Aug 06, 2019
Leigh Syndrome Mouse Model Can Be Rescued by Interventions that Normalize Brain Hyperoxia, but Not HIF Activation.
Leigh syndrome is a devastating mitochondrial disease for which there are no proven therapies. We previously showed that breathing chronic, continuous hypoxia can prevent and even reverse neurological disease in the Ndufs4 knockout (KO) mouse model of complex I (CI) deficiency and Leigh syndrome. Here, we show that genetic activation of the hypoxia-inducible factor transcriptional program via any of four different strategies is insufficient to rescue disease. Rather, we observe an age-dependent decline in whole-body oxygen consumption. These mice exhibit brain tissue hyperoxia, which is normalized by hypoxic breathing. Alternative experimental strategies to reduce oxygen delivery, including breathing carbon monoxide (600 ppm in air) or severe anemia, can reverse neurological disease. Therefore, unused oxygen is the most likely culprit in the pathology of this disease. While pharmacologic activation of the hypoxia response is unlikely to alleviate disease in vivo, interventions that safely normalize brain tissue hyperoxia may hold therapeutic potential.