Treatment with ROS detoxifying gold quantum clusters alleviates the functional decline in a mouse model of Friedreich ataxia

Sci Transl Med. 2021 Aug 18;13(607):eabe1633. doi: 10.1126/scitranslmed.abe1633.


Friedreich ataxia (FRDA) is caused by the reduced expression of the mitochondrial protein frataxin (FXN) due to an intronic GAA trinucleotide repeat expansion in the FXN gene. Although FRDA has no cure and few treatment options, there is research dedicated to finding an agent that can curb disease progression and address symptoms as neurobehavioral deficits, muscle endurance, and heart contractile dysfunctions. Because oxidative stress and mitochondrial dysfunctions are implicated in FRDA, we demonstrated the systemic delivery of catalysts activity of gold cluster superstructures (Au8-pXs) to improve cell response to mitochondrial reactive oxygen species and thereby alleviate FRDA-related pathology in mesenchymal stem cells from patients with FRDA. We also found that systemic injection of Au8-pXs ameliorated motor function and cardiac contractility of YG8sR mouse model that recapitulates the FRDA phenotype. These effects were associated to long-term improvement of mitochondrial functions and antioxidant cell responses. We related these events to an increased expression of frataxin, which was sustained by reduced autophagy. Overall, these results encourage further optimization of Au8-pXs in experimental clinical strategies for the treatment of FRDA.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Friedreich Ataxia*
  • Gold
  • Humans
  • Mice
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Trinucleotide Repeat Expansion


  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Gold