[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Gaucher disease is caused by mutations in the glucocerebrosidase gene, which encodes the lysosomal hydrolase glucosylceramidase. Patients with Gaucher disease and heterozygous glucocerebrosidase mutation carriers are at increased risk of developing Parkinson's disease. Indeed, glucocerebrosidase mutations are the most frequent risk factor for Parkinson's disease in the general population. Therefore there is an urgent need to understand the mechanisms by which glucocerebrosidase mutations predispose to neurodegeneration to facilitate development of novel treatments. To study this we generated fibroblast lines from skin biopsies of five patients with Gaucher disease and six heterozygous glucocerebrosidase mutation carriers with and without Parkinson's disease. Glucosylceramidase protein and enzyme activity levels were assayed. Oxidative stress was assayed by single cell imaging of dihydroethidium. Glucosylceramidase enzyme activity was significantly reduced in fibroblasts from patients with Gaucher disease (median 5% of controls, P = 0.0001) and heterozygous mutation carriers with (median 59% of controls, P = 0.001) and without (56% of controls, P = 0.001) Parkinson's disease compared with controls. Glucosylceramidase protein levels, assessed by western blot, were significantly reduced in fibroblasts from Gaucher disease (median glucosylceramidase levels 42% of control, P < 0.001) and heterozygous mutation carriers with (median 59% of control, P < 0.001) and without (median 68% of control, P < 0.001) Parkinson's disease. Single cell imaging of dihydroethidium demonstrated increased production of cytosolic reactive oxygen species in fibroblasts from patients with Gaucher disease (dihydroethidium oxidation rate increased by a median of 62% compared to controls, P < 0.001) and heterozygous mutation carriers with (dihydroethidium oxidation rate increased by a median of 68% compared with controls, P < 0.001) and without (dihydroethidium oxidation rate increased by a median of 70% compared with controls, P < 0.001) Parkinson's disease. We hypothesized that treatment with the molecular chaperone ambroxol hydrochloride would improve these biochemical abnormalities. Treatment with ambroxol hydrochloride increased glucosylceramidase activity in fibroblasts from healthy controls, Gaucher disease and heterozygous glucocerebrosidase mutation carriers with and without Parkinson's disease. This was associated with a significant reduction in dihydroethidium oxidation rate of ∼50% (P < 0.05) in fibroblasts from controls, Gaucher disease and heterozygous mutation carriers with and without Parkinson's disease. In conclusion, glucocerebrosidase mutations are associated with reductions in glucosylceramidase activity and evidence of oxidative stress. Ambroxol treatment significantly increases glucosylceramidase activity and reduces markers of oxidative stress in cells bearing glucocerebrosidase mutations. We propose that ambroxol hydrochloride should be further investigated as a potential treatment for Parkinson's disease.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mutation of the lysosomal hydrolase acid-β-glucosidase (GCase), which leads to reduced GCase activity, is one of the most frequent genetic risk factors for Parkinson's disease (PD) and promotes α-synuclein accumulation in the brain, a hallmark of PD and other synucleinopathies. Whether targeting GCase pharmacologically is a valid therapeutic strategy for sporadic PD in the absence of GCase mutation is unknown. We have investigated whether increasing the stability, trafficking, and activity of wild-type GCase could be beneficial in synucleinopathies by administering the pharmacological chaperone AT2101 (afegostat-tartrate, isofagomine) to mice that overexpress human wild-type α-synuclein (Thy1-aSyn mice). AT2101 administered orally for 4 months to Thy1-aSyn mice improved motor and nonmotor function, abolished microglial inflammatory response in the substantia nigra, reduced α-synuclein immunoreactivity in nigral dopaminergic neurons, and reduced the number of small α-synuclein aggregates, while increasing the number of large α-synuclein aggregates. These data support the further investigation of pharmacological chaperones that target GCase as a therapeutic approach for sporadic PD and other synucleinopathies, even in the absence of glucocerebrosidase mutations.
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Several important advances have been made in our understanding of the pathways that lead to cell dysfunction and death in Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease. These advances have been informed by both direct analysis of the post-mortem brain and by study of the biological consequences of the genetic causes of these diseases. Some of the pathways that have been implicated so far include mitochondrial dysfunction, oxidative stress, kinase pathways, calcium dysregulation, inflammation, protein handling, and prion-like processes. Intriguingly, these pathways seem to be important in the pathogenesis of both diseases and have led to the identification of molecular targets for candidate interventions designed to slow or reverse their course. We review some recent advances that underlie putative therapies for neuroprotection in Parkinson's disease and Huntington's disease, and potential targets that might be exploited in the future. Although we will need to overcome important hurdles, especially in terms of clinical trial design, we propose several target pathways that merit further study. In Parkinson's disease, these targets include agents that might improve mitochondrial function or increase degradation of defective mitochondria, kinase inhibitors, calcium channel blockers, and approaches that interfere with the misfolding, templating, and transmission of α-synuclein. In Huntington's disease, strategies might also be directed at mitochondrial bioenergetics and turnover, the prevention of protein dysregulation, disruption of the interaction between huntingtin and p53 or huntingtin-interacting protein 1 to reduce apoptosis, and interference with expression of mutant huntingtin at both the nucleic acid and protein levels.
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