The influence of metallothionein treatment and treadmill running exercise on disease onset and survival in SOD1G93A amyotrophic lateral sclerosis mice

Katherine E. A. Lewis, William Bennett, Christopher L. Blizzard, Adrian K. West, Roger S. Chung, Meng Inn Chuah

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS) is a fatal neurodegenerative disease, characterised by the degeneration of motor neurons innervating skeletal muscle. The mechanisms underlying neurodegeneration in ALS are not yet fully elucidated, and with current therapeutics only able to extend lifespan by a matter of months there is a clear need for novel therapies to increase lifespan and patient quality of life. Here, we evaluated whether moderate-intensity treadmill exercise and/or treatment with metallothionein-2 (MT2), a neuroprotective protein, could improve survival, behavioural, or neuropathological outcomes in SOD1G93A familial ALS mice. Six-week-old female SOD1G93A mice were allocated to one of four treatment groups: MT2 injection, i.m.; moderate treadmill exercise; neither MT2 nor exercise; or both MT2 and exercise. MT2-treated mice survived around 3% longer than vehicle-treated mice, with this mild effect reaching statistical significance in Cox proportional hazards analysis once adjusted for potential confounders. Mixed model body weight trajectories over time indicated that MT2-treated mice, with or without exercise, reached maximum body weight at a later age, suggesting a delay in disease onset of around 4% compared to saline-treated mice. Exercise alone did not significantly increase survival or delay disease onset, and neither exercise nor MT2 substantially ameliorated gait abnormalities or muscle strength loss. We conclude that neither exercise nor MT2 treatment was detrimental in female SOD1G93A mice, and further study could determine whether the mild effect of peripheral MT2 administration on disease onset and survival could be improved via direct administration of MT2 to the central nervous system.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3223-3241
Number of pages19
JournalEuropean Journal of Neuroscience
Issue number4
Early online date18 Jan 2020
Publication statusPublished - Aug 2020


  • antioxidant
  • metallothionein-2
  • mixed modelling
  • neurodegeneration
  • treadmill exercise

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