ACTH and PMX53 recover synaptic transcriptome alterations in a rat model of infantile spasms

Iacobas DA, Chachua T, Iacobas S, Benson MJ, Borges K, Veliskova J, Velisek L. 2018. Sci. Rep.


We profiled the gene expression in the hypothalamic arcuate nuclei (ARC) of 20 male and 20 female rats to determine the infantile spasms (IS) related transcriptomic alteration of neurotransmission and recovery following two treatments. Rats were prenatally exposed to betamethasone or saline followed by repeated postnatal subjection to NMDA-triggered IS. Rats with spasms were treated with ACTH, PMX53 or saline. Since ACTH, the first line treatment for IS, has inconsistent efficacy and potential harsh side effects, PMX53, a potent complement C5ar1 antagonist, was suggested as a therapeutic alternative given its effects in other epilepsy models. Novel measures that consider all genes and are not affected by arbitrary cut-offs were used, in addition to standard statistical tests, to quantify regulation and recovery of glutamatergic, GABAergic, cholinergic, dopaminergic and serotonergic pathways. Although IS alters expression of ~30% of the ARC genes in both sexes the transcriptomic effects are 3× more severe in males than their female counterparts, as indicated by the Weighted Pathway Regulation measure. Both treatments significantly restored the ARC neurotransmission transcriptome to the non-IS condition with PMX53 performing slightly better, as measured by the Pathway Restoration Efficiency, suggesting these treatments may reduce autistic traits often associated with IS.