Beneficial Effects of the Direct AMP-Kinase Activator PXL770 in In Vitro and In Vivo Models of X-Linked Adrenoleukodystrophy

Document Type


Publication Date


Publication Title

The Journal of pharmacology and experimental therapeutics


Background: X-linked adrenoleukodystrophy (ALD) is a severe orphan disease caused by mutations in the peroxisomal ABCD1 transporter gene, leading to toxic accumulation of Very Long-Chain Fatty Acids (VLCFA - in particular C26:0) resulting in inflammation, mitochondrial dysfunction and demyelination. AMP-activated protein kinase (AMPK) is downregulated in ALD, and its activation is implicated as a therapeutic target. PXL770 is the first direct allosteric AMPK activator with established clinical efficacy and tolerability.

Methods: We investigated its effects in ALD patient-derived fibroblasts/lymphocytes and Abcd1 KO mouse glial cells. Readouts included VLCFA levels, mitochondrial function and mRNA levels of proinflammatory genes and compensatory transporters (ABCD2-3). Following PXL770 treatment in Abcd1 KO mice, we assessed VLCFA levels in tissues, sciatic nerve axonal morphology by electronic microscopy and locomotor function by open-field/balance-beam tests.

Results: In patients' cells and Abcd1 KO glial cells, PXL770 substantially decreased C26:0 levels (by ~90%), improved mitochondrial respiration, reduced expression of multiple inflammatory genes and induced expression of ABCD2-3 In Abcd1 KO mice, PXL770 treatment normalized VLCFA in plasma and significantly reduced elevated levels in brain (-25%) and spinal cord (-32%) vs. untreated (p<0.001). Abnormal sciatic nerve axonal morphology was also improved along with amelioration of locomotor function.

Conclusion: Direct AMPK activation exerts beneficial effects on several hallmarks of pathology in multiple ALD models in vitro and in vivo, supporting clinical development of PXL770 for this disease. Further studies would be needed to overcome limitations including small sample size for some parameters, lack of additional in vivo biomarkers and incomplete pharmacokinetic characterization. Significance Statement Adrenoleukodystrophy is a rare and debilitating condition with no approved therapies, caused by accumulation of very long-chain fatty acids. AMPK is downregulated in the disease and has been implicated as a potential therapeutic target. PXL770 is a novel clinical stage direct AMPK activator. In these studies, we used PXL770 to achieve preclinical validation of direct AMPK activation for this disease - based on correction of key biochemical and functional readouts in vitro and in vivo, thus supporting clinical development.

Medical Subject Headings

AMP-Activated Protein Kinases; ATP Binding Cassette Transporter, Subfamily D, Member 1; ATP-Binding Cassette Transporters; Adenosine Monophosphate; Adenylate Kinase; Adrenoleukodystrophy; Animals; Fatty Acids; Mice; Pyridones; Tetrahydronaphthalenes

PubMed ID



ePub ahead of print





First Page


Last Page