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J Immunol. 2008 Dec 15;181(12):8727-34.

The complement factor C5a contributes to pathology in a rat model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis.

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School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Queensland, Brisbane, Australia.


Complement activation products are elevated in the cerebrospinal fluid and spinal cord of patients with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). In this study, we demonstrate complement system involvement in a rodent model of ALS (human SOD1(G93A) transgenic rats). With end-stage disease, SOD1(G93A) rats displayed marked deposition of C3/C3b, and a significant up-regulation of the C5aR in the lumbar spinal cord. This was associated with increased numbers of C5aR-positive astrocytes. However, expression of C5L2, the alternative receptor for C5a, was highest on motor neurons early in the disease process. To determine the contribution of C5a to the pathology displayed by this model of ALS, rats were administered an orally active, selective C5aR antagonist (PMX205; 1 mg/kg/day, oral). Animals treated with PMX205 displayed a significant extension of survival time and a reduction in end-stage motor scores, as compared with vehicle-treated rats. PMX205-treated animals also displayed reduced levels of astroglial proliferation in the lumbar spinal cord. This study provides the first demonstration of an involvement of C5a in an ALS model and suggests that inhibitors of complement activation could be beneficial in the treatment of this neurodegenerative disease.

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