Transforming growth factor-β1 (TGF-β1) produced by astrocytes is an important component of the deadly signaling cascades that accelerate motor neuron death in ALS (see April 2015 news story). Now is has also been implicated as a factor contributing to aging and reduced regenerative potential of stem cells in the brain and skeletal muscle. In the May 6 Oncotarget, researchers from the University of California, Berkeley led by Irina Conboy and David Schaffer, report that systemic administration of a TGF-β1 signaling inhibitor, currently in clinical development as an anticancer drug, simultaneously rejuvenates hippocampal neurogenesis and skeletal myogenesis. In addition, the inhibitor reduces tissue inflammation in the brain and muscle, based on normalized expression of inflammatory markers such as β2-microglobulin. These findings suggest that this inhibitor may merit further exploration as a candidate therapy for ALS with potential for beneficial effects on motor neuron survival as well as in supporting muscle cell regeneration.
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Yousef H, Conboy MJ, Morgenthaler A, Schlesinger C, Bugaj L, Paliwal P, Greer C, Conboy IM, Schaffer D. Systemic attenuation of the TGF-β pathway by a single drug simultaneously rejuvenates hippocampal neurogenesis and myogenesis in the same old mammal. Oncotarget. 2015 May 6. [Pubmed].