Calcitriol increases frataxin levels and restores altered markers in cell models of Friedreich Ataxia

BioRxiv : the Preprint Server for Biology
Elena BrittiJoaquim Ros


Friedreich Ataxia (FA) is a neurodegenerative disease caused by the deficiency of frataxin, a mitochondrial protein. In primary cultures of dorsal root ganglia neurons, we showed that frataxin depletion resulted in decreased levels of the mitochondrial calcium exchanger NCLX, neurite degeneration and apoptotic cell death. Here we describe that frataxin-deficient dorsal root ganglia neurons display low levels of ferredoxin 1, a mitochondrial Fe/S cluster-containing protein that interacts with frataxin and, interestingly, is essential for the synthesis of calcitriol, the active form of vitamin D. We provide data that calcitriol supplementation, used at nanomolar concentrations, is able to reverse the molecular and cellular markers altered in DRG neurons. Calcitriol is able to recover both ferredoxin 1 and NCLX levels and restores mitochondrial membrane potential. Accordingly, apoptotic markers and neurite degeneration are reduced resulting in cell survival recovery with calcitriol supplementation. All these beneficial effects would be explained by the finding that calcitriol is able to increase the mature frataxin levels in both, frataxin-deficient DRG neurons and cardiomyocytes; remarkably, this increase also occurs in lymphobla...Continue Reading

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