Neuregulin 1 reduces motoneuron cell death and promotes neurite growth in an in vitro model of motoneuron degeneration

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© 2018 Mòdol-Caballero, Santos, Navarro and Herrando-Grabulosa. Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) is a devastating neurodegenerative disorder with no effective treatment currently available. Although the mechanisms of motoneuron (MN) death are still unclear, glutamate excitotoxicity and neuroinflammatory reaction are two main features in the neurodegenerative process of ALS. Neuregulin 1 (NRG1) is a trophic factor highly expressed in MNs and neuromuscular junctions. Several recent evidences suggest that NRG1 and their ErbB receptors are involved in ALS. However, further knowledge is still needed to clarify the role of the NRG1-ErbB pathway on MN survival. In this study we used an in vitro model of spinal cord organotypic cultures (SCOCs) subject to chronic excitotoxicity caused by DL-threo-β-hydroxyaspartic acid (THA) to characterize the effect of NRG1 on MN survival. Our results show that addition of recombinant human NRG1 (rhNRG1) to the medium significantly increased MN survival through the activation of ErbB receptors which was ablated with lapatinib (LP), an ErbB inhibitor, and reduced microglial reactivity overcoming the excitotoxicity effects. rhNRG1 activated the pro-survival PI3K/AKT pathway and restored the autophagic flux in the spinal cord culture. Moreover, addition of rhNRG1 to the medium promoted motor and sensory neurite outgrowth. These findings indicate that increasing NRG1 at the spinal cord is an interesting approach for promoting MN protection and regeneration.
Original languageEnglish
Article number431
JournalFrontiers in Cellular Neuroscience
Publication statusPublished - 9 Jan 2018


  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • ErbB receptors
  • Excitotoxicity
  • Motoneuron
  • Neuregulin 1
  • Neurite growth
  • Organotypic culture
  • Spinal cord


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