Gys1 antisense therapy rescues neuropathological bases of murine Lafora disease

Saija Ahonen, Silvia Nitschke, Tamar R. Grossman, Holly Kordasiewicz, Peixiang Wang, Xiaochu Zhao, Dikran R. Guisso, Sahba Kasiri, Felix Nitschke, Berge A. Minassian

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

20 Scopus citations


Lafora disease is a fatal progressive myoclonus epilepsy. At root, it is due to constant acquisition of branches that are too long in a subgroup of glycogen molecules, leading them to precipitate and accumulate into Lafora bodies, which drive a neuroinflammatory response and neurodegeneration. As a potential therapy, we aimed to downregulate glycogen synthase, the enzyme responsible for glycogen branch elongation, in mouse models of the disease. We synthesized an antisense oligonucleotide (Gys1-ASO) that targets the mRNA of the brain-expressed glycogen synthase 1 gene (Gys1). We administered Gys1-ASO by intracerebroventricular injection and analysed the pathological hallmarks of Lafora disease, namely glycogen accumulation, Lafora body formation, and neuroinflammation. Gys1-ASO prevented Lafora body formation in young mice that had not yet formed them. In older mice that already exhibited Lafora bodies, Gys1-ASO inhibited further accumulation, markedly preventing large Lafora bodies characteristic of advanced disease. Inhibition of Lafora body formation was associated with prevention of astrogliosis and strong trends towards correction of dysregulated expression of disease immune and neuroinflammatory markers. Lafora disease manifests gradually in previously healthy teenagers. Our work provides proof of principle that an antisense oligonucleotide targeting the GYS1 mRNA could prevent, and halt progression of, this catastrophic epilepsy.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2985-2993
Number of pages9
Issue number10
StatePublished - Oct 1 2021


  • Lafora disease
  • antisense oligonucleotides
  • glycogen synthase
  • neuroinflammation
  • therapy

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Clinical Neurology


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