Protective effects of NAMPT or MAPK inhibitors and NaR on Wallerian degeneration of mammalian axons

Athanasios S. Alexandris, Jiwon Ryu, Labchan Rajbhandari, Robert Harlan, James McKenney, Yiqing Wang, Susan Aja, David Graham, Arun Venkatesan, Vassilis E. Koliatsos

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Wallerian degeneration (WD) is a conserved axonal self-destruction program implicated in several neurological diseases. WD is driven by the degradation of the NAD+ synthesizing enzyme NMNAT2, the buildup of its substrate NMN, and the activation of the NAD+ degrading SARM1, eventually leading to axonal fragmentation. The regulation and amenability of these events to therapeutic interventions remain unclear. Here we explored pharmacological strategies that modulate NMN and NAD+ metabolism, namely the inhibition of the NMN-synthesizing enzyme NAMPT, activation of the nicotinic acid riboside (NaR) salvage pathway and inhibition of the NMNAT2-degrading DLK MAPK pathway in an axotomy model in vitro. Results show that NAMPT and DLK inhibition cause a significant but time-dependent delay of WD. These time-dependent effects are related to NMNAT2 degradation and changes in NMN and NAD+ levels. Supplementation of NAMPT inhibition with NaR has an enhanced effect that does not depend on timing of intervention and leads to robust protection up to 4 days. Additional DLK inhibition extends this even further to 6 days. Metabolite analyses reveal complex effects indicating that NAMPT and MAPK inhibition act by reducing NMN levels, ameliorating NAD+ loss and suppressing SARM1 activity. Finally, the axonal NAD+/NMN ratio is highly predictive of cADPR levels, extending previous cell-free evidence on the allosteric regulation of SARM1. Our findings establish a window of axon protection extending several hours following injury. Moreover, we show prolonged protection by mixed treatments combining MAPK and NAMPT inhibition that proceed via complex effects on NAD+ metabolism and inhibition of SARM1.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article number105808
JournalNeurobiology of Disease
StatePublished - Sep 2022


  • NAD
  • NMNAT2
  • Neurodegeneration
  • Neuropathy
  • Niacin
  • SARM1

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Neurology


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