Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is caused by defects in the dystrophin gene. In young dystrophic mdx mice, immature regenerating myofibers represent the principal substrate for adenovirus vector (AdV)-mediated dystrophin gene transfer. However, in DMD patients immature regenerating myofibers are generally sparse. Such a situation also exists in old mdx mice, which may represent a more realistic model. Therefore, here we have used old mdx mice (of 14- to 17 months of age) to test the hypothesis that one-time administration of a myonecrotic agent can transiently re-establish a population of immature myofibers susceptible to AdV-mediated dystrophin gene transfer. This strategy led to upregulation of the coxsackie/adenovirus attachment receptor by means of induction of regenerating myofibers, significantly augmented AdV-mediated dystrophin gene expression, and enhanced force-generating capacity. In addition, it led to an increased resistance to contraction-induced injury compared with untreated controls. The latter protective effect was positively correlated with the number of dystrophin-expressing myofibers (r = 0.83, P < 0.05). Accordingly, the risk:benefit ratio associated with the sequential use of forced myofiber regeneration and AdV-mediated dystrophin gene transfer was favorable in old mdx mice despite advanced disease. These findings have implications for the potential applicability of AdV-mediated gene therapy to DMD and other muscle diseases in which immature regenerating myofibers are lacking.
- Coxsackie and adenovirus receptor
- Duchenne muscular dystrophy
- Gene therapy
- Muscle function
- Muscle repair