[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Sustained inflammatory reactions are common pathological events associated with neuron loss in neurodegenerative diseases. Reported evidence suggests that Toll-like receptor 4 (TLR4) is a key player of neuroinflammation in several neurodegenerative diseases. However, the mechanisms by which TLR4 mediates neurotoxic signals remain poorly understood. We investigated the role of TLR4 in in vitro and in vivo settings of motor neuron degeneration. Using primary cultures from mouse spinal cords, we characterized both the proinflammatory and neurotoxic effects of TLR4 activation with lipopolysaccharide (activation of microglial cells, release of proinflammatory cytokines and motor neuron death) and the protective effects of a cyanobacteria-derived TLR4 antagonist (VB3323). With the use of TLR4-deficient cells, a critical role of the microglial component with functionally active TLR4 emerged in this setting. The in vivo experiments were carried out in a mouse model of spontaneous motor neuron degeneration, the wobbler mouse, where we preliminarily confirmed a protective effect of TLR4 antagonism. Compared with vehicle- and riluzole-treated mice, those chronically treated with VB3323 showed a decrease in microglial activation and morphological alterations of spinal cord neurons and a better performance in the paw abnormality and grip-strength tests. Taken together, our data add new understanding of the role of TLR4 in mediating neurotoxicity in the spinal cord and suggest that TLR4 antagonists could be considered in future studies as candidate protective agents for motor neurons in degenerative diseases.
Molecular Medicine 05/2012; 18(9):971-81. · 4.82 Impact Factor
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: INTRODUCTION In pathological conditions, persistent immune-stimulating signals may induce aberrant microglial activation with ele-vated cytokine release, eventually lead-ing to neuronal injury. Toll-like receptors (TLRs) recognize highly conserved struc-tural motifs from either pathogens or damaged and stressed tissues and are
[Show abstract][Hide abstract] ABSTRACT: Mesenchymal stem cell (MSC) therapy is considered one of the most promising approaches for treating different neurodegenerative disorders, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). We previously characterized a subpopulation of human skeletal muscle-derived stem cells (SkmSCs) with MSC-like characteristics that differentiate into the neurogenic lineage in vitro. In the present study, we evaluated the SkmSC therapeutic effects in the most characterized model of spontaneous motor neuron degeneration, the Wobbler (Wr) mouse. Before evaluating the therapeutic efficacy in the Wr mouse, we followed the route of Skm-SCs at different times after intracerebroventricular injection. Two exogenous tracers, superparamagnetic iron oxide (SPIO) nanoparticles and Hoechst 33258, were used for the in vivo and ex vivo tracking of SkmSCs. We found that the loading of both Hoechst and SPIO was not toxic and efficiently labeled SkmSCs. The magnetic resonance imaging (MRI) system 7 Tesla allowed us to localize transplanted SkmSCs along the whole ventricular system up to 18 wks after injection. The ex vivo Hoechst 33258 visualization confirmed the in vivo results obtained by MRI analyses. Behavioral observations revealed a fast and sustained improvement of motor efficacy in SkmSC-treated Wr mice associated with a relevant protection of functional neuromuscular junctions. Moreover, we found that in SkmSC-treated Wr mice, a significant increase of important human antiinflammatory cytokines occurred. This evidence is in accordance with previous findings showing the bystander effect of stem cell transplantation in neurodegenerative disorders and further strengthens the hypothesis of the possible link between inflammation, cytotoxicity and ALS.
Molecular Medicine 11/2011; 18(1):401-11. DOI:10.2119/molmed.2011.00123 · 4.82 Impact Factor