Sandrine Da Cruz, Philippe A. Parone, Vanda S. Lopes, Concepción Lillo, Melissa McAlonis-Downes, Sandra K. Lee, Anne P. Vetto, Susanna Petrosyan, Martin Marsala, Anne N. Murphy, David S. Williams, Bruce M. Spiegelman, Don W. Cleveland
The transcriptional coactivator PGC-1α induces multiple effects on muscle, including increased mitochondrial mass and activity. Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a progressive, fatal, adult-onset neurodegenerative disorder characterized by selective loss of motor neurons and skeletal muscle degeneration. An early event is thought to be denervation-induced muscle atrophy accompanied by alterations in mitochondrial activity and morphology within muscle. We now report that elevation of PGC-1α levels in muscles of mice that develop fatal paralysis from an ALS-causing SOD1 mutant elevates PGC-1α-dependent pathways throughout disease course. Mitochondrial biogenesis and activity are maintained through end-stage disease, accompanied by retention of muscle function, delayed muscle atrophy, and significantly improved muscle endurance even at late disease stages. However, survival was not extended. Therefore, muscle is not a primary target of mutant SOD1-mediated toxicity, but drugs increasing PGC-1α activity in muscle represent an attractive therapy for maintaining muscle function during progression of ALS.