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A mitochondrial uncoupler prodrug protects dopaminergic neurons and improves functional outcome in a mouse model of Parkinson’s disease


Dopaminergic neuronal cell loss in the substantia nigra is responsible for the motor symptoms that are the clinical hallmark of Parkinson’s disease (PD). As of yet there are no treatments that slow or prevent the degeneration of dopaminergic neurons in PD patients. Here we tested the hypothesis that dopaminergic neurons can be protected by treatment with the mitochondrial uncoupling agent 2,4-dinitrophenol (DNP) and the novel DNP prodrug MP201. We found that mice treated with low doses of DNP and MP201 were protected against motor dysfunction and dopamine neuron loss in the 6-hydroxydopamine PD model, with MP201 being more efficacious than DNP. Amelioration of motor deficits and dopamine neuron loss by MP201 treatment was associated with reductions in microglial and astrocyte activation and neuroinflammation. These preclinical findings suggest the potential application of mitochondrial uncoupling agents such as MP201 as disease-modifying therapies for PD.

About Mitochon Pharmaceuticals
Mitochon was founded in 2014 with the mission to develop treatments for insidious diseases through the modulation of mitochondrial physiology, with applications to neurodegeneration, neuromuscular, and developmental diseases. Mitochon’s lead programs, MP101 and MP201, specifically harnesses the power of the mitochondria to provide broad neural protection. These compounds elicit mild increases in energy expenditure that result in strengthening cellular survival—similar to the positive effects seen with fasting and exercise. These compounds also induce an important neurotrophin, Brain Derived Neurotrophic Factor (BDNF), involved in cognition and neural growth. Mitochon is supported by Ben Franklin Technology Partners Southeastern PA, an initiative of the Pennsylvania Department of Community and Economic Development funded by the Ben Franklin Technology Development Authority.