Hepatocyte growth factor therapy for amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

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1 Citation (Scopus)


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is an adult-onset neurodegenerative disorder characterized by the death of upper and lower motor neurons. Approximately 20% of familial ALS cases are caused by mutations in the superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) gene. We generated rats that express a human SOD1 transgene with two different ALS-associated mutations and found that these rats develop remarkable motor neuron degeneration and paralysis. This rat model, because of the larger size of the animals as compared to ALS-affected mice, will facilitate studies involving manipulation of the cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) (e.g., implantation of intrathecal catheters for chronic therapeutic studies; CSF sampling) or spinal cord (e.g., direct administration of viral- and cell-mediated therapies). The hepatocyte growth factor (HGF) is one of the most potent survival-promoting factors for motor neurons. To examine its protective effect on motor neurons and its therapeutic potential, we administered human recombinant HGF (hrHGF) to the transgenic rats, by continuous intrathecal delivery, for 4 weeks from the onset of paralysis. Intrathecal administration of hrHGF attenuated motor neuron degeneration and prolonged the duration of the disease 62.7% compared with the contrast group. Our results indicated the therapeutic efficacy of continuous intrathecal administration of hrHGF in ALS rats. To explore the potential use of this treatment strategy in humans, we induced a contusive cervical spinal cord injury in the common marmoset, a primate, and then administered hrHGF intrathecally. The intrathecal administration of hrHGF promoted functional recovery. These projects have been supported by the "Super Special Consortium for Supporting the Development of Cutting-edge Medical Care" (tokku), a special program organized by the Cabinet Office of the Japanese government (research representative: Hideyuki Okano, M. D., Ph.D., Professor at Keio University).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)245-254
Number of pages10
JournalBrain and Nerve
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 2012 Mar 1


  • Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis
  • Hepatocyte growth factor
  • Intrathecal administration
  • Marmoset
  • Superoxide dismutase

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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