Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive and devastating neurodegenerative disease with increasing incidence and high mortality, resulting in a considerable socio-economic burden. Till now, plenty of studies have explored the potential relationship between circulating levels of various micronutrients and ALS risk. However, the observations remain equivocal and controversial. Thus, we conducted a two-sample Mendelian randomization (MR) study to investigate the causality between circulating concentrations of 9 micronutrients, including retinol, folate acid, vitamin B12, B6 and C, calcium, copper, zinc as well as magnesium, and ALS susceptibility. In our analysis, several single nucleotide polymorphisms were collected as instrumental variables from large-scale genome-wide association studies of these 9 micronutrients. Then, inverse variance weighted (IVW) approach as well as alternative MR-Egger regression, weighted median and MR-pleiotropy residual sum and outlier (MR-PRESSO) analyses were performed to evaluate causal estimates. The results from IVW analysis showed that there was no causal relationship of 9 micronutrients with ALS risk. Meanwhile, the three complementary approaches obtained similar results. Thus, our findings indicated that supplementation of these 9 micronutrients may not play a clinically effective role in preventing the occurrence of ALS.
Motor neuron diseases are a group of chronic sporadic and hereditary neurological disorders characterized by progressive degeneration of motor neurons. These might affect the upper motor neurons, lower motor neurons, or both. The prognosis of the motor neuron disease depends upon the age at onset and the area of the central nervous system affected. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) has been documented to be fatal within three years of onset. This activity focuses on amyotrophic lateral sclerosis as the prototype of MND, which affects both the upper and the lower motor neurons and discusses the role of inter-professional team in the differential diagnosis, evaluation, treatment, and prognostication. It also discusses various other phenotypes of MND with an emphasis on their distinguishing features in requisite detail.
Calcium (Ca2+) is a versatile secondary messenger involved in the regulation of a plethora of different signaling pathways for cell maintenance. Specifically, intracellular Ca2+ homeostasis is mainly regulated by the endoplasmic reticulum and the mitochondria, whose Ca2+ exchange is mediated by appositions, termed endoplasmic reticulum–mitochondria-associated membranes (MAMs), formed by proteins resident in both compartments. These tethers are essential to manage the mitochondrial Ca2+ influx that regulates the mitochondrial function of bioenergetics, mitochondrial dynamics, cell death, and oxidative stress. However, alterations of these pathways lead to the development of multiple human diseases, including neurological disorders, such as amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Friedreich’s ataxia, and Charcot–Marie–Tooth. A common hallmark in these disorders is mitochondrial dysfunction, associated with abnormal mitochondrial Ca2+ handling that contributes to neurodegeneration. In this work, we highlight the importance of Ca2+ signaling in mitochondria and how the mechanism of communication in MAMs is pivotal for mitochondrial maintenance and cell homeostasis. Lately, we outstand potential targets located in MAMs by addressing different therapeutic strategies focused on restoring mitochondrial Ca2+ uptake as an emergent approach for neurological diseases.
AbstractExposure to cyanotoxins has been linked to neurodegenerative diseases, including amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, Alzheimer’s, and Parkinson’s disease. While the cyanotoxin β-methylamino-L-alanine (BMAA) has received much attention, cyanobacteria produce many cyanotoxic compounds, several of which have been detected in nature alongside BMAA, including 2,4-diaminobutyric acid (2,4-DAB) and N-(2-aminoethyl)glycine (AEG). Thus, the question of whether 2,4-DAB and AEG also cause neurotoxic effects in vivo is of great interest, as is the question of whether they interact to enhance toxicity. Here, we evaluate the toxic and neurotoxic effects of these cyanotoxins alone or in combination by measuring zebrafish larval viability and behavior after exposure. 2,4-DAB was the most potent cyanotoxin as it decreased larval viability by approximately 50% at 6 days post fertilization, while BMAA and AEG decreased viability by just 16% and 8%, respectively. Although we only observed minor neurotoxic effects on spontaneous locomotion, BMAA and AEG enhanced acoustic startle sensitivity, and they interacted in an additive manner to exert their effects. 2,4-DAB; however, only modulated startle kinematics, an indication of motor dysfunction. To investigate the mechanisms of 2,4-DAB’s effects, we analyzed the protein profile of larval zebrafish exposed to 500 µM 2,4-DAB at two time points and identified molecular signatures consistent with neurodegeneration, including disruption of metabolic pathways and downregulation of the ALS-associated genes SOD1 and UBQLN4. Together, our data demonstrate that BMAA and its isomers AEG and 2,4-DAB cause neurotoxic effects in vivo, with 2,4-DAB as the most potent of the three in the zebrafish model.
Even if amyotrophic lateral sclerosis is still considered an orphan disease to date, its prevalence among the population is growing fast. Despite the efforts made by researchers and pharmaceutical companies, the cryptic information related to the biological and physiological onset mechanisms, as well as the complexity in identifying specific pharmacological targets, make it almost impossible to find effective treatments. Furthermore, because of complex ethical and economic aspects, it is usually hard to find all the necessary resources when searching for drugs for new orphan diseases. In this context, computational methods, based either on receptors or ligands, share the capability to improve the success rate when searching and selecting potential candidates for further experimentation and, consequently, reduce the number of resources and time taken when delivering a new drug to the market. In the present work, a computational strategy based on Molecular Topology, a mathematical paradigm capable of relating the chemical structure of a molecule to a specific biological or pharmacological property by means of numbers, is presented. The result was the creation of a reliable and accessible tool to help during the early in silico stages in the identification and repositioning of potential hits for ALS treatment, which can also apply to other orphan diseases. Considering that further computational and experimental results will be required for the final identification of viable hits, three linear discriminant equations combined with molecular docking simulations on specific proteins involved in ALS are reported, along with virtual screening of the Drugbank database as a practical example. In this particular case, as reported, a clinical trial has been already started for one of the drugs proposed in the present study.