Targeting autotaxin impacts disease advance in the SOD1-G93A mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

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A preclinical strategy to broaden the search of potentially effective treatments in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) relies on identifying factors controlling motor neuron (MN) excitability. These partners might be part of still unknown pathogenic pathways and/or useful for the design of new interventions to affect disease progression. In this framework, the bioactive membrane-derived phospholipid lysophosphatidic acid (LPA) affects MN excitability through LPA receptor 1 (LPA1 ). Furthermore, LPA1  knockdown is neuroprotective in transgenic ALS SOD1-G93A mice. On this basis, we raised the hypothesis that the major LPA-synthesizing ectoenzyme, autotaxin (ATX), regulates MN excitability and is a potential target to modulate disease development in ALS mice. We show here that PF-8380, a specific ATX inhibitor, reduced intrinsic membrane excitability (IME) of hypoglossal MNs in brainstem slices, supporting that baseline ATX activity regulates MN IME. PF-8380-induced alterations were prevented by a small-interfering RNA directed against mRNA for lpa1 . These outcomes support that impact of ATX-originated lysophospholipids on MN IME engages, at least, the G-protein-coupled receptor LPA1 . Interestingly, mRNAatx levels increased in the spinal cord of pre-symptomatic (1-2 months old) SOD1-G93A mice, thus preceding MN loss. The rise in transcripts levels also occurred in cultured spinal cord MNs from SOD1-G93A embryos, suggesting that mRNAatx upregulation in MNs is an etiopathogenic event in the ALS cell model. Remarkably, chronic administration in the drinking water of the orally bioavailable ATX inhibitor PF-8380 delayed MN loss, motor deterioration and prolonged life span in ALS mice. Treatment also led to a reduction in LPA1 -immunoreactive patches in transgenic animals mostly in MNs. These outcomes support that neuroprotective effects of interfering with ATX in SOD1-G93A mice rely, at least in part, on LPA1  knockdown in MNs. Therefore, we propose ATX as a potential target and/or a biomarker in ALS and highlight ATX inhibitors as reasonable tools with therapeutic usefulness for this lethal pathology.
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LPA1/EDG2, amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, autotaxin/ENPP2, intrinsic membrane excitability, motor neuron, neurodegeneration