The role of reactive oxygen species in the hearts of dystrophin-deficient mdx mice

Iwan A Williams, David G Allen
American Journal of Physiology. Heart and Circulatory Physiology 2007, 293 (3): H1969-77
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is caused by deficiency of the cytoskeletal protein dystrophin. Oxidative stress is thought to contribute to the skeletal muscle damage in DMD; however, little is known about the role of oxidative damage in the pathogenesis of the heart failure that occurs in DMD patients. The dystrophin-deficient (mdx) mouse is an animal model of DMD that also lacks dystrophin. The current study investigates the role of the antioxidant N-acetylcysteine (NAC) on mdx cardiomyocyte function, Ca(2+) handling, and the cardiac inflammatory response. Treated mice received 1% NAC in their drinking water for 6 wk. NAC had no effect on wild-type (WT) mice. Immunohistochemistry experiments revealed that mdx mice had increased dihydroethidine (DHE) staining, an indicator of superoxide production; NAC-treatment reduced DHE staining in mdx hearts. NAC treatment attenuated abnormalities in mdx cardiomyocyte Ca(2+) handling. Mdx cardiomyocytes had decreased fractional shortening and decreased Ca(2+) sensitivity; NAC treatment returned mdx fractional shortening to WT values but did not affect the Ca(2+) sensitivity. Immunohistochemistry experiments revealed that mdx hearts had increased levels of collagen type III and the macrophage-specific protein, CD68; NAC-treatment returned collagen type III and CD68 expression close to WT values. Finally, mdx hearts had increased NADPH oxidase activity, suggesting it could be a possible source of increased reactive oxygen species in mdx mice. This study is the first to demonstrate that oxidative damage may be involved in the pathogenesis of the heart failure that occurs in mdx mice. Therapies designed to reduce oxidative damage might be beneficial to DMD patients with heart failure.

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