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1.  Anti-Dystrophin T Cell Responses in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy: Prevalence and a Glucocorticoid Treatment Effect 
Human Gene Therapy  2013;24(9):797-806.
Abstract
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) typically occurs as a result of truncating mutations in the DMD gene that result in a lack of expression of the dystrophin protein in muscle fibers. Various therapies under development are directed toward restoring dystrophin expression at the subsarcolemmal membrane, including gene transfer. In a trial of intramuscular adeno-associated virus (AAV)-mediated delivery of a therapeutic minidystrophin construct, we identified in two of six subjects the presence of a population of T cells that had been primed to recognize dystrophin epitopes before transgene delivery. As the presence of preexisting T cell immunity may have a significant effect on the success of therapeutic approaches for restoring dystrophin, we sought to determine the prevalence of such immunity within a DMD cohort from our Muscular Dystrophy Association clinic. Dystrophin-specific T cell immunity was evaluated in subjects with DMD who were either receiving the glucocorticoid steroid prednisone (n=24) or deflazacort (n=29), or who were not receiving steroids (n=17), as well as from normal age-matched control subjects (n=21). We demonstrate that increasing age correlates with an increased risk for the presence of anti-dystrophin T cell immunity, and that treatment with either corticosteroid decreases risk compared with no treatment, suggesting that steroid therapy in part may derive some of its benefit through modulation of T cell responses. The frequency of dystrophin-specific T cells detected by enzyme-linked immunospot assay was lower in subjects treated with deflazacort versus prednisone, despite similar overall corticosteroid exposure, suggesting that the effects of the two corticosteroids may not be identical in patients with DMD. T cells targeted epitopes upstream and downstream of the dystrophin gene mutation and involved the CD4+ helper and/or CD8+ cytotoxic subsets. Our data confirm the presence of preexisting circulating T cell immunity to dystrophin in a sizable proportion of patients with DMD, and emphasize the need to consider this in the design and interpretation of clinical gene therapy trials.
Flanigan and colleagues characterize the prevalence of preexisting dystrophin-specific T cells in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) patients. They identify CD4+ and CD8+ T cell populations targeting epitopes upstream and downstream of dystrophin mutations in a significant fraction of patients. They further demonstrate a lower frequency of dystrophin-specific T cells in patients receiving glucocorticoid therapy. These findings suggest important considerations for future DMD gene therapy trials and offer new insight into the mechanism of glucocorticoid therapy for DMD.
doi:10.1089/hum.2013.092
PMCID: PMC3768239  PMID: 24010700
2.  Treatment of dysferlinopathy with deflazacort: a double-blind, placebo-controlled clinical trial 
Background
Dysferlinopathies are autosomal recessive disorders caused by mutations in the dysferlin (DYSF) gene encoding the dysferlin protein. DYSF mutations lead to a wide range of muscular phenotypes, with the most prominent being Miyoshi myopathy (MM) and limb girdle muscular dystrophy type 2B (LGMD2B).
Methods
We assessed the one-year-natural course of dysferlinopathy, and the safety and efficacy of deflazacort treatment in a double-blind, placebo-controlled cross-over trial. After one year of natural course without intervention, 25 patients with genetically defined dysferlinopathy were randomized to receive deflazacort and placebo for six months each (1 mg/kg/day in month one, 1 mg/kg every 2nd day during months two to six) in one of two treatment sequences.
Results
During one year of natural course, muscle strength declined about 2% as measured by CIDD (Clinical Investigation of Duchenne Dystrophy) score, and 76 Newton as measured by hand-held dynamometry. Deflazacort did not improve muscle strength. In contrast, there is a trend of worsening muscle strength under deflazacort treatment, which recovers after discontinuation of the study drug. During deflazacort treatment, patients showed a broad spectrum of steroid side effects.
Conclusion
Deflazacort is not an effective therapy for dysferlinopathies, and off-label use is not warranted. This is an important finding, since steroid treatment should not be administered in patients with dysferlinopathy, who may be often misdiagnosed as polymyositis.
Trial registration
This clinical trial was registered at http://www.ClincalTrials.gov, identifier: NCT00527228, and was always freely accessible to the public.
doi:10.1186/1750-1172-8-26
PMCID: PMC3617000  PMID: 23406536
Limb girdle muscular dystrophy (LGMD); Dysferlinopathy; Therapy; Deflazacort; Muscle strength; Steroids
3.  Changes in bone mass during low dose corticosteroid treatment in patients with polymyalgia rheumatica: a double blind, prospective comparison between prednisolone and deflazacort. 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1996;55(2):143-146.
OBJECTIVE: To compare the long term effects of low dosage prednisolone or deflazacort treatments on bone mass in patients with polymyalgia rheumatica. METHODS: Thirty patients with polymyalgia rheumatica were allocated on a random double blind basis to receive treatment with prednisolone or deflazacort. Bone mineral content (BMC) was measured in the lumbar spine and in the distal forearm before treatment and three, six, and 12 months after treatment. RESULTS: At three months the decrease in lumbar BMC and bone mineral density (BMD) was significantly greater in the deflazacort group than in the prednisolone group (p < 0.05), but at six and 12 months there was no difference between the two groups. In all patients after one year there was a significant loss of BMC: a 6.4% loss in lumbar BMC and a 1.8% loss in distal forearm BMC. Loss in lumbar BMC after six months was correlated to the cumulative dose of corticosteroid (r = 0.4; p < 0.05) and was significantly greater in the group of patients who had persisting symptoms of polymyalgia at six weeks, three months, or both, after treatment started (p = 0.05). CONCLUSION: This low dose study failed to reveal any calcium sparing properties of deflazacort compared with prednisolone. Possible explanations for this finding are discussed.
PMCID: PMC1010111  PMID: 8712867
4.  Worsening of Cardiomyopathy Using Deflazacort in an Animal Model Rescued by Gene Therapy 
PLoS ONE  2011;6(9):e24729.
We have previously demonstrated that gene therapy can rescue the phenotype and extend lifespan in the delta-sarcoglycan deficient cardiomyopathic hamster. In patients with similar genetic defects, steroids have been largely used to slow down disease progression. Aim of our study was to evaluate the combined effects of steroid treatment and gene therapy on cardiac function. We injected the human delta-sarcoglycan cDNA by adeno-associated virus (AAV) 2/8 by a single intraperitoneal injection into BIO14.6 Syrian hamsters at ten days of age to rescue the phenotype. We then treated the hamsters with deflazacort. Treatment was administered to half of the hamsters that had received the AAV and the other hamsters without AAV, as well as to normal hamsters. Both horizontal and vertical activities were greatly enhanced by deflazacort in all groups. As in previous experiments, the AAV treatment alone was able to preserve the ejection fraction (70±7% EF). However, the EF value declined (52±14%) with a combination of AAV and deflazacort. This was similar with all the other groups of affected animals. We confirm that gene therapy improves cardiac function in the BIO14.6 hamsters. Our results suggest that deflazacort is ineffective and may also have a negative impact on the cardiomyopathy rescue, possibly by boosting motor activity. This is unexpected and may have significance in terms of the lifestyle recommendations for patients.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0024729
PMCID: PMC3170375  PMID: 21931833
5.  Online Self-Report Data for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy Confirms Natural History and Can Be Used to Assess for Therapeutic Benefits  
PLoS Currents  2014;6:ecurrents.md.e1e8f2be7c949f9ffe81ec6fca1cce6a.
To assess the utility of online patient self-report outcomes in a rare disease, we attempted to observe the effects of corticosteroids in delaying age at fulltime wheelchair use in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) using data from 1,057 males from DuchenneConnect, an online registry. Data collected were compared to prior natural history data in regard to age at diagnosis, mutation spectrum, and age at loss of ambulation. Because registrants reported differences in steroid and other medication usage, as well as age and ambulation status, we could explore these data for correlations with age at loss of ambulation. Using multivariate analysis, current steroid usage was the most significant and largest independent predictor of improved wheelchair-free survival. Thus, these online self-report data were sufficient to retrospectively observe that current steroid use by patients with DMD is associated with a delay in loss of ambulation. Comparing commonly used steroid drugs, deflazacort prolonged ambulation longer than prednisone (median 14 years and 13 years, respectively). Further, use of Vitamin D and Coenzyme Q10, insurance status, and age at diagnosis after 4 years were also significant, but smaller, independent predictors of longer wheelchair-free survival. Nine other common supplements were also individually tested but had lower study power. This study demonstrates the utility of DuchenneConnect data to observe therapeutic differences, and highlights needs for improvement in quality and quantity of patient-report data, which may allow exploration of drug/therapeutic practice combinations impractical to study in clinical trial settings. Further, with the low barrier to participation, we anticipate substantial growth in the dataset in the coming years.
doi:10.1371/currents.md.e1e8f2be7c949f9ffe81ec6fca1cce6a
PMCID: PMC4207635  PMID: 25635234
6.  Functional Substitution by TAT-Utrophin in Dystrophin-Deficient Mice 
PLoS Medicine  2009;6(5):e1000083.
James Ervasti and colleagues show that injection of a truncated form of utrophin transduced all tissues examined, integrated with members of the dystrophin complex, and reduced serum levels of creatine kinase in a mouse model of muscular dystrophy.
Background
The loss of dystrophin compromises muscle cell membrane stability and causes Duchenne muscular dystrophy and/or various forms of cardiomyopathy. Increased expression of the dystrophin homolog utrophin by gene delivery or pharmacologic up-regulation has been demonstrated to restore membrane integrity and improve the phenotype in the dystrophin-deficient mdx mouse. However, the lack of a viable therapy in humans predicates the need to explore alternative methods to combat dystrophin deficiency. We investigated whether systemic administration of recombinant full-length utrophin (Utr) or ΔR4-21 “micro” utrophin (μUtr) protein modified with the cell-penetrating TAT protein transduction domain could attenuate the phenotype of mdx mice.
Methods and Findings
Recombinant TAT-Utr and TAT-μUtr proteins were expressed using the baculovirus system and purified using FLAG-affinity chromatography. Age-matched mdx mice received six twice-weekly intraperitoneal injections of either recombinant protein or PBS. Three days after the final injection, mice were analyzed for several phenotypic parameters of dystrophin deficiency. Injected TAT-μUtr transduced all tissues examined, integrated with members of the dystrophin complex, reduced serum levels of creatine kinase (11,290±920 U versus 5,950±1,120 U; PBS versus TAT), the prevalence of muscle degeneration/regeneration (54%±5% versus 37%±4% of centrally nucleated fibers; PBS versus TAT), the susceptibility to eccentric contraction-induced force drop (72%±5% versus 40%±8% drop; PBS versus TAT), and increased specific force production (9.7±1.1 N/cm2 versus 12.8±0.9 N/cm2; PBS versus TAT).
Conclusions
These results are, to our knowledge, the first to establish the efficacy and feasibility of TAT-utrophin-based constructs as a novel direct protein-replacement therapy for the treatment of skeletal and cardiac muscle diseases caused by loss of dystrophin.
Editors' Summary
Background
Muscular dystrophies are genetic (inherited) diseases in which the body's muscles gradually weaken and degenerate. The commonest and most severe muscular dystrophy—Duchenne muscular dystrophy—affects 1 in 3,500 boys (girls can be carriers of the disease but rarely have any symptoms). At birth, these boys seem normal but the symptoms of their disease begin to appear in early childhood. Affected children may initially have difficulty walking or find it to hard to sit or stand independently. As they age, their muscle strength progressively declines and most affected boys are confined to a wheelchair by the time they are 12 years old. The muscles involved in breathing also weaken and the heart muscle becomes enlarged. Few boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy live beyond their early 20 s, usually dying from breathing or heart problems. At present there is no cure for Duchenne muscular dystrophy. However, physical therapy and treatment with steroids can prolong the ability of patients to walk, and assisted ventilation can help with their breathing.
Why Was This Study Done?
In all muscular dystrophies, one of the proteins needed to build and maintain healthy muscles is missing or nonfunctional because of a genetic change (mutation). In Duchenne muscular dystrophy the mutation is in dystrophin, a protein that is involved in the formation of the dystrophin–glycoprotein complex. This complex normally sits in the membranes that surround muscle fibers and protects these membranes from damage during muscle contraction. Consequently, in Duchenne muscular dystrophy, the muscle fiber membranes become damaged and eventually the muscle fibers die. Thus, if functional dystrophin could be introduced into the muscles of patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy, it might be possible to reduce their symptoms and prolong their lives. Indeed, the effects of dystrophin deficiency in the dystrophin-deficient mdx mouse can be reduced by the introduction of an artificial gene that expresses dystrophin or the closely related protein utrophin. Unfortunately, this gene therapy approach has not yet been effectively demonstrated in humans. In this study, therefore, the researchers investigate whether utrophin protein can be introduced directly into dystrophin-deficient mouse muscles by exposing the muscle cells to utrophin fused to the protein transduction domain of the HIV-1 TAT protein. Most proteins will not cross cell membranes, but proteins fused to this cell-penetrating domain readily enter many cell types, including muscle cells.
What Did the Researchers Do and Find?
The researchers injected full-length utrophin fused to the TAT protein transduction domain (TAT-Utr) and a short, “micro” version of utrophin fused to the same domain (TAT-μUtr) into the abdomens of mdx mice and looked to see where the proteins ended up. After two injections, both proteins were present in a wide range of tissues and organs, including several types of muscle. However, the levels of TAT-Utr were much lower than those of TAT-μUtr. Next, the researchers injected another group of mdx mice with TAT-μUtr six times over three weeks. Again, TAT-μUtr was present in all the tissues that the researchers examined. Furthermore, μUtr–glycoprotein complexes formed in the TAT-μUtr injected mdx mice and the membrane integrity and overall health of the dystrophin-deficient muscles of the mdx mice improved compared to mdx mice treated with saline. Finally, the researchers report, TAT-μUtr injections greatly improved the contractile performance of the muscles of the mdx mice.
What Do These Findings Mean?
These findings provide the first demonstration that injection of TAT-utrophin protein fusions may provide a way to treat muscular dystrophies caused by the loss of dystrophin. However, although this direct protein-replacement therapy looks hopeful, approaches that work in animals do not necessarily work in people. In particular, for this approach to work in patients with muscular dystrophy, it would be necessary to give frequent, high-dose injections of the TAT-μUtr fusion protein, a process that could eventually trigger a deleterious immune response. Nevertheless, the researchers suggest that by combining this novel approach with other approaches that also increase utrophin expression, it might be possible to prevent or delay the development of the symptoms of Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Additional Information
Please access these Web sites via the online version of this summary at http://dx.doi.org/10.1371/journal.pmed.1000085.
The US National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke provides information on muscular dystrophy and ongoing research into possible treatments (in English and Spanish)
The US National Human Genome Research Institute also provides basic information on Duchenne muscular dystrophy and links to additional resources
The UK National Health Service Choices Web site has pages for patients and caregivers on muscular dystrophy
The Nemours Foundation provides information about muscular dystrophy for parents, children, and teenagers
For links to further resources on muscular dystrophy, see also MedlinePlus
doi:10.1371/journal.pmed.1000083
PMCID: PMC2680620  PMID: 19478831
7.  The glucocorticoid receptor N363S polymorphism and steroid response in Duchenne dystrophy 
Background
Steroid administration is beneficial in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), but the response, incidence, and the severity of side effects are variable.
Aims
To investigate whether glucocorticoid receptor (GRL) gene polymorphisms may be responsible for glucocorticoid sensitivity in DMD.
Methods
Forty eight DMD patients treated either with prednisone or deflazacort were subjected to genetic analyses of the GRL gene.
Results
Mutation studies revealed an heterozygous A to G mutation at GRL cDNA position 1220 in three DMD patients resulting in an asparagine to serine amino acid change at amino acid position 363 (N363S). The N363S carrier DMD patients showed a trend towards a later age at loss of ambulation in comparison with non‐carrier patients.
Conclusions
These data suggest that the N363S GRL polymorphism may be implicated in the long term response to glucocorticoids.
doi:10.1136/jnnp.2005.078345
PMCID: PMC2077532  PMID: 16980656
Duchenne muscular dystrophy; glucocorticoid receptor; SNP; steroid therapy
8.  Long term treatment of polymyalgia rheumatica with deflazacort. 
Annals of the Rheumatic Diseases  1994;53(5):331-333.
OBJECTIVES--To evaluate the long term efficacy and tolerability of deflazacort, a corticosteroid reputed to have only minor side effects, in the treatment of polymyalgia rheumatica (PMR). METHODS--In a prospective open study, deflazacort was administered at an average initial dose of 21.8 mg/day for a mean period of 19 months in 40 patients with PMR. RESULTS--A highly significant improvement of clinical and laboratory parameters occurred one month after therapy onset. This improvement persisted for the whole study period. Laboratory parameters of tolerability did not change during the study. Mild to moderate steroid-related side effects occurred in 57.9% of the patients. CONCLUSIONS--Deflazacort is effective in the treatment of PMR. Its long term safety profile may be superior to that of other corticosteroids.
PMCID: PMC1005333  PMID: 8017988
9.  Effect of spinal surgery on lung function in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. 
Thorax  1995;50(11):1173-1178.
BACKGROUND--The effect on subsequent respiratory function of spinal stabilisation for scoliosis in Duchenne muscular dystrophy is unclear. In order to clarify this clinical problem, changes in the forced vital capacity of a group of children with Duchenne muscular dystrophy who had undergone spinal surgery were measured and compared with a group of children with Duchenne muscular dystrophy who had not had surgery. METHODS--In this retrospective study 17 boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy who underwent spinal stabilisation at a mean age of 14.9 years (surgical group) were compared with 21 boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy who had not had surgery (non-surgical group). The mean (SD) Cobb angle of the surgical group at 14.9 years was 57 (16.4) degrees, and of the non-surgical group at 15 years was 45 (29.9) degrees. Forced vital capacity expressed as percentage predicted (% FVC) was measured in total over a seven year period in the surgical group and over 6.5 years in the non-surgical group, and regression equations were calculated. Survival curves for both groups were also constructed. RESULTS--No difference was found between spinal stabilisation (surgical group) and the non-surgical group in the rate of deterioration of % FVC which was 3-5% per year. There was no difference in survival in either group. CONCLUSIONS--Spinal stabilisation in Duchenne muscular dystrophy does not alter the decline in pulmonary function, nor does it improve survival.
PMCID: PMC475089  PMID: 8553273
10.  Deflazacort for Type-1 Autoimmune Hepatitis in a Korean Girl 
Journal of Korean Medical Science  2006;21(4):758-760.
Prednisone or prednisolone are the mainstay drug treatments for autoimmune hepatitis in children. However, long-term use of corticosteroid is associated with the risk of steroid-induced toxicities, and this situation requires newer immuno-suppressive agents for the treatment of autoimmune hepatitis, especially in growing children. An 11-yr-old Korean girl with type-1 autoimmune hepatitis discontinued prednisolone due to toxicities, i.e., hirsutism, buffalo hump, and skin striae, and remained clinical and biochemical remission under replacement of deflazacort and ursodeoxycholic acid combination therapy. A follow-up liver biopsy after 19 months of deflazacort and ursodeoxycholic acid treatment showed histologic remission.
doi:10.3346/jkms.2006.21.4.758
PMCID: PMC2729905  PMID: 16891827
Hepatitis, Autoimmune; deflazacort; Child
11.  Comparative study of the effects of different glucocorticosteroids on eosinophil survival primed by cultured epithelial cell supernatants obtained from nasal mucosa and nasal polyps. 
Thorax  1995;50(3):270-274.
BACKGROUND--Supernatants from epithelial cell cultures enhance eosinophil survival in vitro, this effect being abrogated by previous incubation of eosinophils with glucocorticosteroids. This property has resulted in the development of an in vitro test to compare the potency of these drugs. A comparative study was performed with dexamethasone, methylprednisolone, deflazacort, and budesonide. METHODS--Human epithelial cell conditioned media (HECM) was generated from cultured epithelial cells obtained from healthy nasal mucosa and polyps. Eosinophils isolated from the peripheral blood were incubated with different corticosteroids for one hour before the addition of HECM. The inhibitory potency of the four steroids on the eosinophil survival index was compared using the concentration of steroid causing 50% inhibition (IC50). RESULTS--Eosinophil survival was increased by HECM from both healthy nasal mucosa and polyps. All four steroids blocked HECM-induced eosinophil survival in a dose-dependent manner. On healthy nasal mucosa methylprednisolone was the least potent (IC50 = 536 nM), deflazacort (IC50 = 264 nM) was twice as potent as methylprednisolone, while budesonide and dexamethasone were approximately nine times as potent (both IC50 = 58 nM). When potency was evaluated on the promoting effects of the HECM obtained from nasal polyps, the inhibitory potencies were lower and consequently the IC50 values were higher when compared with HECM generated from healthy nasal mucosa: methylprednisolone (IC50 = 546 nM), deflazacort (IC50 = 390 nM), dexamethasone (IC50 = 76 nM), and budesonide (IC50 = 78 nM). CONCLUSIONS--The potencies of glucocorticosteroids can be compared by evaluating their effects on the survival of eosinophils previously primed by supernatants obtained from epithelial cell culture. The different effects of steroids on eosinophils primed by HECM obtained from healthy nasal mucosa compared with HECM obtained from nasal polyps suggest that polyps might represent more active tissue which is relatively resistant to treatment with corticosteroids.
Images
PMCID: PMC1021191  PMID: 7660341
12.  Prednisolone improves walking in Japanese Duchenne muscular dystrophy patients 
Journal of Neurology  2013;260(12):3023-3029.
We evaluated the long-term efficacy of prednisolone (PSL) therapy for prolonging ambulation in Japanese patients with genetically confirmed Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). There were clinical trials have shown a short-term positive effect of high-dose and daily PSL on ambulation, whereas a few study showed a long-term effect. Especially in Japan, “real-life” observation was lacking. We utilized the national registry of muscular dystrophy in Japan for our retrospective study. We compared the age at loss of ambulation (LOA) between patients in PSL group and those in without-PSL group. Out of 791 patients’ in the Remudy DMD/BMD registry from July 2009 to June 2012, 560 were matched with inclusion criteria. Of the 560, all were genetically confirmed DMD patients, 245 (43.8 %) of whom were treated with PSL and 315 (56.2 %) without PSL. There was no difference between the two groups regarding their mutational profile. The age at LOA was significantly greater (11 month on average) in the PSL group than in the without-PSL group (median, 132 vs. 121 months; p = 0.0002). Although strictly controlled clinical trials have shown that corticosteroid therapies achieved a marked improvement in ambulation, discontinuation of the drug due to intolerable side effects led to exclusion of clinical trial participants, which is considered as unavoidable. In our study, patients were not excluded from the PSL group, even if they discontinued the medication shortly after starting it. The results of our study may provide evidence to formulate recommendations and provide a basis for realistic expectations for PSL treatment of DMD patients in Japan, even there are certain limitations due to the retrospectively captured data in the registry.
doi:10.1007/s00415-013-7104-y
PMCID: PMC3843366  PMID: 24057148
Duchenne muscular dystrophy; Prednisolone; Walking; National registry; Natural history
13.  Deflazacort for the treatment of Duchenne Dystrophy: A systematic review 
BMC Neurology  2003;3:7.
Background
To complete a systematic review and meta-analysis based on the clinical question: Is Deflazacort (DFZ), a prednisolone derivative, an effective therapy for improving strength, with acceptable side effects, in children with Duchenne Dystrophy (DD)?
Methods
MEDLINE, EMBASE, Current Contents, Dissertation Abstracts, Health Star, PsychINFO and Cochrane, were searched using the following inclusion criteria: 1) A randomized controlled trial comparing DFZ with placebo or another therapy; 2) Male participants age 2–18 years with DD; 3) Outcomes of (a) any form of strength or functional testing, or (b) any form of side effect.
Results
Fifteen studies of potential relevance were identified, with five meeting the inclusion criteria. These five studies included 291 children and were published in English language journals between 1994 and 2000. Two studies compared DFZ versus placebo, two studies compared DFZ with prednisone and one study had both placebo and prednisone comparisions. Two large trials were identified that have not been published in article format. Due to the heterogeneity in outcome measures and the inconsistent reporting of summary statistics a meta-analytic approach could not be taken.
Conclusions
Examining individual studies it appears that DFZ improves strength and functional outcomes compared to placebo, but it remains unclear if it has a benefit over prednisone on similar outcomes. Two trials found that DFZ causes less weight gain than prednisone.
doi:10.1186/1471-2377-3-7
PMCID: PMC222985  PMID: 12962544
14.  Electron Spin Resonance Studies of Erythrocytes from Patients with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1978;61(2):251-259.
The membrane organization of the erythrocytes from patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy was studied by means of electron spin resonance. The fluidity of the membrane near the polar region of Duchenne muscular dystrophy erythrocytes was similar to that of normal erythrocytes. The membrane environment in the nonpolar region, however, was quite different from that of normal erythrocytes, judged by the spectra with 2-(14-carboxytetradecyl) - 2 - ethyl - 4,4 - dimethyl - 3 - oxazolidinyloxyl as probe. The temperature dependence of the ratio of the line height of central field to that at the low field showed two inflection points in normal erythrocytes at pH 7.4 (13.5°-16.5° and 37.5°-40.5°C, respectively) but the inflection point in the lower temperature range was not detected in Duchenne muscular dystrophy erythrocytes. When pH was varied, an abrupt decrease in the ratio was observed at pH 5.9-5.6 in normal erythrocytes whereas there was a gradual decrease over the range of pH from 6.6 to 5.0 in Duchenne muscular dystrophy erythrocytes.
The rate of reduction of the radical 2-(3-carboxypropyl)-4,4-dimethyl-2-tridecyl-3-oxazolidinyloxyl by ascorbate in normal erythrocytes was faster than that in Duchenne muscular dystrophy erythrocytes. Treatment of both erythrocytes with phloretin markedly reduced the rate of reduction by ascorbate and eliminated the difference in the two types of erythrocyte. These results indicate that in Duchenne muscular dystrophy the erythrocyte membrane is involved as well as the muscle cell.
PMCID: PMC372534  PMID: 23391
15.  Corticosteroid-Sparing Effect of Chromoglycate Sodium and Nedocromil 
Mediators of Inflammation  1994;3(7):S25-S30.
The most appropiate management for bronchial asthma is the control of airway inflammation. Corticosteroids are the most effective anti-inflammatory drugs available, but they have a number of side effects; most of these are dose-dependent. In children, asthma control should be accomplished with low steroid doses possibly given by inhalation. In a double-bind placebo-controlled crossover study a group of children with mild to moderate asthma received NED 16 mg/day or BDP 400 μg/day. Values for FEV1, PEF, symptoms use ofbronchodilators overlapped, whereas bronchial hyper-responsiveness assessed by histamine bronchoprovocation challenge was better with BDP than NED. In another case, one boy with high bronchial hyper-reactivity assessed by provocation test with hypertonic solution, experienced a significant improvement only after 2 weeks of therapy with Deflazacort (2 mg/Kg/day) followed by 4 months on combined treatment with NED (16 mg/day) and BDP (300 μ/day). Authors conclude that NED could have a steroidsparing effect over long-term use.
doi:10.1155/S0962935194000712
PMCID: PMC2365591  PMID: 18475599
16.  Dystrophin quantification and clinical correlations in Becker muscular dystrophy: implications for clinical trials 
Brain  2011;134(12):3544-3556.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy is caused by mutations in the DMD gene that disrupt the open reading frame and prevent the full translation of its protein product, dystrophin. Restoration of the open reading frame and dystrophin production can be achieved by exon skipping using antisense oligonucleotides targeted to splicing elements. This approach aims to transform the Duchenne muscular dystrophy phenotype to that of the milder disorder, Becker muscular dystrophy, typically caused by in-frame dystrophin deletions that allow the production of an internally deleted but partially functional dystrophin. There is ongoing debate regarding the functional properties of the different internally deleted dystrophins produced by exon skipping for different mutations; more insight would be valuable to improve and better predict the outcome of exon skipping clinical trials. To this end, we have characterized the clinical phenotype of 17 patients with Becker muscular dystrophy harbouring in-frame deletions relevant to on-going or planned exon skipping clinical trials for Duchenne muscular dystrophy and correlated it to the levels of dystrophin, and dystrophin-associated protein expression. The cohort of 17 patients, selected exclusively on the basis of their genotype, included 4 asymptomatic, 12 mild and 1 severe patient. All patients had dystrophin levels of >40% of control and significantly higher dystrophin (P = 0.013), β-dystroglycan (P = 0.025) and neuronal nitric oxide synthase (P = 0.034) expression was observed in asymptomatic individuals versus symptomatic patients with Becker muscular dystrophy. Furthermore, grouping the patients by deletion, patients with Becker muscular dystrophy with deletions with an end-point of exon 51 (the skipping of which could rescue the largest group of Duchenne muscular dystrophy deletions) showed significantly higher dystrophin levels (P = 0.034) than those with deletions ending with exon 53. This is the first quantitative study on both dystrophin and dystrophin-associated protein expression in patients with Becker muscular dystrophy with deletions relevant for on-going exon skipping trials in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Taken together, our results indicate that all varieties of internally deleted dystrophin assessed in this study have the functional capability to provide a substantial clinical benefit to patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
doi:10.1093/brain/awr291
PMCID: PMC3235564  PMID: 22102647
Becker muscular dystrophy; Duchenne muscular dystrophy; nNOS; dystrophin-associated glycoprotein complex; therapy
17.  Emerging Drugs for Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy 
Expert opinion on emerging drugs  2012;17(2):261-277.
Introduction
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is the most common, severe childhood form of muscular dystrophy. Treatment is limited to glucocorticoids that have the benefit of prolonging ambulation by approximately 2 years and preventing scoliosis. Finding a more satisfactory treatment should focus on maintaining long-term efficacy with a minimal side effect profile.
Areas covered
Authors discuss different therapeutic strategies that have been used in pre-clinical and clinical settings.
Expert opinion
Multiple treatment approaches have emerged. Most attractive are molecular-based therapies that can express the missing dystrophin protein (exon skipping or mutation suppression) or a surrogate gene product (utrophin). Other approaches include increasing the strength of muscles (myostatin inhibitors), reducing muscle fibrosis, and decreasing oxidative stress. Additional targets include inhibiting NF-κB to reduce inflammation, or promoting skeletal muscle blood flow and muscle contractility using phosphodiesterase inhibitors or nitric oxide (NO) donors. The potential for each of these treatment strategies to enter clinical trials is a central theme of discussion. The review emphasizes that the goal of treatment should be to find a product at least as good as glucocorticoids with a lower side effect profile or with a significant glucocorticoid sparing effect.
doi:10.1517/14728214.2012.691965
PMCID: PMC3486431  PMID: 22632414
Duchenne muscular dystrophy; exon skipping; mutation suppression; stop codon readthrough; utrophin; myostatin inhibition; nitric oxide; phosphodiesterase inhibitors; NF-κB inhibition
18.  Drug treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy: available evidence and perspectives 
Acta Myologica  2012;31(1):4-8.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a disease linked to the X-chromosome which affects 1 in 3,600-6,000 newborn males. It is manifested by the absence of the dystrophin protein in muscle fibres, which causes progressive damage leading to death in the third decade of life. The only medication so far shown to be effective in delaying the progression of this illness are corticosteroids, which have been shown to increase muscle strength in randomised controlled studies; long-term studies have demonstrated that they prolong walking time and retard the progression of respiratory dysfunction, dilated cardiomyopathy and scoliosis. Several potential drugs are now being investigated. Genetic therapy, involving the insertion of a dystrophin gene through a vector, has proven effective in animals but not humans. Currently under clinical study is Ataluren, a molecule that binds with ribosomes and may allow the insertion of an aminoacid in the premature termination codon, and exon-skipping, which binds with RNA and excludes specific sites of RNA splicing, producing a dystrophin that is smaller but functional. There are also studies attempting to modulate other muscular proteins, such as myostatin and utrophin, to reduce symptoms. This paper does not address cardiomyopathy treatment in DMD patients.
PMCID: PMC3440798  PMID: 22655510
Duchenne muscular dystrophy; drug treatment; clinical trials
19.  Exon skipping and dystrophin restoration in patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy after systemic phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomer treatment: an open-label, phase 2, dose-escalation study 
Lancet  2011;378(9791):595-605.
Summary
Background
We report clinical safety and biochemical efficacy from a dose-ranging study of intravenously administered AVI-4658 phosphorodiamidate morpholino oligomer (PMO) in patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Method
We undertook an open-label, phase 2, dose-escalation study (0·5, 1·0, 2·0, 4·0, 10·0, and 20·0 mg/kg bodyweight) in ambulant patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy aged 5–15 years with amenable deletions in DMD. Participants had a muscle biopsy before starting treatment and after 12 weekly intravenous infusions of AVI-4658. The primary study objective was to assess safety and tolerability of AVI-4658. The secondary objectives were pharmacokinetic properties and the ability of AVI-4658 to induce exon 51 skipping and dystrophin restoration by RT-PCR, immunohistochemistry, and immunoblotting. The study is registered, number NCT00844597.
Findings
19 patients took part in the study. AVI-4658 was well tolerated with no drug-related serious adverse events. AVI-4658 induced exon 51 skipping in all cohorts and new dystrophin protein expression in a significant dose-dependent (p=0·0203), but variable, manner in boys from cohort 3 (dose 2 mg/kg) onwards. Seven patients responded to treatment, in whom mean dystrophin fluorescence intensity increased from 8·9% (95% CI 7·1–10·6) to 16·4% (10·8–22·0) of normal control after treatment (p=0·0287). The three patients with the greatest responses to treatment had 21%, 15%, and 55% dystrophin-positive fibres after treatment and these findings were confirmed with western blot, which showed an increase after treatment of protein levels from 2% to 18%, from 0·9% to 17%, and from 0% to 7·7% of normal muscle, respectively. The dystrophin-associated proteins α-sarcoglycan and neuronal nitric oxide synthase were also restored at the sarcolemma. Analysis of the inflammatory infiltrate indicated a reduction of cytotoxic T cells in the post-treatment muscle biopsies in the two high-dose cohorts.
Interpretation
The safety and biochemical efficacy that we present show the potential of AVI-4658 to become a disease-modifying drug for Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Funding
UK Medical Research Council; AVI BioPharma.
doi:10.1016/S0140-6736(11)60756-3
PMCID: PMC3156980  PMID: 21784508
20.  Effects of steroids and angiotensin converting enzyme inhibition on circumferential strain in boys with Duchenne muscular dystrophy: a cross-sectional and longitudinal study utilizing cardiovascular magnetic resonance 
Background
Steroid use has prolonged ambulation in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and combined with advances in respiratory care overall management has improved such that cardiac manifestations have become the major cause of death. Unfortunately, there is no consensus for DMD-associated cardiac disease management. Our purpose was to assess effects of steroid use alone or in combination with angiotensin converting enzyme inhibitors (ACEI) or angiotension receptor blocker (ARB) on cardiovascular magnetic resonance (CMR) derived circumferential strain (εcc).
Methods
We used CMR to assess effects of corticosteroids alone (Group A) or in combination with ACEI or ARB (Group B) on heart rate (HR), left ventricular ejection fraction (LVEF), mass (LVM), end diastolic volume (LVEDV) and circumferential strain (εcc) in a cohort of 171 DMD patients >5 years of age. Treatment decisions were made independently by physicians at both our institution and referral centers and not based on CMR results.
Results
Patients in Group A (114 studies) were younger than those in Group B (92 studies)(10 ± 2.4 vs. 12.4 ± 3.2 years, p < 0.0001), but HR, LVEF, LVEDV and LVM were not different. Although εcc magnitude was lower in Group B than Group A (-13.8 ± 1.9 vs. -12.8 ± 2.0, p = 0.0004), age correction using covariance analysis eliminated this effect. In a subset of patients who underwent serial CMR exams with an inter-study time of ~15 months, εcc worsened regardless of treatment group.
Conclusions
These results support the need for prospective clinical trials to identify more effective treatment regimens for DMD associated cardiac disease.
doi:10.1186/1532-429X-13-60
PMCID: PMC3207955  PMID: 22011358
21.  Old and new therapeutic developments in steroid treatment in Duchenne muscular dystrophy 
Acta Myologica  2012;31(1):9-15.
Steroids have been used since two decades and several trials were conducted to establish their efficacy in DMD patients with various regimens. The clinical outcomes showed increased function in the treated boys, and in a single trial with deflazacort, prolongation of ambulation but with different side effects. Steroids clinical efficacy is now established. The main concern is to increase steroid efficacy and decrease side effect and toxicity. A trial comparing daily prednisone, deflazacort and intermittent glucocorticoids (prednisone 10 days on/10 days off) (FOR-DMD) is starting under NIH grant. The primary outcomes will be muscle strength, forced vital capacity and patient/parents satisfaction.
PMCID: PMC3440806  PMID: 22655511
Steroids; Duchenne; DMD; side effect; quality of life
22.  Long Term Natural History Data in Ambulant Boys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy: 36-Month Changes 
PLoS ONE  2014;9(10):e108205.
The 6 minute walk test has been recently chosen as the primary outcome measure in international multicenter clinical trials in Duchenne muscular dystrophy ambulant patients. The aim of the study was to assess the spectrum of changes at 3 years in the individual measures, their correlation with steroid treatment, age and 6 minute walk test values at baseline. Ninety-six patients from 11 centers were assessed at baseline and 12, 24 and 36 months after baseline using the 6 minute walk test and the North Star Ambulatory Assessment. Three boys (3%) lost the ability to perform the 6 minute walk test within 12 months, another 13 between 12 and 24 months (14%) and 11 between 24 and 36 months (12%). The 6 minute walk test showed an average overall decline of −15.8 (SD 77.3) m at 12 months, of −58.9 (SD 125.7) m at 24 months and −104.22 (SD 146.2) m at 36 months. The changes were significantly different in the two baseline age groups and according to the baseline 6 minute walk test values (below and above 350 m) (p<0.001). The changes were also significantly different according to steroid treatment (p = 0.01). Similar findings were found for the North Star Ambulatory Assessment. These are the first 36 month longitudinal data using the 6 minute walk test and North Star Ambulatory Assessment in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Our findings will help not only to have a better idea of the progression of the disorder but also provide reference data that can be used to compare with the results of the long term extension studies that are becoming available.
doi:10.1371/journal.pone.0108205
PMCID: PMC4182715  PMID: 25271887
23.  Metabolic Effects of Human Growth Hormone and of Estrogens in Boys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy 
Journal of Clinical Investigation  1972;51(5):1118-1124.
Metabolic balance studies were conducted in seven boys with Duchenne-type muscular dystrophy, and in six normal boys of similar age, during a 12 day control period and during a 12 day period of treatment with human growth hormone (HGH) at the following doses: 0.0168, 0.0532, and 0.168 U/kg body weight (BW)¾ per day (doses A, B, and C, respectively). In five of the six normals, dose C caused positive balances in N, P, Na, and K; doses B and A had anabolic effects in two and one normal subjects, respectively. In six of the seven Duchenne cases, dose C caused negative balances of N and K, and sometimes of P. Negative balances were produced in three of the Duchenne subjects by dose B, and in one by dose A. None of the dystrophy cases exhibited an anabolic response to any dosage of HGH tested.
The release of endogenous HGH in response to insulin, after 2 days' pretreatment with diethylstilbestrol, was similar in both groups of subjects. In the course of these tests, a marked anabolic effect of diethylstilbestrol in the Duchenne patients was apparent. Therefore metabolic balance studies were repeated, in both Duchenne and normal cases, during a 12 day control period and during 12 days of treatment with diethylstilbestrol (0.106 mg/kg BW¾ per day). In three of the normal children, diethylstilbestrol had no effect on the elemental balances; in two cases, a retention of Na was observed. In all seven Duchenne cases, diethylstilbestrol caused positive balances in N, P, Na, and K. Ethinyl estradiol (0.0106 mg/kg BW¾ per day) produced positive N, P, Na, and K balances in all three Duchenne cases tested with this agent.
The data show that exogenous HGH causes a catabolic effect in boys with Duchenne dystrophy. These patients are hyperresponsive to the anabolic effect of diethylstilbestrol. The latter phenomenon may reflect the inhibitory effect of estrogen upon the peripheral actions of these boys' endogenous HGH.
PMCID: PMC292241  PMID: 5057128
24.  Long term non-invasive ventilation in the community for patients with musculoskeletal disorders: 46 year experience and review 
Thorax  2000;55(1):4-11.
BACKGROUND—A study was undertaken to assess the long term physiological and clinical outcome in 79 patients with musculoskeletal disorders (73 neuromuscular, six of the chest wall) who received non-invasive ventilation for chronic respiratory failure over a period of 46years.
METHODS—Vital capacity (VC) and carbon dioxide tension (PCO2) before and after initiation of ventilation, type and duration of ventilatory assistance, the need for tracheostomy, and mortality were retrospectively studied in 48 patients who were managed with mouth/nasal intermittent positive pressure ventilation (M/NIPPV) and 31 who received body ventilation. The two largest groups analysed were 45 patients with poliomyelitis and 15 with Duchenne's muscular dystrophy. Twenty five patients with poliomyelitis received body ventilation (for a mean of 290 months) and 20 were supported by M/NIPPV (mean 38 months). All 15 patients with Duchenne's muscular dystrophy were ventilated by NIPPV (mean 22months).
RESULTS—Fourteen patients with poliomyelitis on body ventilation (56%) but only one on M/NIPPV, and 10 of 15 patients (67%) with Duchenne's muscular dystrophy eventually received tracheostomies for ventilatory support. Five patients with other neuromuscular disorders required tracheostomies. Twenty of 29 tracheostomies (69%) were provided because of progressive disease and hypercarbia which could not be controlled by non-invasive ventilation; the remaining nine were placed because of bulbar dysfunction and aspiration related complications. Nine of 10 deaths occurred in patients on body ventilation (six with poliomyelitis), although the causes of death were varied and not necessarily related to respiratory complications. A proportionately greater number of patients on M/NIPPV (67%) reported positive outcomes (improved sense of wellbeing and independence) than did those on body ventilation (29%, p<0.01). However, other than tracheostomies and deaths, negative outcomes in the form of machine/interface discomfort and self-discontinuation of ventilation also occurred at a rate 2.3 times higher than in the group who received body ventilation. None of the six patients with chest wall disorders (all on M/NIPPV) required tracheostomy or died. Hospital admission rates increased nearly eightfold in patients receiving body ventilation (all poliomyelitis patients) compared with before ventilation (p<0.01) while in those supported by M/NIPPV they were reduced by 36%.
CONCLUSIONS—Non-invasive ventilation (NIV) in the community over prolonged periods is a feasible although variably tolerated form of management in patients with neuromuscular disorders. While patients who received body ventilation were followed the longest (mean 24 years), the need for tracheostomy and deaths occurred more often in this group (most commonly in the poliomyelitis patients). Despite a number of discomforts associated with M/NIPPV, a larger proportion of patients experienced improved wellbeing, independence, and ability to perform daily activities.


doi:10.1136/thorax.55.1.4
PMCID: PMC1745585  PMID: 10607795
25.  Oxygen treatment of sleep hypoxaemia in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. 
Thorax  1989;44(12):997-1001.
Patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy develop progressive ventilatory muscle weakness and often die of respiratory complications. Recurrent, often profound, hypoxaemia has been shown in a previous study by this group to occur during rapid eye movement (REM) sleep in these patients before they develop sleep symptoms. In this study the efficacy and physiological effects of nocturnal oxygen in such patients have been assessed. Seven patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy (age range 16-22 years; mean vital capacity 1.37 litres) with normal arterial blood gas tensions when awake were investigated by standard overnight polysomnography on an acclimatization night followed by two successive nights on which they received room air and nasal oxygen (2 litres/min) respectively in random order. Total sleep time, proportion of REM and non-REM sleep, and frequency and duration of arousals were similar on the two nights. When breathing air six of the seven subjects developed oxygen desaturation of more than 5% during REM sleep. With oxygen only one subject showed any oxygen desaturation exceeding 2.5%. Oxygen desaturation was associated with periods of hypopnoea or cessation of respiratory effort. The mean duration of episodes of hypopnoea and apnoea was prolonged during oxygen breathing by 19% and the mean duration of episodes during REM sleep by 33% (the proportion of REM sleep associated with hypopnoea and apnoea increased in all subjects). Heart rate in non-REM sleep fell by 9.3%; heart rate variation in REM and non-REM sleep was unchanged. These acute studies show that oxygen reduces the sleep hypoxaemia associated with respiratory muscle weakness; whether long term treatment will be possible or desirable is not clear as oxygen potentiates the underlying ventilatory disturbance.
PMCID: PMC1020871  PMID: 2617453

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