The molecular tweezer CLR01 reduces aggregated, pathologic, and seeding-competent α-synuclein in experimental multiple system atrophy.
Multiple system atrophy (MSA) is a fatal, adult-onset neurodegenerative disorder that has no cure and very limited treatment options. MSA is characterized by deposition of fibrillar α-synuclein (α-syn) in glial cytoplasmic inclusions in oligodendrocytes. Similar to other synucleinopathies, α-syn self-assembly is thought to be a key pathologic event and a prominent target for disease modification in MSA. Molecular tweezers are broad-spectrum nanochaperones that prevent formation of toxic protein assemblies and enhance their clearance. The current lead compound, CLR01, has been shown to inhibit α-syn aggregation but has not yet been tested in the context of MSA. To fill this gap, here, we conducted a proof-of-concept study to assess the efficacy of CLR01 in remodeling MSA-like α-syn pathology in the PLP-α-syn mouse model of MSA. Six-month-old mice received intracerebroventricular CLR01 (0.3 or 1 mg/kg per day) or vehicle for 32 days. Open-field test revealed a significant, dose-dependent amelioration of an anxiety-like phenotype. Subsequently, immunohistochemical and biochemical analyses showed dose-dependent reduction of pathological and seeding-competent forms of α-syn, which correlated with the behavioral phenotype. CLR01 treatment also promoted dopaminergic neuron survival in the substantia nigra. To our knowledge, this is the first demonstration of an agent that reduces formation of putative high-molecular-weight oligomers and seeding-competent α-syn in a mouse model of MSA, supporting the view that these species are key to the neurodegenerative process and its cell-to-cell progression in MSA. Our study suggests that CLR01 is an attractive therapeutic candidate for disease modification in MSA and related synucleinopathies, supporting further preclinical development.