JOURNAL ARTICLE

Cardiac expression of a mini-dystrophin that normalizes skeletal muscle force only partially restores heart function in aged Mdx mice

Brian Bostick, Yongping Yue, Chun Long, Nate Marschalk, Deborah M Fine, Jing Chen, Dongsheng Duan
Molecular Therapy 2009, 17 (2): 253-61
19066599
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) affects both skeletal and cardiac muscle. It is currently unclear whether the strategies developed for skeletal muscle can ameliorate cardiomyopathy. Synthetic mini-/micro-dystrophin genes have yielded impressive skeletal muscle protection in animal models. The 6-kb DeltaH2-R19 minigene is particularly promising because it completely restores skeletal muscle force to wild-type levels. Here, we examined whether expressing this minigene in the heart, but not skeletal muscle, could normalize cardiac function in the mdx model of DMD cardiomyopathy. Transgenic mdx mice were generated to express the DeltaH2-R19 minigene under the control of the alpha-myosin heavy-chain promoter. Heart structure and function were examined in adult and very old mice. The DeltaH2-R19 minigene enhanced cardiomyocyte sarcolemmal strength and prevented myocardial fibrosis. It also restored the dobutamine response and enhanced treadmill performance. Surprisingly, heart-restricted DeltaH2-R19 minigene expression did not completely normalize electrocardiogram and hemodynamic abnormalities. Overall, systolic function and ejection fraction were restored to normal levels but stroke volume and cardiac output remained suboptimal. Our results demonstrate that the skeletal muscle-proven DeltaH2-R19 minigene can correct cardiac histopathology but cannot fully normalize heart function. Novel strategies must be developed to completely restore heart function in DMD.

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