Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the loss of motor neurons in the brain and spinal cord. ALS neuropathology is associated with increased oxidative stress, excitotoxicity, and inflammation. We and others reported that the anti-aging and cognition-enhancing protein Klotho is a neuroprotective, antioxidative, anti-inflammatory, and promyelinating protein. In mice, its absence leads to an extremely shortened life span and to multiple phenotypes resembling human aging, including motor and hippocampal neurodegeneration and cognitive impairment. In contrast, its overexpression extends life span, enhances cognition, and confers resistance against oxidative stress; it also reduces premature mortality and cognitive and behavioral abnormalities in an animal model for Alzheimer's disease (AD). These pleiotropic beneficial properties of Klotho suggest that Klotho could be a potent therapeutic target for preventing neurodegeneration in ALS. Klotho overexpression in the SOD1 mouse model of ALS resulted in delayed onset and progression of the disease and extended survival that was more prominent in females than in males. Klotho reduced the expression of neuroinflammatory markers and prevented neuronal loss with the more profound effect in the spinal cord than in the motor cortex. The effect of Klotho was accompanied by reduced expression of proinflammatory cytokines and enhanced the expression of antioxidative and promyelinating factors in the motor cortex and spinal cord of Klotho × SOD1 compared to SOD1 mice. Our study provides evidence that increased levels of Klotho alleviate ALS-associated pathology in the SOD1 mouse model and may serve as a basis for developing Klotho-based therapeutic strategies for ALS.
Keywords: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Microglia; Motor neurons; Neurodegeneration; Neuroinflammation; Therapeutics.