Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is an X-linked human disorder in which absence of the protein dystrophin causes degeneration of skeletal and cardiac muscle. For the sake of treatment development, over and above definitive genetic and cell-based therapies, there is considerable interest in drugs that target downstream disease mechanisms. Drug candidates have typically been chosen based on the nature of pathologic lesions and presumed underlying mechanisms and then tested in animal models. Mammalian dystrophinopathies have been characterized in mice (mdx mouse) and dogs (golden retriever muscular dystrophy [GRMD]). Despite promising results in the mdx mouse, some therapies have not shown efficacy in DMD. Although the GRMD model offers a higher hurdle for translation, dogs have primarily been used to test genetic and cellular therapies where there is greater risk. Failed translation of animal studies to DMD raises questions about the propriety of methods and models used to identify drug targets and test efficacy of pharmacologic intervention. The mdx mouse and GRMD dog are genetically homologous to DMD but not necessarily analogous. Subcellular species differences are undoubtedly magnified at the whole-body level in clinical trials. This problem is compounded by disparate cultures in clinical trials and preclinical studies, pointing to a need for greater rigor and transparency in animal experiments. Molecular assays such as mRNA arrays and genome-wide association studies allow identification of genetic drug targets more closely tied to disease pathogenesis. Genes in which polymorphisms have been directly linked to DMD disease progression, as with osteopontin, are particularly attractive targets.
animal models; drug development; Duchenne muscular dystrophy; golden retriever muscular dystrophy; genome wide association studies; mRNA arrays; mdx mouse; preclinical studies
In Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), a genetic disruption of dystrophin protein expression results in repeated muscle injury and chronic inflammation. Magnetic resonance imaging shows promise as a surrogate outcome measure in both DMD and rehabilitation medicine that is capable of predicting clinical benefit years in advance of functional outcome measures. The mdx mouse reproduces the dystrophin deficiency that causes DMD and is routinely used for preclinical drug testing. There is a need to develop sensitive, non-invasive outcome measures in the mdx model that can be readily translatable to human clinical trials. Here we report the use of magnetic resonance imaging and spectroscopy techniques for the non-invasive monitoring of muscle damage in mdx mice. Using these techniques, we studied dystrophic mdx muscle in mice from 6 to 12 weeks of age, examining both the peak disease phase and natural recovery phase of the mdx disease course. T2 and fat-suppressed imaging revealed significant levels of tissue with elevated signal intensity in mdx hindlimb muscles at all ages; spectroscopy revealed a significant deficiency of energy metabolites in 6-week-old mdx mice. As the mdx mice progressed from the peak disease stage to the recovery stage of disease, each of these phenotypes was either eliminated or reduced, and the cross-sectional area of the mdx muscle was significantly increased when compared to that of wild-type mice. Histology indicates that hyper-intense MRI foci correspond to areas of dystrophic lesions containing inflammation as well as regenerating, degenerating and hypertrophied myofibers. Statistical sample size calculations provide several robust measures with the ability to detect intervention effects using small numbers of animals. These data establish a framework for further imaging or preclinical studies, and they support the development of MRI as a sensitive, non-invasive outcome measure for muscular dystrophy.
Time series profiling is a powerful approach for obtaining information on protein expression dynamics and prevailing biochemical pathways. To date, such information could only be obtained at the mRNA level using mature and highly parallel technologies such as microarray gene expression profiling. The generation of time series data at the protein level has lagged due to the lack of robust and highly reproducible methodologies. Using a combination of SILAC strategy, SDS-PAGE and LC-MS/MS, we demonstrate successful monitoring of expression levels of the same set of proteins across different time points within the ER compartment of human primary fibroblast cells when exposed to ER stress inducers tunicamycin and thapsigargin. Data visualization was facilitated using GeneSpring GX analysis platform that was designed to process Affymetrix microarray data. This software also facilitated the generation of important parameters such as data normalization, calculation of statistical values to extract significant changes in protein expression, and the cross comparison of data sets.
SILAC; Isotope Ratio; LC-MS/MS; Proteome profiling; Time series; ER stress; GRP78; Reticulocalbin
Recent studies showed that chronic administration of losartan, an angiotensin II type I receptor antagonist, improved skeletal muscle function in dystrophin-deficient mdx mice. In this study, C57BL/10ScSn-Dmdmdx/J female mice were either untreated or treated with losartan (n = 15) in the drinking water at a dose of 600 mg/L over a 6-month period. Cardiac function was assessed via in vivo high frequency echocardiography and skeletal muscle function was assessed using grip strength testing, Digiscan monitoring, Rotarod timing, and in vitro force testing. Fibrosis was assessed using picrosirius red staining and Image J analysis. Gene expression was evaluated using real-time polymerized chain reaction (RT-PCR). Percentage shortening fraction was significantly decreased in untreated (26.9% ± 3.5%) mice compared to losartan-treated (32.2% ± 4.2%; P < .01) mice. Systolic blood pressure was significantly reduced in losartan-treated mice (56 ± 6 vs 69 ± 7 mm Hg; P < .0005). Percentage cardiac fibrosis was significantly reduced in losartan-treated hearts (P < .05) along with diaphragm (P < .01), extensor digitorum longus (P < .05), and gastrocnemius (P < .05) muscles compared to untreated mdx mice. There were no significant differences in skeletal muscle function between treated and untreated groups. Chronic treatment with losartan decreases cardiac and skeletal muscle fibrosis and improves cardiac systolic function in dystrophin-deficient mdx mice.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy; dystrophin; mice; cardiomyopathy; angiotensin; echocardiography
The availability of animal models for Duchenne muscular dystrophy has led to extensive preclinical research on potential therapeutics. Few studies have focused on reliability and sensitivity of endpoints for mdx mouse drug trials. Therefore, we sought to compare a wide variety of reported and novel endpoint measures in exercised mdx and normal control mice at 10, 20, and 40 weeks of age. Statistical analysis as well as power calculations for expected effect sizes in mdx preclinical drug trials across different ages showed that body weight, normalized grip strength, horizontal activity, rest time, cardiac function measurements, blood pressure, total central/peripheral nuclei per fiber, and serum creatine kinase are the most effective measurements for detecting drug-induced changes. These data provide an experimental basis upon which standardization of preclinical drug testing can be developed.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy; mdx mouse; preclinical trials; statistical analysis; phenotyping; muscle function tests; exercise; echocardiography
The over-expression of NF-κB signalling in both muscle and immune cells contribute to the pathology in dystrophic muscle. The anti-inflammatory properties of glucocorticoids, mediated predominantly through monomeric glucocorticoid receptor inhibition of transcription factors such as NF-κB (transrepression), are postulated to be an important mechanism for their beneficial effects in Duchenne muscular dystrophy. Chronic glucocorticoid therapy is associated with adverse effects on metabolism, growth, bone mineral density and the maintenance of muscle mass. These detrimental effects result from direct glucocorticoid receptor homodimer interactions with glucocorticoid response elements of the relevant genes. Compound A, a non-steroidal selective glucocorticoid receptor modulator, is capable of transrepression without transactivation. We confirm the in vitro NF-κB inhibitory activity of compound A in H-2Kb-tsA58 mdx myoblasts and myotubes, and demonstrate improvements in disease phenotype of dystrophin deficient mdx mice. Compound A treatment in mdx mice from 18 days of post-natal age to 8 weeks of age increased the absolute and normalized forelimb and hindlimb grip strength, attenuated cathepsin-B enzyme activity (a surrogate marker for inflammation) in forelimb and hindlimb muscles, decreased serum creatine kinase levels and reduced IL-6, CCL2, IFNγ, TNF and IL-12p70 cytokine levels in gastrocnemius (GA) muscles. Compared with compound A, treatment with prednisolone, a classical glucocorticoid, in both wild-type and mdx mice was associated with reduced body weight, reduced GA, tibialis anterior and extensor digitorum longus muscle mass and shorter tibial lengths. Prednisolone increased osteopontin (Spp1) gene expression and osteopontin protein levels in the GA muscles of mdx mice and had less favourable effects on the expression of Foxo1, Foxo3, Fbxo32, Trim63, Mstn and Igf1 in GA muscles, as well as hepatic Igf1 in wild-type mice. In conclusion, selective glucocorticoid receptor modulation by compound A represents a potential therapeutic strategy to improve dystrophic pathology.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy; glucocorticoids; glucocorticoid receptor; transrepression NF-κB; compound A
Δ9,11 modifications of glucocorticoids (21-aminosteroids) have been developed as drugs for protection against cell damage (lipid peroxidation; lazaroids) and inhibition of neovascularization (anecortave). Part of the rationale for developing these compounds has been the loss of glucocorticoid receptor binding due to the Δ9,11 modification, thus avoiding many immunosuppressive activities and deleterious side effect profiles associated with binding to glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid receptors. We recently demonstrated that anecortave acetate and its 21-hydroxy analog (VBP1) do, in fact, show glucocorticoid and mineralocorticoid receptor binding activities, with potent translocation of the glucocorticoid receptor to the cell nucleus. We concluded that Δ9,11 steroids showed novel anti-inflammatory properties, retaining NF-κB inhibition, but losing deleterious glucocorticoid side effect profiles. Evidence for this was developed in pre-clinical trials of chronic muscle inflammation. Here, we describe a drug development program aimed at optimizing the Δ9,11 chemistry. Twenty Δ9,11 derivatives were tested in in vitro screens for NF-κB inhibition and GR translocation to the nucleus, and low cell toxicity. VBP15 was selected as the lead compound due to potent NF-κB inhibition and GR translocation similar to prednisone and dexamethasone, lack of transactivation properties, and good bioavailability. Phamacokinetics were similar to traditional glucocorticoid drugs with terminal half-life of 0.35 h (mice), 0.58 h (rats), 5.42 h (dogs), and bioavailability of 74.5% (mice), and 53.2% (dogs). Metabolic stability showed ≥80% remaining at 1 h of VBP6 and VBP15 in human, dog, and monkey liver microsomes. Solubility, permeability and plasma protein binding were within acceptable limits. VBP15 moderately induced CYP3A4 across the three human hepatocyte donors (24–42%), similar to other steroids. VBP15 is currently under development for treatment of Duchenne muscular dystrophy.
Glucocorticoids; VBP15; Steroids; Anti-inflammatories; Neuromuscular disease
Myositis is characterized by severe muscle weakness. We and others have previously shown that endoplasmic reticulum (ER) stress plays a role in the pathogenesis of myositis. The present study was undertaken to identify perturbed pathways and assess their contribution to muscle disease in a mouse myositis model.
Stable isotope labeling with amino acids in cell culture (SILAC) was used to identify alterations in the skeletal muscle proteome of myositic mice in vivo. Differentially altered protein levels identified in the initial comparisons were validated using a liquid chromatography tandem mass spectrometry spike-in strategy and further confirmed by immunoblotting. In addition, we evaluated the effect of a proteasome inhibitor, bortezomib, on the disease phenotype, using well-standardized functional, histologic, and biochemical assessments.
With the SILAC technique we identified significant alterations in levels of proteins belonging to the ER stress response, ubiquitin proteasome pathway (UPP), oxidative phosphorylation, glycolysis, cytoskeleton, and muscle contractile apparatus categories. We validated the myositis-related changes in the UPP and demonstrated a significant increase in the ubiquitination of muscle proteins as well as a specific increase in ubiquitin carboxyl-terminal hydrolase isozyme L1 (UCHL-1) in myositis, but not in muscle affected by other dystrophies or normal muscle. Inhibition of the UPP with bortezomib significantly improved muscle function and also significantly reduced tumor necrosis factor α expression in the skeletal muscle of mice with myositis.
Our findings indicate that ER stress activates downstream UPPs and contributes to muscle degeneration and that UCHL-1 is a potential biomarker for disease progression. UPP inhibition offers a potential therapeutic strategy for myositis.
An absence of dysferlin leads to activation of innate immune receptors such as Toll-like receptors (TLRs) and skeletal muscle inflammation. Myeloid differentiation primary response gene 88 (MyD88) is a key mediator of TLR-dependent innate immune signalling. We hypothesized that endogenous TLR ligands released from the leaking dysferlin-deficient muscle fibres engage TLRs on muscle and immune cells and contribute to disease progression. To test this hypothesis, we generated and characterized dysferlin and MyD88 double-deficient mice. Double-deficient mice exhibited improved body weight, grip strength, and maximum muscle contractile force at 6–8 months of age when compared to MyD88-sufficient, dysferlin-deficient A/J mice. Double-deficient mice also showed a decrease in total fibre number, which contributed to the observed increase in the number of central nuclei/fibres. These results indicate that there was less regeneration in the double-deficient mice. We next tested the hypothesis that endogenous ligands, such as single-stranded ribonucleic acids (ssRNAs), released from damaged muscle cells bind to TLR-7/8 and perpetuate the disease progression. We found that injection of ssRNA into the skeletal muscle of pre-symptomatic mice (2 months old) resulted in a significant increase in degenerative fibres, inflammation, and regenerating fibres in A/J mice. In contrast, characteristic histological features were significantly decreased in double-deficient mice. These data point to a clear role for the TLR pathway in the pathogenesis of dysferlin deficiency and suggest that TLR-7/8 antagonists may have therapeutic value in this disease.
Toll-like receptor; dysferlin; single-stranded RNA; regeneration; degeneration; inflammation; osteopontin
This study explores a large panel of cytokines in plasma and CSF of patients with Aicardi-Goutières syndrome (AGS) at different ages, in order to establish signatures of cytokines most predictive of AGS.
Plasma from 22 subjects with known mutations were assayed for cytokines using the Milliplex MAP Immunobead system, and compared to results from 8 age-matched normal controls. CSF of 11 additional patients with mutation-proven AGS was tested in an identical manner and compared to results from age-matched controls. Samples were banked and analysis was carried out retrospectively.
Significant elevations were seen in FMS-related tyrosine kinase 3 ligand, IP-10, interleukin (IL)–12p40, IL-15, tumor necrosis factor α, and soluble IL 2 receptor α in both AGS patient plasma and CSF relative to controls. Additionally, this cytokine signature was able to correctly cluster 9 of 11 AGS cases based on CSF values. While most cytokines decreased exponentially with age, a subgroup including IP-10 demonstrated persistent elevation beyond early childhood.
Patients with AGS exhibit plasma and CSF elevations of proinflammatory cytokines. Selected cytokines remain persistently elevated beyond the initial disease phase. This panel of proinflammatory cytokines may be considered for use as diagnostic and therapeutic markers of disease, and may permit improved understanding of disease pathogenesis.
It is generally believed that muscle weakness in patients with polymyositis and dermatomyositis is due to autoimmune and inflammatory processes. However, it has been observed that there is a poor correlation between the suppression of inflammation and a recovery of muscle function in patients. We have therefore hypothesized that non-immune mechanisms also contribute to muscle weakness. In particular, it has been suggested that an acquired deficiency of AMP deaminase (AMPD1) may be responsible for muscle weakness in myositis.
We have used comprehensive functional, behavioral, histological, molecular, enzymatic and metabolic assessments before and after the onset of inflammation in MHC class I mouse model of autoimmune inflammatory myositis.
We found that muscle weakness and metabolic disturbances were detectable in the mice prior to the appearance of infiltrating mononuclear cells. Force contraction analysis of muscle function revealed that weakness was correlated with AMDP1 expression and was myositis-specific. We also demonstrated that decreasing AMPD1 expression results in decreased muscle strength in healthy mice. Fiber typing suggested that fast-twitch muscles are converted to slow-twitch muscles as myositis progresses, and microarray results indicated that AMPD1 and other purine nucleotide pathway genes are suppressed, along with genes essential to glycolysis.
These data suggest that an AMPD1 deficiency is acquired prior to overt muscle inflammation and is responsible, at least in part, for the muscle weakness that occurs in the mouse model of myositis. AMPD1 is therefore a potential therapeutic target in myositis.
Absence of dystrophin makes skeletal muscle more susceptible to injury, resulting in breaches of the plasma membrane and chronic inflammation in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Current management by glucocorticoids has unclear molecular benefits and harsh side effects. It is uncertain whether therapies that avoid hormonal stunting of growth and development, and/or immunosuppression, would be more or less beneficial. Here, we discover an oral drug with mechanisms that provide efficacy through anti-inflammatory signaling and membrane-stabilizing pathways, independent of hormonal or immunosuppressive effects. We find VBP15 protects and promotes efficient repair of skeletal muscle cells upon laser injury, in opposition to prednisolone. Potent inhibition of NF-κB is mediated through protein interactions of the glucocorticoid receptor, however VBP15 shows significantly reduced hormonal receptor transcriptional activity. The translation of these drug mechanisms into DMD model mice improves muscle strength, live-imaging and pathology through both preventive and post-onset intervention regimens. These data demonstrate successful improvement of dystrophy independent of hormonal, growth, or immunosuppressive effects, indicating VBP15 merits clinical investigation for DMD and would benefit other chronic inflammatory diseases.
anti-inflammatory; dystrophy; mdx; membrane injury; muscle
In Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), loss of the membrane stabilizing protein dystrophin results in myofiber damage. Microinjury to dystrophic myofibers also causes secondary imbalances in sarcolemmic ion permeability and resting membrane potential, which modifies excitation-contraction coupling and increases proinflammatory/apoptotic signaling cascades. Although glucocorticoids remain the standard of care for the treatment of DMD, there is a need to investigate the efficacy of other pharmacological agents targeting the involvement of imbalances in ion flux on dystrophic pathology.
We designed a preclinical trial to investigate the effects of lansoprazole (LANZO) administration, a proton pump inhibitor, on the dystrophic muscle phenotype in dystrophin deficient (mdx) mice. Eight to ten week-old female mice were assigned to one of four treatment groups (n = 12 per group): (1) vehicle control; (2) 5 mg/kg/day LANZO; (3) 5 mg/kg/day prednisolone; and (4) combined treatment of 5 mg/kg/day prednisolone (PRED) and 5 mg/kg/day LANZO. Treatment was administered orally 5 d/wk for 3 months. At the end of the study, behavioral (Digiscan) and functional outcomes (grip strength and Rotarod) were assessed prior to sacrifice. After sacrifice, body, tissue and organ masses, muscle histology, in vitro muscle force, and creatine kinase levels were measured. Mice in the combined treatment groups displayed significant reductions in the number of degenerating muscle fibers and number of inflammatory foci per muscle field relative to vehicle control. Additionally, mice in the combined treatment group displayed less of a decline in normalized forelimb and hindlimb grip strength and declines in in vitro EDL force after repeated eccentric contractions.
Together our findings suggest that combined treatment of LANZO and prednisolone attenuates some components of dystrophic pathology in mdx mice. Our findings warrant future investigation of the clinical efficacy of LANZO and prednisolone combined treatment regimens in dystrophic pathology.
Current treatments for idiopathic inflammatory myopathies (collectively called myositis) focus on the suppression of an autoimmune inflammatory response within the skeletal muscle. However, it has been observed that there is a poor correlation between the successful suppression of muscle inflammation and an improvement in muscle function. Some evidence in the literature suggests that metabolic abnormalities in the skeletal muscle underlie the weakness that continues despite successful immunosuppression. We have previously shown that decreased expression of a purine nucleotide cycle enzyme, adenosine monophosphate deaminase (AMPD1), leads to muscle weakness in a mouse model of myositis and may provide a mechanistic basis for muscle weakness. One of the downstream metabolites of this pathway, D-ribose, has been reported to alleviate symptoms of myalgia in patients with a congenital loss of AMPD1. Therefore, we hypothesized that supplementing exogenous D-ribose would improve muscle function in the mouse model of myositis. We treated normal and myositis mice with daily doses of D-ribose (4 mg/kg) over a 6-week time period and assessed its effects using a battery of behavioral, functional, histological and molecular measures.
Treatment with D-ribose was found to have no statistically significant effects on body weight, grip strength, open field behavioral activity, maximal and specific forces of EDL, soleus muscles, or histological features. Histological and gene expression analysis indicated that muscle tissues remained inflamed despite treatment. Gene expression analysis also suggested that low levels of the ribokinase enzyme in the skeletal muscle might prevent skeletal muscle tissue from effectively utilizing D-ribose.
Treatment with daily oral doses of D-ribose showed no significant effect on either disease progression or muscle function in the mouse model of myositis.
Idiopathic inflammatory myopathies (IIMs) are a heterogenous group of complex muscle diseases of unknown etiology. These diseases are characterized by progressive muscle weakness and damage, together with involvement of other organ systems. It is generally believed that the autoimmune response (autoreactive lymphocytes and autoantibodies) to skeletal muscle-derived antigens is responsible for the muscle fiber damage and muscle weakness in this group of disorders. Therefore, most of the current therapeutic strategies are directed at either suppressing or modifying immune cell activity. Recent studies have indicated that the underlying mechanisms that mediate muscle damage and dysfunction are multiple and complex. Emerging evidence indicates that not only autoimmune responses but also innate immune and non-immune metabolic pathways contribute to disease pathogenesis. However, the relative contributions of each of these mechanisms to disease pathogenesis are currently unknown. Here we discuss some of these complex pathways, their inter-relationships and their relation to muscle damage in myositis. Understanding the relative contributions of each of these pathways to disease pathogenesis would help us to identify suitable drug targets to alleviate muscle damage and also improve muscle weakness and quality of life for patients suffering from these debilitating muscle diseases.
Adaptive immune; Autophagy; Cytokines; Endoplasmic reticulum stress; Innate immune; Myositis; Skeletal muscle; TLRs
Congenital muscular dystrophy is a distinct group of diseases presenting with weakness in infancy or childhood and no current therapy. One form, MDC1A, is the result of laminin alpha-2 deficiency and results in significant weakness, respiratory insufficiency and early death. Modification of apoptosis is one potential pathway for therapy in these patients.
dy2J mice were treated with vehicle, 0.1 mg/kg or 1 mg/kg of omigapil daily via oral gavage over 17.5 weeks. Untreated age matched BL6 mice were used as controls. Functional, behavioral and histological measurements were collected.
dy2J mice treated with omigapil showed improved respiratory rates compared to vehicle treated dy2J mice (396 to 402 vs. 371 breaths per minute, p<0.03) and similar to control mice. There were no statistical differences in normalized forelimb grip strength between dy2J and controls at baseline or after 17.5 weeks and no significant differences seen among the dy2J treatment groups. At 30–33 weeks of age, dy2J mice treated with 0.1 mg/kg omigapil showed significantly more movement time and less rest time compared to vehicle treated. dy2J mice showed normal cardiac systolic function throughout the trial. dy2J mice had significantly lower hindlimb maximal (p<0.001) and specific force (p<0.002) compared to the control group at the end of the trial. There were no statistically significant differences in maximal or specific force among treatments. dy2J mice treated with 0.1 mg/kg/day omigapil showed decreased percent fibrosis in both gastrocnemius (p<0.03) and diaphragm (p<0.001) compared to vehicle, and in diaphragm (p<0.013) when compared to 1 mg/kg/day omigapil treated mice. Omigapil treated dy2J mice demonstrated decreased apoptosis.
Omigapil therapy (0.1 mg/kg) improved respiratory rate and decreased skeletal and respiratory muscle fibrosis in dy2J mice. These results support a putative role for the use of omigapil in laminin deficient congenital muscular dystrophy patients.
Our appreciation of the role of endoplasmic reticulum(ER) stress pathways in both skeletal muscle homeostasis and the progression of muscle diseases is gaining momentum. This review provides insight into ER stress mechanisms during physiologic and pathological disturbances in skeletal muscle. The role of ER stress in the response to dietary alterations and acute stressors, including its role in autoimmune and genetic muscle disorders, has been described. Recent studies identifying ER stress markers in diseased skeletal muscle are noted. The emerging evidence for ER–mitochondrial interplay in skeletal muscle and its importance during chronic ER stress in activation of both inflammatory and cell death pathways (autophagy, necrosis, and apoptosis) have been discussed. Thus, understanding the ER stress–related molecular pathways underlying physiologic and pathological phenotypes in healthy and diseased skeletal muscle should lead to novel therapeutic targets for muscle disease.
Skeletal muscle; Endoplasmic reticulum; Sarcoplasmic reticulum; Mitochondria; Myositis; ER stress; Autophagy; Necrosis; Apoptosis; Muscle disease
Asthma is a chronic inflammatory condition of the lower respiratory tract associated with airway hyperreactivity and mucus obstruction in which a majority of cases are due to an allergic response to environmental allergens. Glucocorticoids such as prednisone have been standard treatment for many inflammatory diseases for the past 60 years. However, despite their effectiveness, long-term treatment is often limited by adverse side effects believed to be caused by glucocorticoid receptor-mediated gene transcription. This has led to the pursuit of compounds that retain the anti-inflammatory properties yet lack the adverse side effects associated with traditional glucocorticoids. We have developed a novel series of steroidal analogues (VBP compounds) that have been previously shown to maintain anti-inflammatory properties such as NFκB-inhibition without inducing glucocorticoid receptor-mediated gene transcription. This study was undertaken to determine the effectiveness of the lead compound, VBP15, in a mouse model of allergic lung inflammation. We show that VBP15 is as effective as the traditional glucocorticoid, prednisolone, at reducing three major hallmarks of lung inflammation—NFκB activity, leukocyte degranulation, and pro-inflammatory cytokine release from human bronchial epithelial cells obtained from patients with asthma. Moreover, we found that VBP15 is capable of reducing inflammation of the lung in vivo to an extent similar to that of prednisone. We found that prednisolone–but not VBP15 shortens the tibia in mice upon a 5 week treatment regimen suggesting effective dissociation of side effects from efficacy. These findings suggest that VBP15 may represent a potent and safer alternative to traditional glucocorticoids in the treatment of asthma and other inflammatory diseases.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy; Corticosteroids; Glucocorticoids; Dissociative steroids
The dysferlinopathies (e.g. LGMD2b, Myoshi myopathy) are progressive, adult-onset muscle wasting syndromes caused by mutations in the gene coding for dysferlin. Dysferlin is a large (~200 kDa) membrane-anchored protein, required for maintenance of plasmalemmal integrity in muscle fibers. To facilitate analysis of dysferlin function in muscle cells, we have established a dysferlin-deficient myogenic cell line (GREG cells) from the A/J mouse, a genetic model for dysferlinopathy. GREG cells have no detectable dysferlin expression, but proliferate normally in growth medium and fuse into functional myotubes in differentiation medium. GREG myotubes exhibit deficiencies in plasma membrane repair, as measured by laser wounding in the presence of FM1-43 dye. Under the wounding conditions used, the majority (~66%) of GREG myotubes lack membrane repair capacity, while no membrane repair deficiency was observed in dysferlin-normal C2C12 myotubes, assayed under the same conditions. We discuss the possibility that the observed heterogeneity in membrane resealing represents genetic compensation for dysferlin deficiency.
dysferlin; myoblast; myotube; resealing
Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy is an X-linked disorder that affects boys and leads to muscle wasting and death due to cardiac involvement and respiratory complications. The cause is the absence of dystrophin, a large structural protein indispensable for muscle cell function and viability. Neither an effective treatment nor a cure is available at the present time. The mdx mouse has become the standard animal model for pre-clinical evaluation of potential therapeutic treatments. Recent years have seen a rapid increase in the number of experimental compounds being evaluated in the mdx mouse. There is, however, much variability in the design of these pre-clinical experimental studies. This has made it difficult to interpret and compare published data from different laboratories and to evaluate the potential of a treatment for application to patients. The authors therefore propose the introduction of a standard study design for the mdx mouse model. Several aspects, including animal care, sampling times and choice of tissues, as well as recommended endpoints and methodologies are addressed and, for each aspect, a standard procedure is proposed. Testing of all new molecules/drugs using a widely accepted and agreed upon standard experimental protocol would greatly improve the power of pre-clinical experimentations and help identifying promising therapies for the translation into clinical trials for boys with Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.
DMD; mdx; methods; standard operating procedures; pre-clinical experiments
Multinucleated cells are relatively resistant to classical apoptosis, and the factors initiating cell-death and damage in myositis are not well defined. We hypothesized that non-immune autophagic cell death may play a role in muscle fiber damage. Recent literature indicates that tumor necrosis factor-alpha-related apoptosis inducing ligand (TRAIL) may induce both NFκB (nuclear factor kappa-light chain enhancer of activated B cells) activation and autophagic cell death in other systems. Here, we have investigated its role in cell death and pathogenesis in vitro and in vivo using myositis (human and mouse) muscle tissues.
Gene expression profiling indicated that expression of TRAIL and several autophagy markers was specifically upregulated in myositis muscle tissue; these results were confirmed by immunohistochemistry and immunoblotting. We also analyzed TRAIL-induced cell death (apoptosis and autophagy) and NFκB activation in vitro in cultured cells.
TRAIL was expressed predominantly in muscle fibers of myositis, but not in biopsies from normal or other dystrophic-diseased muscle. Autophagy markers were upregulated in human and mouse models of myositis. TRAIL expression was restricted to regenerating/atrophic areas of muscle fascicles, blood vessels, and infiltrating lymphocytes. TRAIL induced NFκB activation and IκB degradation in cultured cells that are resistant to TRAIL-induced apoptosis but undergo autophagic cell death.
Our data demonstrate that TRAIL is expressed in myositis muscle and may mediate both activation of NFκB and autophagic cell death in myositis. Thus, this non-immune pathway may be an attractive target for therapeutic intervention in myositis.
Paired-like homeodomain transcription factor 1 (PITX1) was specifically up-regulated in patients with facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD) by comparing the genome-wide mRNA expression profiles of 12 neuromuscular disorders. In addition, it is the only known direct transcriptional target of the double homeobox protein 4 (DUX4) of which aberrant expression has been shown to be the cause of FSHD. To test the hypothesis that up-regulation of PITX1 contributes to the skeletal muscle atrophy seen in patients with FSHD, we generated a tet-repressible muscle-specific Pitx1 transgenic mouse model in which expression of PITX1 in skeletal muscle can be controlled by oral administration of doxycycline. After PITX1 was over-expressed in the skeletal muscle for 5 weeks, the mice exhibited significant loss of body weight and muscle mass, decreased muscle strength, and reduction of muscle fiber diameters. Among the muscles examined, the tibialis anterior, gastrocnemius, quadricep, bicep, tricep and deltoid showed significant reduction of muscle mass, while the soleus, masseter and diaphragm muscles were not affected. The most prominent pathological change was the development of atrophic muscle fibers with mild necrosis and inflammatory infiltration. The affected myofibers stained heavily with NADH-TR with the strongest staining in angular-shaped atrophic fibers. Some of the atrophic fibers were also positive for embryonic myosin heavy chain using immunohistochemistry. Immunoblotting showed that the p53 was up-regulated in the muscles over-expressing PITX1. The results suggest that the up-regulation of PITX1 followed by activation of p53-dependent pathways may play a major role in the muscle atrophy developed in the mouse model.
D4Z4; Grip strength; Rotarod; Tet-off; Cell death
Idiopathic inflammatory myopathies (IIMs) comprise a group of autoimmune diseases that are characterized by symmetrical skeletal muscle weakness and muscle inflammation with no known cause. Like other autoimmune diseases, IIMs are treated with either glucocorticoids or immunosuppressive drugs. However, many patients with an IIM are frequently resistant to immunosuppressive treatments, and there is compelling evidence to indicate that not only adaptive immune but also several non-immune mechanisms play a role in the pathogenesis of these disorders. Here, we focus on some of the evidence related to pathologic mechanisms, such as the innate immune response, endoplasmic reticulum stress, non-immune consequences of MHC class I overexpression, metabolic disturbances, and hypoxia. These mechanisms may explain how IIM-related pathologic processes can continue even in the face of immunosuppressive therapies. These data indicate that therapeutic strategies in IIMs should be directed at both immune and non-immune mechanisms of muscle damage.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy is a genetic disease involving a severe muscle wasting that is characterized by cycles of muscle degeneration/regeneration and culminates in early death in affected boys. Mitochondria are presumed to be involved in the regulation of myoblast proliferation/differentiation; enhancing mitochondrial activity with exercise mimetics (AMPK and PPAR-delta agonists) increases muscle function and inhibits muscle wasting in healthy mice. We therefore asked whether metabolic remodeling agents that increase mitochondrial activity would improve muscle function in mdx mice.
Twelve-week-old mdx mice were treated with two different metabolic remodeling agents (GW501516 and AICAR), separately or in combination, for 4 weeks. Extensive systematic behavioral, functional, histological, biochemical, and molecular tests were conducted to assess the drug(s)' effects.
We found a gain in body and muscle weight in all treated mice. Histologic examination showed a decrease in muscle inflammation and in the number of fibers with central nuclei and an increase in fibers with peripheral nuclei, with significantly fewer activated satellite cells and regenerating fibers. Together with an inhibition of FoXO1 signaling, these results indicated that the treatments reduced ongoing muscle damage.
The three treatments produced significant improvements in disease phenotype, including an increase in overall behavioral activity and significant gains in forelimb and hind limb strength. Our findings suggest that triggering mitochondrial activity with exercise mimetics improves muscle function in dystrophin-deficient mdx mice.
Duchenne muscular dystrophy; Muscle; AICAR; GW501516; Metabolism