Neurotrophic effects of GM1 ganglioside, NGF, and FGF2 on canine dorsal root ganglia neurons in vitro
Dogs share many chronic morbidities with humans and thus represent a powerful model for translational research. In comparison to rodents, the canine ganglioside metabolism more closely resembles the human one. Gangliosides are components of the cell plasma membrane playing a role in neuronal development, intercellular communication and cellular differentiation. The present in vitro study aimed to characterize structural and functional changes induced by GM1 ganglioside (GM1) in canine dorsal root ganglia (DRG) neurons and interactions of GM1 with nerve growth factor (NGF) and fibroblast growth factor (FGF2) using immunofluorescence for several cellular proteins including neurofilaments, synaptophysin, and cleaved caspase 3, transmission electron microscopy, and electrophysiology. GM1 supplementation resulted in increased neurite outgrowth and neuronal survival. This was also observed in DRG neurons challenged with hypoxia mimicking neurodegenerative conditions due to disruptions of energy homeostasis. Immunofluorescence indicated an impact of GM1 on neurofilament phosphorylation, axonal transport, and synaptogenesis. An increased number of multivesicular bodies in GM1 treated neurons suggested metabolic changes. Electrophysiological changes induced by GM1 indicated an increased neuronal excitability. Summarized, GM1 has neurotrophic and neuroprotective effects on canine DRG neurons and induces functional changes. However, further studies are needed to clarify the therapeutic value of gangliosides in neurodegenerative diseases.