Background: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive death of motor neurons. Although the pathogenesis of ALS remains unclear, several cellular processes are known to be involved, including apoptosis. A previous study revealed the apoptosis-related gene c-Abl to be upregulated in sporadic ALS motor neurons. Methodology/Findings: We investigated the possibility that c-Abl activation is involved in the progression of ALS and that c-Abl inhibition is potentially a therapeutic strategy for ALS. Using a mouse motor neuron cell line, we found that mutation of Cu/Zn-superoxide dismutase-1 (SOD1), which is one of the causative genes of familial ALS, induced the upregulation of c-Abl and decreased cell viability, and that the c-Abl inhibitor dasatinib inhibited cytotoxicity. Activation of c-Abl with a concomitant increase in activated caspase-3 was observed in the lumbar spine of G93A-SOD1 transgenic mice (G93A mice), a widely used model of ALS. The survival of G93A mice was improved by oral administration of dasatinib, which also decreased c-Abl phosphorylation, inactivated caspase-3, and improved the innervation status of neuromuscular junctions. In addition, c-Abl expression in postmortem spinal cord tissues from sporadic ALS patients was increased by 3-fold compared with non-ALS patients. Conclusions/Significance: The present results suggest that c-Abl is a potential therapeutic target for ALS and that the c-Abl inhibitor dasatinib has neuroprotective properties in vitro and in vivo. © 2012 Katsumata et al.
Katsumata, R., Ishigaki, S., Katsuno, M., Kawai, K., Sone, J., Huang, Z., … Sobue, G. (2012). c-Abl Inhibition Delays Motor Neuron Degeneration in the G93A Mouse, an Animal Model of Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis. PLoS ONE, 7(9). https://doi.org/10.1371/journal.pone.0046185