Microdystrophin Gene Addition Significantly Improves Muscle Functionality and Diaphragm Muscle Histopathology in a Fibrotic Mouse Model of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

Viktorija Cernisova, Ngoc Lu-Nguyen, Jessica Trundle, Shan Herath, Alberto Malerba, Linda Popplewell

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a rare neuromuscular disease affecting 1:5000 newborn males. No cure is currently available, but gene addition therapy, based on the adeno-associated viral (AAV) vector-mediated delivery of microdystrophin transgenes, is currently being tested in clinical trials. The muscles of DMD boys present significant fibrotic and adipogenic tissue deposition at the time the treatment starts. The presence of fibrosis not only worsens the disease pathology, but also diminishes the efficacy of gene therapy treatments. To gain an understanding of the efficacy of AAV-based microdystrophin gene addition in a relevant, fibrotic animal model of DMD, we conducted a systemic study in juvenile D2.mdx mice using the single intravenous administration of an AAV8 system expressing a sequence-optimized murine microdystrophin, named MD1 (AAV8-MD1). We mainly focused our study on the diaphragm, a respiratory muscle that is crucial for DMD pathology and that has never been analyzed after treatment with AAV-microdystrophin in this mouse model. We provide strong evidence here that the delivery of AAV8-MD1 provides significant improvement in body-wide muscle function. This is associated with the protection of the hindlimb muscle from contraction-induced damage and the prevention of fibrosis deposition in the diaphragm muscle. Our work corroborates the observation that the administration of gene therapy in DMD is beneficial in preventing muscle fibrosis.

Original languageEnglish
Article number8174
JournalInternational journal of molecular sciences
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 3 May 2023


  • Male
  • Animals
  • Mice
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne/genetics
  • Dystrophin/genetics
  • Diaphragm/pathology
  • Mice, Inbred mdx
  • Fibrosis
  • Muscle, Skeletal/pathology

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