OUP user menu

Ambroxol improves lysosomal biochemistry in glucocerebrosidase mutation-linked Parkinson disease cells

(CC)
Alisdair McNeill, Joana Magalhaes, Chengguo Shen, Kai-Yin Chau, Derralyn Hughes, Atul Mehta, Tom Foltynie, J. Mark Cooper, Andrey Y. Abramov, Matthew Gegg, Anthony H.V. Schapira
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1093/brain/awu020 1481-1495 First published online: 26 February 2014

Summary

Gaucher disease is caused by mutations in the glucocerebrosidase gene, which encodes the lysosomal hydrolase glucosylceramidase. Patients with Gaucher disease and heterozygous glucocerebrosidase mutation carriers are at increased risk of developing Parkinson’s disease. Indeed, glucocerebrosidase mutations are the most frequent risk factor for Parkinson’s disease in the general population. Therefore there is an urgent need to understand the mechanisms by which glucocerebrosidase mutations predispose to neurodegeneration to facilitate development of novel treatments. To study this we generated fibroblast lines from skin biopsies of five patients with Gaucher disease and six heterozygous glucocerebrosidase mutation carriers with and without Parkinson’s disease. Glucosylceramidase protein and enzyme activity levels were assayed. Oxidative stress was assayed by single cell imaging of dihydroethidium. Glucosylceramidase enzyme activity was significantly reduced in fibroblasts from patients with Gaucher disease (median 5% of controls, P = 0.0001) and heterozygous mutation carriers with (median 59% of controls, P = 0.001) and without (56% of controls, P = 0.001) Parkinson’s disease compared with controls. Glucosylceramidase protein levels, assessed by western blot, were significantly reduced in fibroblasts from Gaucher disease (median glucosylceramidase levels 42% of control, P < 0.001) and heterozygous mutation carriers with (median 59% of control, P < 0.001) and without (median 68% of control, P < 0.001) Parkinson’s disease. Single cell imaging of dihydroethidium demonstrated increased production of cytosolic reactive oxygen species in fibroblasts from patients with Gaucher disease (dihydroethidium oxidation rate increased by a median of 62% compared to controls, P < 0.001) and heterozygous mutation carriers with (dihydroethidium oxidation rate increased by a median of 68% compared with controls, P < 0.001) and without (dihydroethidium oxidation rate increased by a median of 70% compared with controls, P < 0.001) Parkinson’s disease. We hypothesized that treatment with the molecular chaperone ambroxol hydrochloride would improve these biochemical abnormalities. Treatment with ambroxol hydrochloride increased glucosylceramidase activity in fibroblasts from healthy controls, Gaucher disease and heterozygous glucocerebrosidase mutation carriers with and without Parkinson’s disease. This was associated with a significant reduction in dihydroethidium oxidation rate of ∼50% (P < 0.05) in fibroblasts from controls, Gaucher disease and heterozygous mutation carriers with and without Parkinson’s disease. In conclusion, glucocerebrosidase mutations are associated with reductions in glucosylceramidase activity and evidence of oxidative stress. Ambroxol treatment significantly increases glucosylceramidase activity and reduces markers of oxidative stress in cells bearing glucocerebrosidase mutations. We propose that ambroxol hydrochloride should be further investigated as a potential treatment for Parkinson’s disease.

  • Parkinson’s disease
  • ambroxol
  • lysosome
  • Gaucher disease
  • glucocerebrosidase
  • Abbreviation
    CLEAR
    coordinated lysosomal expression and regulation
  • This is an Open Access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/), which permits unrestricted reuse, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.

    View Full Text