Edaravone (Radicava®) could promote lesion repair in patients with neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder (NMOSD) by improving the maturation of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells, according to a new study.

These data showed that edaravone improved motor function in a systemic mouse model of NMOSD. It also increased remyelination in organotypic slice cultures as well as the mice, even when it was administered following demyelination induced by NMO-IgG.

The results were published in the journal Glia


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NMOSD is a rare chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system. It is characterized by secondary myelin loss leading to repeated episodes of severe optic neuritis and myelitis.

Read more about the pathophysiology of NMOSD

Edaravone is a free-radical scavenger that is approved by the US Food and Drug Administration to treat stroke and amyotrophic lateral sclerosis. Its antioxidant and anti-apoptotic properties may mediate nootropic and neuroprotective effects. 

Oligodendrocyte progenitor cells are the main source of myelinating oligodendrocytes. These cells are found in abundance around the demyelinated regions in patients with NMOSD. 

Based on this knowledge, the authors of the present study hypothesized that they could be a good target for the pharmacological treatment of NMOSD.

In order to test their hypothesis and identify potential therapeutic candidates that can increase remyelination, the team, led by Wei Qiu, of the Third Affiliated Hospital of Sun Yat-Sen University, in Guangzhou, China, screened candidate compounds using oligodendrocyte progenitor cells derived from mouse neural progenitor cells.

The researchers identified edaravone as being able to promote the differentiation of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells into mature oligodendrocytes.

Through mechanistic studies in mice treated with NMO-IgG and using biopsy samples from patients with NMOSD, the researchers found that edaravone promoted the maturation of oligodendrocyte progenitor cells and remyelination by activating mTORC1 signaling.

Reference

Luo W, Xu H, Xu L, et al. Remyelination in neuromyelitis optica spectrum disorder is promoted by edaravone through mTORC1 signaling activation. Glia. Published online September 12, 2022. doi: 10.1002/glia.24271