Micro-utrophin Improves Cardiac and Skeletal Muscle Function of Severely Affected D2/mdx Mice.
Kennedy TL., Guiraud S., Edwards B., Squire S., Moir L., Babbs A., Odom G., Golebiowski D., Schneider J., Chamberlain JS., Davies KE.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is an X-linked muscle-wasting disease caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene. DMD boys are wheelchair-bound around 12 years and generally survive into their twenties. There is currently no effective treatment except palliative care, although personalized treatments such as exon skipping, stop codon read-through, and viral-based gene therapies are making progress. Patients present with skeletal muscle pathology, but most also show cardiomyopathy by the age of 10. A systemic therapeutic approach is needed that treats the heart and skeletal muscle defects in all patients. The dystrophin-related protein utrophin has been shown to compensate for the lack of dystrophin in the mildly affected BL10/mdx mouse. The purpose of this investigation was to demonstrate that AAV9-mediated micro-utrophin transgene delivery can not only functionally replace dystrophin in the heart, but also attenuate the skeletal muscle phenotype in severely affected D2/mdx mice. The data presented here show that utrophin can indeed alleviate the pathology in skeletal and cardiac muscle in D2/mdx mice. These results endorse the view that utrophin modulation has the potential to increase the quality life of all DMD patients whatever their mutation.