holo-SOD1 involved transfer of Cu from Cu(II)(atsm) to SOD1, suggesting the improved locomotor function and survival of the Cu(II)(atsm)-treated SOD1G37R mice involved, at least in part, the ability of the compound to improve the Cu content of the mutant SOD1. This was supported by improved survival of SOD1G37R mice that expressed the human gene for the Cu uptake protein CTR1. Improving the metal content of mutant SOD1 in vivo with Cu(II)(atsm) did not decrease levels of misfolded SOD1. These outcomes indicate the metal content of SOD1 may be a greater determinant of the toxicity of the protein in mutant SOD1-associated forms of ALS than the mutations themselves. Improving the metal content of SOD1 therefore represents a valid therapeutic strategy for treating ALS caused by SOD1.

Diacetylbis(N(4)-methylthiosemicarbazonato) copper(II) (CuII(atsm)) protects against peroxynitrite-induced nitrosative damage and prolongs survival in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis mouse model.
            (Soon et al., 2011) Download
Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive paralyzing disease characterized by tissue oxidative damage and motor neuron degeneration. This study investigated the in vivo effect of diacetylbis(N(4)-methylthiosemicarbazonato) copper(II) (CuII(atsm)), which is an orally bioavailable, blood-brain barrier-permeable complex. In vitro the compound inhibits the action of peroxynitrite on Cu,Zn-superoxide dismutase (SOD1) and subsequent nitration of cellular proteins. Oral treatment of transgenic SOD1G93A mice with CuII(atsm) at presymptomatic and symptomatic ages was performed. The mice were examined for improvement in lifespan and motor function, as well as histological and biochemical changes to key disease markers. Systemic treatment of SOD1G93A mice significantly delayed onset of paralysis and prolonged lifespan, even when administered to symptomatic animals. Consistent with the properties of this compound, treated mice had reduced protein nitration and carbonylation, as well as increased antioxidant activity in spinal cord. Treatment also significantly preserved motor neurons and attenuated astrocyte and microglial activation in mice. Furthermore, CuII(atsm) prevented the accumulation of abnormally phosphorylated and fragmented TAR DNA-binding protein-43 (TDP-43) in spinal cord, a protein pivotal to the development of ALS. CuII(atsm) therefore represents a potential new class of neuroprotective agents targeting multiple major disease pathways of motor neurons with therapeutic potential for ALS.

Copper delivery to the CNS by CuATSM effectively treats motor neuron disease in SOD(G93A) mice co-expressing the Copper-Chaperone-for-SOD.
s          (Williams et al., 2016) Download
Over-expression of mutant copper, zinc superoxide dismutase (SOD) in mice induces ALS and has become the most widely used model of neurodegeneration. However, no pharmaceutical agent in 20 years has extended lifespan by more than a few weeks. The Copper-Chaperone-for-SOD (CCS) protein completes the maturation of SOD by inserting copper, but paradoxically human CCS causes mice co-expressing mutant SOD to die within two weeks of birth. Hypothesizing that co-expression of CCS created copper deficiency in spinal cord, we treated these pups with the PET-imaging agent CuATSM, which is known to deliver copper into the CNS within minutes. CuATSM prevented the early mortality of CCSxSOD mice, while markedly increasing Cu, Zn SOD protein in their ventral spinal cord. Remarkably, continued treatment with CuATSM extended the survival of these mice by an average of 18 months. When CuATSM treatment was stopped, these mice developed ALS-related symptoms and died within 3 months. Restoring CuATSM treatment could rescue these mice after they became symptomatic, providing a means to start and stop disease progression. All ALS patients also express human CCS, raising the hope that familial SOD ALS patients could respond to CuATSM treatment similarly to the CCSxSOD mice.

 


References

Cheng, L, et al. (2016), ‘Gene dysregulation is restored in the Parkinson’s disease MPTP neurotoxic mice model upon treatment of the therapeutic drug Cu(II)(atsm).’, Sci Rep, 6 22398. PubMed: 26928495
Hung, LW, et al. (2012), ‘The hypoxia imaging agent CuII(atsm) is neuroprotective and improves motor and cognitive functions in multiple animal models of Parkinson’s disease.’, J Exp Med, 209 (4), 837-54. PubMed: 22473957
McAllum, EJ, et al. (2013), ‘Therapeutic effects of CuII(atsm) in the SOD1-G37R mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.’, Amyotroph Lateral Scler Frontotemporal Degener, 14 (7-8), 586-90. PubMed: 23952668
Roberts, BR, et al. (2014), ‘Oral treatment with Cu(II)(atsm) increases mutant SOD1 in vivo but protects motor neurons and improves the phenotype of a transgenic mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.’, J Neurosci, 34 (23), 8021-31. PubMed: 24899723
Soon, CP, et al. (2011), ‘Diacetylbis(N(4)-methylthiosemicarbazonato) copper(II) (CuII(atsm)) protects against peroxynitrite-induced nitrosative damage and prolongs survival in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis mouse model.’, J Biol Chem, 286 (51), 44035-44. PubMed: 22033929
Williams, JR, et al. (2016), ‘Copper delivery to the CNS by CuATSM effectively treats motor neuron disease in SOD(G93A) mice co-expressing the Copper-Chaperone-for-SOD.’, Neurobiol Dis, 89 1-9. PubMed: 26826269