Dendrimer–N-acetyl-L-cysteine modulates monophagocytic response in adrenoleukodystrophy

Bela R. Turk, Christina L. Nemeth, Joel S. Marx, Carol Tiffany, Richard Jones, Benjamin Theisen, Siva Kambhampati, Raj Ramireddy, Sarabdeep Singh, Melissa Rosen, Miriam L. Kaufman, Connor F. Murray, Paul A. Watkins, Sujatha Kannan, Rangaramanujam Kannan, Ali Fatemi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

10 Scopus citations


Objective: X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) is a neurodegenerative disorder due to mutations in the peroxisomal very long-chain fatty acyl-CoA transporter, ABCD1, with limited therapeutic options. ALD may manifest in a slowly progressive adrenomyeloneuropathy (AMN) phenotype, or switch to rapid inflammatory demyelinating cerebral disease (cALD), in which microglia have been shown to play a pathophysiological role. The aim of this study was to determine the role of patient phenotype in the immune response of ex vivo monophagocytic cells to stimulation, and to evaluate the efficacy of polyamidoamine dendrimer conjugated to the antioxidant precursor N-acetyl-cysteine (NAC) in modulating this immune response. Methods: Human monophagocytic cells were derived from fresh whole blood, from healthy (n = 4), heterozygote carrier (n = 4), AMN (n = 7), and cALD (n = 4) patients. Cells were exposed to very long-chain fatty acids (VLCFAs; C24:0 and C26:0) and treated with dendrimer-NAC (D-NAC). Results: Ex vivo exposure to VLCFAs significantly increased tumor necrosis factor α (TNFα) and glutamate secretion from cALD patient macrophages. Additionally, a significant reduction in total intracellular glutathione was observed in cALD patient cells. D-NAC treatment dose-dependently reduced TNFα and glutamate secretion and replenished total intracellular glutathione levels in cALD patient macrophages, more efficiently than NAC. Similarly, D-NAC treatment decreased glutamate secretion in AMN patient cells. Interpretation: ALD phenotypes display unique inflammatory profiles in response to VLCFA stimulation, and therefore ex vivo monophagocytic cells may provide a novel test bed for therapeutic agents. Based on our findings, D-NAC may be a viable therapeutic strategy for the treatment of cALD. Ann Neurol 2018;84:452–462.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)452-462
Number of pages11
JournalAnnals of neurology
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 2018

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Clinical Neurology


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