Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is a neurodegenerative disorder characterized by progressive weakness, muscle atrophy, and paralysis due to the loss of upper and lower motoneurons (MNs). Sigma-1 receptor (sigma-1R) activation promotes neuroprotection after ischemic and traumatic injuries to the central nervous system. We recently reported that sigma-1R agonist (PRE-084) improves the survival of MNs after root avulsion injury in rats. Moreover, a mutation of the sigma-1R leading to frontotemporal lobar degeneration/amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) was recently described in human patients. In the present study, we analyzed the potential therapeutic effect of the sigma-1R agonist (PRE-084) in the SOD1G93A mouse model of ALS. Mice were daily administered with PRE-084 (0. 25 mg/kg) from 8 to 16 weeks of age. Functional outcome was assessed by electrophysiological tests and computerized analysis of locomotion. Histological, immunohistochemical analyses and Western blot of the spinal cord were performed. PRE-084 administration from 8 weeks of age improved the function of MNs, which was manifested by maintenance of the amplitude of muscle action potentials and locomotor behavior, and preserved neuromuscular connections and MNs in the spinal cord. Moreover, it extended survival in both female and male mice by more than 15 %. Delayed administration of PRE-084 from 12 weeks of age also significantly improved functional outcome and preservation of the MNs. There was an induction of protein kinase C-specific phosphorylation of the NR1 subunit of the N-methyl-D-aspartate (NMDA) receptor in SOD1G93A animals, and a reduction of the microglial reactivity compared with untreated mice. PRE-084 exerts a dual therapeutic contribution, modulating NMDA Ca2+ influx to protect MNs, and the microglial reactivity to ameliorate the MN environment. In conclusion, sigma-1R agonists, such as PRE-084, may be promising candidates for a therapeutical strategy of ALS. © 2012 The American Society for Experimental NeuroTherapeutics, Inc.
- Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
- Motoneuron disease
- SOD1 mice G93A
- Sigma-1 receptor