The heat shock protein amplifier arimoclomol improves refolding, maturation and lysosomal activity of glucocerebrosidase

EBioMedicine. 2018 Dec:38:142-153. doi: 10.1016/j.ebiom.2018.11.037. Epub 2018 Nov 27.


Background: Gaucher Disease is caused by mutations of the GBA gene which encodes the lysosomal enzyme acid beta-glucosidase (GCase). GBA mutations commonly affect GCase function by perturbing its protein homeostasis rather than its catalytic activity. Heat shock proteins are well known cytoprotective molecules with functions in protein homeostasis and lysosomal function and their manipulation has been suggested as a potential therapeutic strategy for GD. The investigational drug arimoclomol, which is in phase II/III clinical trials, is a well-characterized HSP amplifier and has been extensively clinically tested. Importantly, arimoclomol efficiently crosses the blood-brain-barrier presenting an opportunity to target the neurological manifestations of GD, which remains without a disease-modifying therapy.

Methods: We used a range of biological and biochemical in vitro assays to assess the effect of arimoclomol on GCase activity in ex vivo systems of primary fibroblasts and neuronal-like cells from GD patients.

Findings: We found that arimoclomol induced relevant HSPs such as ER-resident HSP70 (BiP) and enhanced the folding, maturation, activity, and correct cellular localization of mutated GCase across several genotypes including the common L444P and N370S mutations in primary cells from GD patients. These effects where recapitulated in a human neuronal model of GD obtained by differentiation of multipotent adult stem cells.

Interpretation: These data demonstrate the potential of HSP-targeting therapies in GCase-deficiencies and strongly support the clinical development of arimoclomol as a potential therapeutic option for the neuronopathic forms of GD.

Funding: The research was funded by Orphazyme A/S, Copenhagen, Denmark.

Keywords: Arimoclomol; GBA; GCase; Gaucher disease; HSP; HSP70; Heat shock proteins; Heat shock response; Lysosomal storage diseases; Lysosomes; Proteostasis; Sphingolipidoses.

MeSH terms

  • Cell Line
  • Endoplasmic Reticulum / metabolism
  • Enzyme Activation / drug effects
  • Fibroblasts / drug effects
  • Fibroblasts / metabolism
  • Gaucher Disease / genetics
  • Gaucher Disease / metabolism
  • Glucosylceramidase / chemistry*
  • Glucosylceramidase / genetics
  • Glucosylceramidase / metabolism*
  • Golgi Apparatus / metabolism
  • Heat-Shock Proteins / metabolism
  • Humans
  • Hydroxylamines / pharmacology*
  • Lysosomes / metabolism*
  • Mutation
  • Neurons
  • Protein Processing, Post-Translational
  • Protein Refolding / drug effects*
  • Protein Transport


  • Heat-Shock Proteins
  • Hydroxylamines
  • Glucosylceramidase
  • arimoclomol