Tetramethylpyrazine nitrone improves motor dysfunction and pathological manifestations by activating the PGC-1α/Nrf2/HO-1 pathway in ALS mice

Neuropharmacology. 2021 Jan:182:108380. doi: 10.1016/j.neuropharm.2020.108380. Epub 2020 Nov 2.


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease characterized by progressive loss of upper and lower motor neurons that results in skeletal muscle atrophy, weakness and paralysis. Oxidative stress plays a key role in the pathogenesis of ALS, including familial forms of the disease arising from mutation of the gene coding for superoxide dismutase (SOD1). We have used the SOD1G93A ALS mouse model to investigate the efficacy of 2-[[(1,1-dimethylethyl)oxidoimino]-methyl]-3,5,6-trimethylpyrazine (TBN), a novel tetramethylpyrazine derivative armed with a powerful free-radical scavenging nitrone moiety. TBN was administered to mice by intraperitoneal or intragastric injection after the onset of motor deficits. TBN slowed the progression of motor neuron disease as evidenced by improved motor performance, reduced spinal motor neuron loss and the associated glial response, and decreased skeletal muscle fiber denervation and fibrosis. TBN treatment activated mitochondrial antioxidant activity through the PGC-1α/Nrf2/HO-1 pathway and decreased the expression of human SOD1. These findings suggest that TBN holds promise as a therapeutic agent for ALS.

Keywords: Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Human SOD1; Oxidative stress; PGC-1α; TBN.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / drug therapy*
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / metabolism*
  • Animals
  • Female
  • Hand Strength / physiology
  • Heme Oxygenase-1 / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Membrane Proteins / metabolism*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2 / metabolism*
  • Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor Gamma Coactivator 1-alpha / metabolism*
  • Pyrazines / pharmacology
  • Pyrazines / therapeutic use*
  • Superoxide Dismutase-1 / biosynthesis
  • Superoxide Dismutase-1 / genetics


  • Membrane Proteins
  • NF-E2-Related Factor 2
  • Nfe2l2 protein, mouse
  • Peroxisome Proliferator-Activated Receptor Gamma Coactivator 1-alpha
  • Ppargc1a protein, mouse
  • Pyrazines
  • SOD1 protein, human
  • tetramethylpyrazine nitrone
  • Heme Oxygenase-1
  • Hmox1 protein, mouse
  • Superoxide Dismutase-1