Melatonin inhibits the caspase-1/cytochrome c/caspase-3 cell death pathway, inhibits MT1 receptor loss and delays disease progression in a mouse model of amyothrophic lateral sclerosis

Yi Zhang, Anna Cook, Jinho Kim, Sergei V. Baranov, Jiying Jiang, Karen Smith, Kerry Cormier, Erik Bennett, Robert P. Browser, Arthur L. Day, Diane L. Carlisle, Robert J. Ferrante, Xin Wang, Robert M. Friedlander
Caspase-mediated cell death contributes to the pathogenesis of motor neuron degeneration in the mutant SOD1G93A transgenic mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS), along with other factors such as inflammation and oxidative damage. By screening a drug library, we found that melatonin, a pineal hormone, inhibited cytochrome c release in purified mitochondria and prevented cell death in cultured neurons. In this study, we evaluated whether melatonin would slow disease progression in SOD1G93A mice. We demonstrate that melatonin significantly delayed disease onset, neurological deterioration and mortality in ALS mice. ALS-associated ventral horn atrophy and motor neuron death were also inhibited by melatonin treatment. Melatonin inhibited Rip2/caspase-1 pathway activation, blocked the release of mitochondrial cytochrome c, and reduced the overexpression and activation of caspase-3. Moreover, for the first time, we determined that disease progression was associated with the loss of both melatonin and the melatonin receptor 1A (MT1) in the spinal cord of ALS mice. These results demonstrate that melatonin is neuroprotective in transgenic ALS mice, and this protective effect is mediated through its effects on the caspase-mediated cell death pathway. Furthermore, our data suggest that melatonin and MT1 receptor loss may play a role in the pathological phenotype observed in ALS. The above observations indicate that melatonin and modulation of Rip2/caspase-1/cytochrome c or MT1 pathways may be promising therapeutic approaches for ALS.

Source: Sciencedirect

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