Woo MS, Ufer F, Rothammer N, Di Liberto G, Binkle L, Haferkamp U, Sonner JK, Engler JB, Nornig S, Bauer S, Wagner I,Egervari K, Raber J, Duvoisin RM, Pless O, Merkler D, Friese MA.

Multiple sclerosis (MS) is a chronic inflammatory disease of the central nervous system with continuous neuronal loss. Treatment of clinical progression remains challenging due to lack of insights into inflammation-induced neurodegenerative pathways. Here, we show that an imbalance in the neuronal receptor interactome is driving glutamate excitotoxicity in neurons of MS patients and identify the MS risk-associated metabotropic glutamate receptor 8 (GRM8) as a decisive modulator. Mechanistically, GRM8 activation counteracted neuronal cAMP accumulation, thereby directly desensitizing the inositol 1,4,5-trisphosphate receptor (IP3R). This profoundly limited glutamate-induced calcium release from the endoplasmic reticulum and subsequent cell death. Notably, we found Grm8-deficient neurons to be more prone to glutamate excitotoxicity, whereas pharmacological activation of GRM8 augmented neuroprotection in mouse and human neurons as well as in a preclinical mouse model of MS. Thus, we demonstrate that GRM8 conveys neuronal resilience to CNS inflammation and is a promising neuroprotective target with broad therapeutic implications. 

J Exp Med. 2021 May 3;218(5).e20201290

Link to Pubmed