• Riluzole elevates GLT-1 activity and levels in striatal astrocytes

      Carbone, M.; Duty, S.; Rattray, Marcus (2012)
      Drugs which upregulate astrocyte glutamate transport may be useful neuroprotective compounds by preventing excitotoxicity. We set up a new system to identify potential neuroprotective drugs which act through GLT-1. Primary mouse striatal astrocytes grown in the presence of the growth-factor supplement G5 express high levels of the functional glutamate transporter, GLT-1 (also known as EAAT2) as assessed by Western blotting and (3)H-glutamate uptake assay, and levels decline following growth factor withdrawal. The GLT-1 transcriptional enhancer dexamethasone (0.1 or 1 muM) was able to prevent loss of GLT-1 levels and activity following growth factor withdrawal. In contrast, ceftriaxone, a compound previously reported to enhance GLT-1 expression, failed to regulate GLT-1 in this system. The neuroprotective compound riluzole (100 muM) upregulated GLT-1 levels and activity, through a mechanism that was not dependent on blockade of voltage-sensitive ion channels, since zonasimide (1 mM) did not regulate GLT-1. Finally, CDP-choline (10 muM-1 mM), a compound which promotes association of GLT-1/EAAT2 with lipid rafts was unable to prevent GLT-1 loss under these conditions. This observation extends the known pharmacological actions of riluzole, and suggests that this compound may exert its neuroprotective effects through an astrocyte-dependent mechanism.
    • Riluzole neuroprotection in a parkinson’s disease model involves suppression of reactive astrocytosis but not GLT-1 regulation.

      Carbone, M.; Duty, S.; Rattray, Marcus (2012-04)
      Background: Riluzole is a neuroprotective drug used in the treatment of motor neurone disease. Recent evidence suggests that riluzole can up-regulate the expression and activity of the astrocyte glutamate transporter, GLT-1. Given that regulation of glutamate transport is predicted to be neuroprotective in Parkinson’s disease, we tested the effect of riluzole in parkinsonian rats which had received a unilateral 6-hydroxydopamine injection into the median forebrain bundle. Results: Rats were treated with intraperitoneal riluzole (4 mg/kg or 8 mg/kg), 1 hour before the lesion then once daily for seven days. Riluzole produced a modest but significant attenuation of dopamine neurone degeneration, assessed by suppression of amphetamine-induced rotations, preservation of tyrosine hydroxylase positive neuronal cell bodies in the substantia nigra pars compacta and attenuation of striatal tyrosine hydroxylase protein loss. Seven days after 6-hydroxydopamine lesion, reactive astrocytosis was observed in the striatum, as determined by increases in expression of glial fibrillary acidic protein, however the glutamate transporter, GLT-1, which is also expressed in astrocytes was not regulated by the lesion. Conclusions: The results confirm that riluzole is a neuroprotective agent in a rodent model of parkinson’s disease. Riluzole administration did not regulate GLT-1 levels but significantly reduced GFAP levels, in the lesioned striatum. Riluzole suppression of reactive astrocytosis is an intriguing finding which might contribute to the neuroprotective effects of this drug.