Globoid cell leukodystrophy (Krabbe's disease) is an autosomal recessive disease that affects the lysosomal enzyme galactosylceramidase. Galactosylceramidase removes galactose from galactosylceramide and psychosine, which are derived from sphingosine. In the present study, L-cycloserine (an inhibitor of 3-ketodyhydrosphingosine synthase) was administered to the twitcher mouse, an authentic model of globoid cell leukodystrophy. Twitcher mice treated with L-cycloserine had a significantly longer life span and a delayed onset of weight loss than vehicle-injected twitcher mice. Pathological features such as macrophage infiltration and astrocyte gliosis also were less in treated twitcher mice. These results indicate that substrate reduction therapy may have therapeutic value for individuals with residual enzymatic activity, e.g., individuals with late onset disease or individuals with partial enzyme replacement via bone marrow transplantation. In these cases, a reduction in galactosylceramide and psychosine synthesis would enable residual enzymatic activity to keep up with the accumulation of these substrates that would otherwise lead to pathology.
Copyright 2000 Wiley-Liss, Inc.