Histone deacetylase 4 protects from denervation and skeletal muscle atrophy in a murine model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Eva Pigna, Elena Simonazzi, Krizia Sanna, Krzysztof Marian Bernadzki, Tomek Proszynski, Constantin Heil, Daniela Palacios, Sergio Adamo, Viviana Moresi

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Background: Histone deacetylase 4 (HDAC4) has been proposed as a target for Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS) because it mediates nerve-skeletal muscle interaction and since its expression in skeletal muscle correlates with the severity of the disease. However, our recent studies on the skeletal muscle response upon long-term denervation highlighted the importance of HDAC4 in maintaining muscle integrity. Methods: To fully identify the yet uncharacterized HDAC4 functions in ALS, we genetically deleted HDAC4 in skeletal muscles of a mouse model of ALS. Body weight, skeletal muscle, innervation and spinal cord were analyzed over time by morphological and molecular analyses. Transcriptome analysis was also performed to delineate the signaling modulated by HDAC4 in skeletal muscle of a mouse model of ALS. Findings: HDAC4 deletion in skeletal muscle caused earlier ALS onset, characterized by body weight loss, muscle denervation and atrophy, and compromised muscle performance, although the main catabolic pathways were not activated. Transcriptome analysis identified the gene networks modulated by HDAC4 in ALS, revealing UCP1 as a top regulator that may be implicated in worsening ALS features. Interpretation: HDAC4 plays an important role in preserving innervations and skeletal muscle in ALS, likely by modulating the UCP1 gene network. Our study highlights a possible risk in considering HDAC inhibitors for the treatment of ALS. Fund: This work was supported by FIRB grant (RBFR12BUMH) from Ministry of Education, Universities and Research, by Fondazione Veronesi, by Sapienza research project 2017 (RM11715C78539BD8) and Polish National Science Center grant (UMO-2016/21/B/NZ3/03638).

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)717-732
Number of pages16
Publication statusPublished - Feb 1 2019


  • ALS
  • Epigenetics
  • HDAC inhibitors
  • HDAC4
  • SOD1G93A mice

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Biochemistry, Genetics and Molecular Biology(all)


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