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Acta Neuropathol Commun. 2019 Jun 12;7(1):96. doi: 10.1186/s40478-019-0737-z.

Intrathecal delivery of recombinant AAV1 encoding hepatocyte growth factor improves motor functions and protects neuromuscular system in the nerve crush and SOD1-G93A transgenic mouse models.

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School of Biological Sciences, Seoul National University, Gwanak-Gu, Seoul, 08826, Korea.
R&D Center for Innovative Medicines, Helixmith Co., Ltd., Building 203, Gwanak-Gu, Seoul, 08826, Korea.
R&D Center for Innovative Medicines, Helixmith Co., Ltd., Building 203, Gwanak-Gu, Seoul, 08826, Korea.


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neuromuscular disease resulting from motor neuron degeneration that causes muscle weakness, paralysis, and eventually respiratory failure. We investigated whether recombinant adeno-associated virus encoding human hepatocyte growth factor (rAAV-HGF) could generate beneficial effects in two mouse models with neuromuscular problems when intrathecally delivered to the subarachnoid space. We chose AAV serotype 1 (rAAV1) based on the expression levels and distribution of HGF protein in the lumbar spinal cord (LSC). After a single intrathecal (IT) injection of rAAV1-HGF, the protein level of HGF in the LSC peaked on day 14 and thereafter gradually decreased over the next 14 weeks. rAAV1-HGF was initially tested in the mouse nerve crush model. IT injection of rAAV1-HGF improved mouse hindlimb strength and rotarod performance, while histological analyses showed that the length of regenerated axons was increased and the structure of the neuromuscular junction (NMJ) was restored. rAAV1-HGF was also evaluated in the SOD1-G93A transgenic (TG) mouse model. Again, rAAV1-HGF not only improved motor performance but also increased the survival rate. Moreover, the number and diameter of spinal motor neurons (SMNs) were increased, and the shape of the NMJs restored. Data from in vitro motor cortical culture experiments indicated that treatment with recombinant HGF protein (rHGF) increased the axon length of corticospinal motor neurons (CSMNs). When cultures were treated with an ERK inhibitor, the effects of HGF on axon elongation, protein aggregation, and oxidative stress were suppressed, indicating that ERK phosphorylation played an important role(s). Taken together, our results suggested that HGF might play an important role(s) in delaying disease progression in the SOD1-G93A TG mouse model by reducing oxidative stress through the control of ERK phosphorylation.


Adeno-associated virus (AAV); Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS); Corticospinal motor neuron (CSMN); Hepatocyte growth factor (HGF); Oxidative stress

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