Bisperoxovanadium promotes motor neuron survival and neuromuscular innervation in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Mol Brain. 2021 Oct 11;14(1):155. doi: 10.1186/s13041-021-00867-7.


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is the most common motor neuron (MN) disease, with no present cure. The progressive loss of MNs is the hallmark of ALS. We have previously shown the therapeutic effects of the phosphatase and tensin homolog (PTEN) inhibitor, potassium bisperoxo (picolinato) vanadium (bpV[pic]), in models of neurological injury and demonstrated significant neuroprotective effects on MN survival. However, accumulating evidence suggests PTEN is detrimental for MN survival in ALS. Therefore, we hypothesized that treating the mutant superoxide dismutase 1 G93A (mSOD1G93A) mouse model of ALS during motor neuron degeneration and an in vitro model of mSOD1G93A motor neuron injury with bpV(pic) would prevent motor neuron loss. To test our hypothesis, we treated mSOD1G93A mice intraperitoneally daily with 400 μg/kg bpV(pic) from 70 to 90 days of age. Immunolabeled MNs and microglial reactivity were analyzed in lumbar spinal cord tissue, and bpV(pic) treatment significantly ameliorated ventral horn motor neuron loss in mSOD1G93A mice (p = 0.003) while not significantly altering microglial reactivity (p = 0.701). Treatment with bpV(pic) also significantly increased neuromuscular innervation (p = 0.018) but did not affect muscle atrophy. We also cultured motor neuron-like NSC-34 cells transfected with a plasmid to overexpress mutant SOD1G93A and starved them in serum-free medium for 24 h with and without bpV(pic) and downstream inhibitor of Akt signaling, LY294002. In vitro, bpV(pic) improved neuronal viability, and Akt inhibition reversed this protective effect (p < 0.05). In conclusion, our study indicates systemic bpV(pic) treatment could be a valuable neuroprotective therapy for ALS.

Keywords: ALS; Akt; Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis; Motor neuron; PTEN; bpV.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / drug therapy*
  • Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis / pathology
  • Animals
  • Anterior Horn Cells / drug effects
  • Cells, Cultured
  • Chromones / pharmacology
  • Culture Media, Serum-Free / pharmacology
  • Humans
  • Mice, Transgenic
  • Microglia / drug effects
  • Models, Animal
  • Morpholines / pharmacology
  • Motor Neurons / drug effects*
  • Muscular Atrophy / etiology
  • Muscular Atrophy / pathology
  • Mutation, Missense
  • Neuromuscular Junction / drug effects
  • Neuroprotective Agents / pharmacology
  • Neuroprotective Agents / therapeutic use*
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Point Mutation
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt / antagonists & inhibitors
  • Superoxide Dismutase-1 / deficiency
  • Superoxide Dismutase-1 / genetics
  • Vanadium Compounds / pharmacology
  • Vanadium Compounds / therapeutic use*


  • Chromones
  • Culture Media, Serum-Free
  • Morpholines
  • Neuroprotective Agents
  • SOD1 protein, human
  • Vanadium Compounds
  • bisperoxovanadium
  • 2-(4-morpholinyl)-8-phenyl-4H-1-benzopyran-4-one
  • Superoxide Dismutase-1
  • Akt1 protein, mouse
  • Proto-Oncogene Proteins c-akt
  • PTEN Phosphohydrolase
  • PTEN protein, human