Fingolimod rescues demyelination in a mouse model of Krabbe’s disease

Sibylle Béchet, Sinead A. O’Sullivan, Justin Yssel, Steven G. Fagan, Kumlesh K. Dev*

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleResearchpeer-review

19 Citations (Scopus)


Krabbe’s disease is an infantile neurodegenerative disease, which is affected by mutations in the lysosomal enzyme galactocerebrosidase, leading to the accumulation of its metabolite psychosine. We have shown previously that the S1P receptor agonist fingolimod (FTY720) attenuates psychosine-induced glial cell death and demyelination both in vitro and ex vivo models. These data, together with a lack of therapies for Krabbe’s disease, prompted the current preclinical study examining the effects of fingolimod in twitcher mice, a murine model of Krabbe’s disease. Twitcher mice, both male and female, carrying a natural mutation in the galc gene were given fingolimod via drinking water (1 mg/kg/d). The direct impact of fingolimod administration was assessed via histochemical and biochemical analysis using markers of myelin, astrocytes, microglia, neurons, globoid cells, and immune cells. The effects of fingolimod on twitching behavior and life span were also demonstrated. Our results show that treatment of twitcher mice with fingolimod significantly rescued myelin levels compared with vehicle-treated animals and also regulated astrocyte and microglial reactivity. Furthermore, nonphosphorylated neurofilament levels were decreased, indicating neuroprotective and neurorestorative processes. These protective effects of fingolimod on twitcher mice brain pathology was reflected by an increased life span of fingolimod-treated twitcher mice. These in vivo findings corroborate initial in vitro studies and highlight the potential use of S1P receptors as drug targets for treatment of Krabbe’s disease.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)3104-3118
Number of pages15
JournalJournal of Neuroscience
Issue number15
Publication statusPublished - 8 Apr 2020
Externally publishedYes


  • FTY720
  • Fingolimod
  • Globoid cell leukodystrophy
  • Krabbe’s disease
  • Myelination
  • Neurodevelopmental disease


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