The discovery of novel biomarkers has emerged as a critical need for therapeutic development in amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (ALS). For some subsets of ALS, such as the genetic superoxide dismutase 1 (SOD1) form, exciting new treatment strategies, such as antisense oligonucleotide–mediated (ASO-mediated) SOD1 silencing, are being tested in clinical trials, so the identification of pharmacodynamic biomarkers for therapeutic monitoring is essential. We identify increased levels of a 7–amino acid endogenous peptide of SOD1 in cerebrospinal fluid (CSF) of human SOD1 mutation carriers but not in other neurological cases or nondiseased controls. Levels of peptide elevation vary based on the specific SOD1 mutation (ranging from 1.1-fold greater than control in D90A to nearly 30-fold greater in V148G) and correlate with previously published measurements of SOD1 stability. Using a mass spectrometry–based method (liquid chromatography–mass spectrometry), we quantified peptides in both extracellular samples (CSF) and intracellular samples (spinal cord from rat) to demonstrate that the peptide distinguishes mutation-specific differences in intracellular SOD1 degradation. Furthermore, 80% and 63% reductions of the peptide were measured in SOD1G93A and SOD1H46R rat CSF samples, respectively, following treatment with ASO, with an improved correlation to mRNA levels in spinal cords compared with the ELISA measuring intact SOD1 protein. These data demonstrate the potential of this peptide as a pharmacodynamic biomarker.
Ilya Gertsman, Joanne Wuu, Melissa McAlonis-Downes, Majid Ghassemian, Karen Ling, Frank Rigo, Frank Bennett, Michael Benatar, Timothy M. Miller, Sandrine Da Cruz