Low human dystrophin levels prevent cardiac electrophysiological and structural remodelling in a Duchenne mouse model

Gerard A. Marchal, Maaike van Putten, Arie O. Verkerk, Simona Casini, Kayleigh Putker, Shirley C. M. van Amersfoorth, Annemieke Aartsma-Rus, Elisabeth M. Lodder, Carol Ann Remme

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Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a progressive neuromuscular disorder caused by loss of dystrophin. This lack also affects cardiac structure and function, and cardiovascular complications are a major cause of death in DMD. Newly developed therapies partially restore dystrophin expression. It is unclear whether this will be sufficient to prevent or ameliorate cardiac involvement in DMD. We here establish the cardiac electrophysiological and structural phenotype in young (2–3 months) and aged (6–13 months) dystrophin-deficient mdx mice expressing 100% human dystrophin (hDMD), 0% human dystrophin (hDMDdel52-null) or low levels (~ 5%) of human dystrophin (hDMDdel52-low). Compared to hDMD, young and aged hDMDdel52-null mice displayed conduction slowing and repolarisation abnormalities, while only aged hDMDdel52-null mice displayed increased myocardial fibrosis. Moreover, ventricular cardiomyocytes from young hDMDdel52-null animals displayed decreased sodium current and action potential (AP) upstroke velocity, and prolonged AP duration at 20% and 50% of repolarisation. Hence, cardiac electrical remodelling in hDMDdel52-null mice preceded development of structural alterations. In contrast to hDMDdel52-null, hDMDdel52-low mice showed similar electrophysiological and structural characteristics as hDMD, indicating prevention of the cardiac DMD phenotype by low levels of human dystrophin. Our findings are potentially relevant for the development of therapeutic strategies aimed at restoring dystrophin expression in DMD.
Original languageEnglish
Article number9779
JournalScientific reports
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 1 Dec 2021

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