Cell-permeable peptide antioxidants as a novel therapeutic approach in a mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

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Reactive oxygen species (ROS) play a major role in the pathogenesis of neurodegenerative diseases. They are important contributors to necrotic and apoptotic cell death. A major proportion of cellular ROS is generated at the inner mitochondrial membrane by the respiratory chain. In the present study, we investigated a novel peptide antioxidant (SS-31) targeted to the inner mitochondrial membrane for its therapeutic effects both in vitro and in vivo in the G93A mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). SS-31 protected against cell death induced by hydrogen peroxide in vitro in neuronal cells stably transfected with either wild-type or mutant Cu/Zn superoxide dismutase (SOD1). Daily intraperitoneal injections of SS-31 (5 mg/kg), starting at 30 days of age, led to a significant improvement in survival and motor performance. In comparison with vehicle-treated G93A mice, SS-31-treated mice showed a decreased cell loss and a decrease in immunostaining for markers of oxidative stress in the lumbar spinal cord. This further enhances the concept that pharmacological modification of oxidative stress is a therapeutic option for the treatment of ALS.

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