Journal of Inherited Metabolic Disease

, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 369–381 | Cite as

Dietary triheptanoin rescues oligodendrocyte loss, dysmyelination and motor function in the nur7 mouse model of Canavan disease

  • Jeremy S. Francis
  • Vladimir Markov
  • Paola Leone
Original Article


The inherited pediatric leukodystrophy Canavan disease is characterized by dysmyelination and severe spongiform degeneration, and is currently refractory to treatment. A definitive understanding of core disease mechanisms is lacking, but pathology is believed to result at least in part compromised fatty acid synthesis during myelination. Recent evidence generated in an animal model suggests that the breakdown of N-acetylaspartate metabolism in CD results in a heightened coupling of fatty acid synthesis to oligodendrocyte oxidative metabolism during the early stages of myelination, thereby causing acute oxidative stress. We present here the results of a dietary intervention designed to support oxidative integrity during developmental myelination in the nur7 mouse model of Canavan disease. Provision of the odd carbon triglyceride triheptanoin to neonatal nur7 mice reduced oxidative stress, promoted long-term oligodendrocyte survival, and increased myelin in the brain. Improvements in oligodendrocyte survival and myelination were associated with a highly significant reduction in spongiform degeneration and improved motor function in triheptanoin treated mice. Initiation of triheptanoin treatment in older animals resulted in markedly more modest effects on these same pathological indices, indicating a window of therapeutic intervention that corresponds with developmental myelination. These results support the targeting of oxidative integrity at early stages of Canavan disease, and provide a foundation for the clinical development of a non-invasive dietary triheptanoin treatment regimen.


Adenomatous Polyposis Coli Fatty Acid Synthesis Canavan Disease Myelin Lipid Spongiform Degeneration 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.



This work was supported by Jacob’s Cure (NY), Canavan Foundation (NY), and Canavan Research Illinois (Il). VM received the 2011 Farrel & Steve Starker Fellowship, sponsored by Jacob’s Cure.

Conflict of interest


Supplementary material

10545_2013_9663_Fig10_ESM.jpg (267 kb)
Suppl. Fig. 1

a) Distance traveled during open field activity at 8 weeks and 12 weeks. No significant differences between either wild type and nur7 controls, or nur7 triheptanoin treatment were observed. b) Ambulatory counts within the same open field activity session for the same animals, showing also no significant differences between any treatment or control groups. (JPEG 267 kb)


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Copyright information

© SSIEM and Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jeremy S. Francis
    • 1
  • Vladimir Markov
    • 1
  • Paola Leone
    • 1
  1. 1.Cell and Gene Therapy Center, Department of Cell BiologyRowan University School of Osteopathic MedicineStratfordUSA

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