A prominent clinical feature of ALS is muscle weakness due to dysfunction, denervation and degeneration of motoneurons (MNs). While MN degeneration is a late stage event in the ALS mouse model, muscle denervation occurs significantly earlier in the disease. Strategies to prevent this early denervation may improve quality of life by maintaining muscle control and slowing disease progression. The precise cause of MN dysfunction and denervation is not known, but several mechanisms have been proposed that involve potentially toxic intra- and extracellular changes. Many cells confront these changes by mounting a stress response that includes increased expression of heat shock protein 70 (Hsp70). MNs do not upregulate Hsp70, and this may result in a potentially increased vulnerability. We previously reported that recombinant human hsp70 (rhHsp70) injections delayed symptom onset and increased lifespan in SOD1 G93A mice. The exogenous rhHsp70 was localized to the muscle and not to spinal cord or brain suggesting it modulates peripheral pathophysiology. In the current study, we focused on earlier administration of Hsp70 and its effect on initial muscle denervation. Injections of the protein appeared to arrest denervation with preserved large myelinated peripheral axons, and reduced glial activation.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Clinical Neurology