BB14, a Nerve Growth Factor (NGF)-like peptide shown to be effective in reducing reactive astrogliosis and restoring synaptic homeostasis in a rat model of peripheral nerve injury

Giovanni Cirillo, Anna Maria Colangelo, Maria Rosaria Bianco, Carlo Cavaliere, Laura Zaccaro, Paolo Sarmientos, Lilia Alberghina, Michele Papa

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

Abstract

Peptidomimetics hold a great promise as therapeutic agents for neurodegenerative disorders. We previously described a Nerve Growth Factor (NGF)-like peptide, now named BB14, which was found to act as a strong TrkA agonist and to be effective in the sciatic nerve injury model of neuropathic pain. In this report we present the effects of BB14 in reducing reactive astrocytosis and reverting neuroplastic changes of the glutamate/GABAergic circuitry in the lumbar spinal cord following spared nerve injury (SNI) of the sciatic nerve. Immunohistochemical analysis of spinal cord sections revealed that SNI was associated with increased microglial (Iba1) and astrocytic (GFAP) responses, indicative of reactive gliosis. These changes were paralleled by (i) decreased glial aminoacid transporters (GLT1 and GlyT1) and increased levels of (ii) neuronal glutamate transporter EAAC1, (iii) neuronal vesicular GABA transporter (vGAT) and (iv) the GABAergic neuron marker GAD65/67. A remarkable increase of the Glutamate/GABA ratio and the reduction of glutathione (GSH) levels were also indicative of modifications of glial function in neuroprotection. All these molecular changes were found to be linked to an alteration of endogenous NGF metabolism, as demonstrated by decreased levels of mature NGF, increase of proNGF and increased activity of NGF-degrading methallo-proteinases (MMPs). Biochemical alterations and SNI-related neuropathic behavior, characterized by allodynia and hyperalgesia, were reversed by 7-days i.t. administration of the NGF-like peptide BB14, as well as by increasing endogenous NGF levels by i.t. infusion of GM6001, a MMPs inhibitor. All together, while confirming the correlation between reactive astrogliosis and perturbation of synaptic circuitry in the SNI model of peripheral nerve injury, these data strongly support the beneficial effect of BB14 in reducing reactive astrogliosis and restoring synaptic homeostasis under pathological conditions linked to alteration of NGF availability and signaling, thereby suggesting a potential role of BB14 as a therapeutic agent.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)223-232
Number of pages10
JournalBiotechnology Advances
Volume30
Issue number1
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - Jan 2012

Keywords

  • Nerve injury
  • Neuro-glial network
  • NGF-like peptide
  • Reactive astrocytosis
  • Synaptic homeostasis

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biotechnology

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