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Neurosci Res. 2007 Dec;59(4):446-56. Epub 2007 Aug 31.

Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) attenuates gliosis and motoneuronal degeneration in the brainstem motor nuclei of a transgenic mouse model of ALS.

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Division of Molecular Regenerative Medicine, Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, Osaka University Graduate School of Medicine, Osaka, Japan.


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive loss of brainstem and spinal motoneurons. Although prevention of motoneuronal degeneration has been postulated as the primary target for a cure, accumulating evidence suggests that microglial accumulation contributes to disease progression. This study was designed to assess the ability of HGF to modulate microglial accumulation and motoneuronal degeneration in brainstem motor nuclei, using double transgenic mice overexpressing mutated SOD1(G93A) and HGF (G93A/HGF). Histological and immunohistochemical analyses of the tissues of G93A/HGF mice revealed a marked decrease in the number of microglia and reactive astrocytes and an attenuation of the loss of motoneurons in facial and hypoglossal nuclei compared with G93A mice. HGF overexpression attenuated monocyte chemoattractant protein-1 (MCP-1) induction, predominantly in astrocytes; suppressed activation of caspase-1, -3 and -9; and, increased X chromosome-linked inhibition of apoptosis protein (XIAP) in the motoneurons of G93A mice. The implication is that HGF reduces microglial accumulation by suppressing MCP-1 induction and prevents motoneuronal death through inhibition of pro-apoptotic protein activation. These findings suggest that, in addition to direct neurotrophic activity on motoneurons, HGF-suppression of gliosis may retard disease progression, making HGF a potential therapeutic agent for the treatment of ALS patients.

[Indexed for MEDLINE]

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