Adenosine 5'-monophosphate-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is a master regulator of energy balance. As energy imbalance is documented as a key pathologic feature of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), we investigated AMPK as a pharmacologic target in SOD1(G93A) mice. We noted a strong activation of AMPK in lumbar spinal cords of SOD1(G93A) mice. Pharmacologic activation of AMPK has shown protective effects in neuronal "preconditioning" models. We tested the hypothesis that "preconditioning" with a small molecule activator of AMPK, latrepirdine, exerts beneficial effects on disease progression. SOD1(G93A) mice (n = 24 animals per group; sex and litter matched) were treated with latrepirdine (1 μg/kg, intraperitoneal) or vehicle from postnatal day 70 to 120. Treatment with latrepirdine increased AMPK activity in primary mouse motor neuron cultures and in SOD1(G93A) lumbar spinal cords. Mice "preconditioned" with latrepirdine showed a delayed symptom onset and a significant increase in life span (p < 0.01). Our study suggests that "preconditioning" with latrepirdine may represent a possible therapeutic strategy for individuals harboring ALS-associated gene mutations who are at risk for developing ALS.
Keywords: AMPK; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Bioenergetics; Motoneuron degeneration; Pre-conditioning; SOD1; Spinal cord.
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