Androgen receptor antagonism accelerates disease onset in the SOD1G93A mouse model of amyotrophic lateral sclerosis

Article date: July 2019

By: Victoria M. McLeod, Chew L. Lau, Mathew D.F. Chiam, Thusitha W. Rupasinghe, Ute Roessner, Elvan Djouma, Wah C. Boon, Bradley J. Turner in Volume 176, Issue 13, pages 2111-2130

Background and Purpose

Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease typically more common in males, implicating androgens in progression of both patients and mouse models. Androgen effects are mediated by androgen receptor which is highly expressed in spinal motor neurons and skeletal muscles. To clarify the role of androgen receptors in ALS, we therefore examined the effect of androgen receptor antagonism in the SOD1G93A mouse model.

Experimental Approach

The androgen receptor antagonist, flutamide, was administered to presymptomatic SOD1G93A mice as a slow‐release subcutaneous implant (5 mg·day−1). Testosterone, flutamide, and metabolite levels were measured in blood and spinal cord tissue by LC–MS–MS. Effects on disease onset and progression were assessed using motor function tests, survival, muscle, and neuropathological analyses.

Key Results

Flutamide was metabolised to 2‐hydroxyflutamide achieving steady‐state plasma levels across the study duration and reached the spinal cord at pharmacologically active concentrations. Flutamide treatment accelerated disease onset and locomotor dysfunction in male SOD1G93A mice, but not female mice, without affecting survival. Analysis of hindlimb muscles revealed exacerbation of myofibre atrophy in male SOD1G93A mice treated with flutamide, although motor neuron pathology was not affected.

Conclusion and Implications

The androgen receptor antagonist accelerated disease onset in male SOD1G93A mice, leading to exacerbated muscle pathology, consistent with a role of androgens in modulating disease severity, sexual dimorphism, and peripheral pathology in ALS. These results also demonstrate a key contribution of skeletal muscle pathology to disease onset, but not outcome, in this mouse model of ALS.

DOI: 10.1111/bph.14657

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