Neurotrophic activity of neuroimmunophilin ligands (FK506 and its nonimmunosuppressant derivatives) has been assumed to be mediated by the FK506-binding protein-12 (FKBP-12). We recently showed that activity is retained in hippocampal neurons from FKBP-12 knockout mice, indicating that binding to FKBP-12 is not necessary. Here we show that three nonimmunosuppressant FK506 derivatives (V-13,450, V-13,629, and V-13,670) that do not bind FKBP-12 (>12.5 mM affinity) are equipotent to FKBP-12 ligands (FK506, V-10,367, and V-13,449) for increasing neurite elongation in SH-SY5Y cells. One non-FKBP-12 ligand (V-13,670) is also shown to accelerate functional recovery and nerve regeneration in the rat sciatic nerve crush model. Surprisingly, it exhibited an unusual dose-response effect upon oral administration, showing a novel bimodal dose-response for behavioral functional recovery and myelination, but not for axonal size, suggesting both Schwann cell and neuronal targets. Orally active non-FKBP-12 neuroimmunophilin ligands may be useful for the treatment of human neurological disorders without any potential side effects resulting from FKBP-12 binding.
(c) 2005 Wiley-Liss, Inc.