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Am J Pathol. 2008 Jun;172(6):1509-19. doi: 10.2353/ajpath.2008.071009. Epub 2008 May 5.

L-arginine decreases inflammation and modulates the nuclear factor-kappaB/matrix metalloproteinase cascade in mdx muscle fibers.

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  • 1INSERM ERI 25 Muscle et Pathologies, CHU A. de Villeneuve, Université de Montpellier1, EA 4202, 34295 Montpellier Cedex 5, France.


Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a lethal, X-linked disorder associated with dystrophin deficiency that results in chronic inflammation, sarcolemma damage, and severe skeletal muscle degeneration. Recently, the use of L-arginine, the substrate of nitric oxide synthase (nNOS), has been proposed as a pharmacological treatment to attenuate the dystrophic pattern of DMD. However, little is known about signaling events that occur in dystrophic muscle with l-arginine treatment. Considering the implication of inflammation in dystrophic processes, we asked whether L-arginine inhibits inflammatory signaling cascades. We demonstrate that L-arginine decreases inflammation and enhances muscle regeneration in the mdx mouse model. Classic stimulatory signals, such as proinflammatory cytokines interleukin-1beta, interleukin-6, and tumor necrosis factor-alpha, are significantly decreased in mdx mouse muscle, resulting in lower nuclear factor (NF)-kappaB levels and activity. NF-kappaB serves as a pivotal transcription factor with multiple levels of regulation; previous studies have shown perturbation of NF-kappaB signaling in both mdx and DMD muscle. Moreover, L-arginine decreases the activity of metalloproteinase (MMP)-2 and MMP-9, which are transcriptionally activated by NF-kappaB. We show that the inhibitory effect of L-arginine on the NF-kappaB/MMP cascade reduces beta-dystroglycan cleavage and translocates utrophin and nNOS throughout the sarcolemma. Collectively, our results clarify the molecular events by which L-arginine promotes muscle membrane integrity in dystrophic muscle and suggest that NF-kappaB-related signaling cascades could be potential therapeutic targets for DMD management.

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