Stimulation of Sphingosine Kinase 1 (SPHK1) Is Beneficial in a Huntington's Disease Pre-clinical Model

Front Mol Neurosci. 2019 Apr 24;12:100. doi: 10.3389/fnmol.2019.00100. eCollection 2019.


Although several agents have been identified to provide therapeutic benefits in Huntington disease (HD), the number of conventionally used treatments remains limited and only symptomatic. Thus, it is plausible that the need to identify new therapeutic targets for the development of alternative and more effective treatments is becoming increasingly urgent. Recently, the sphingosine-1-phosphate (S1P) axis has been reported to be a valid potential novel molecular target for therapy development in HD. Modulation of aberrant metabolism of S1P in HD has been proved to exert neuroprotective action in vitro settings including human HD iPSC-derived neurons. In this study, we investigated whether promoting S1P production by stimulating Sphingosine Kinase 1 (SPHK1) by the selective activator, K6PC-5, may have therapeutic benefit in vivo in R6/2 HD mouse model. Our findings indicate that chronic administration of 0.05 mg/kg K6PC-5 exerted an overall beneficial effect in R6/2 mice. It significantly slowed down the progressive motor deficit associated with disease progression, modulated S1P metabolism, evoked the activation of pro-survival pathways and markedly reduced the toxic mutant huntingtin (mHtt) aggregation. These results suggest that K6PC-5 may represent a future therapeutic option in HD and may potentially counteract the perturbed brain function induced by deregulated S1P pathways.

Keywords: HD; K6PC-5; SPHK1; aggregates; neuroprotection.