Focal and dose-dependent neuroprotection in ALS mice following AAV2-neurturin delivery

Sarah K. Gross, Bo Sung Shim, Raymond T. Bartus, Dan Deaver, Zachary McEachin, Alexandre Bétourné, Nicholas M. Boulis, Nicholas J. Maragakis

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

2 Scopus citations


Neurotrophic factors as candidates for ALS therapeutics have previously been studied in the context of attempts to slow disease progression. For a variety of reasons, clinical trials of neurotrophic factors have failed to show efficacy in ALS patients. Previous studies in Parkinson's Disease (PD) models have shown promise with the use of recombinant adeno-associated virus serotype-2 (rAAV2)-neurturin (NRTN) [AAV2-NRTN] providing neuroprotection and behavioral improvements in preclinical models which subsequently resulted in several clinical studies in patients with PD. Given that this neurotrophic compound has not been studied in the context of ALS, we conducted a study of AAV2-NRTN to assess the preclinical safety, tolerability, biodistribution, and efficacy of this compound in an ALS mouse model. SOD1G93A mice were injected with AAV2-NRTN intraspinally at several doses into the cervical spinal cord at 60 days of age. NRTN expression was noted in motor neurons (MNs) of the targeted cervical spinal cord as well as in their neuromuscular junction projections but not in the lumbar spinal cord, which was not targeted. Neuropathologically, a dose-dependent neuroprotective effect was seen in cervical MNs and neuromuscular junctions that was reflected in a slowing of forelimb grip strength decline. As expected, this neuroprotection was found to be focal and was not seen beyond the immediate region of injection. Overall, there were no increases in morbidity, changes in serum chemistries or blood counts and no cases of drug-related mortality. Because there is a broad clinical experience for this compound, these data provide evidence to support further investigation of AAV2-NRTN as a potential ALS therapeutic.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number113091
JournalExperimental Neurology
StatePublished - Jan 2020


  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Gene therapy
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Neuroprotection
  • Viral vector

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology
  • Developmental Neuroscience


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