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Circulation. 2003 Sep 30;108(13):1626-32. Epub 2003 Sep 2.

Microdystrophin gene therapy of cardiomyopathy restores dystrophin-glycoprotein complex and improves sarcolemma integrity in the mdx mouse heart.

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Department of Molecular Microbiology and Immunology, University of Missouri School of Medicine, Columbia, Mo 65212, USA.



More than 90% of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) patients develop cardiomyopathy, and many die of cardiac failure. Despite tremendous progress in skeletal muscle gene therapy, few attempts have been made to treat cardiomyopathy. Microdystrophin genes are shown to correct skeletal muscle pathological lesions in the mdx mouse model for DMD. Here, we tested the therapeutic potential of adeno-associated virus (AAV)-mediated microdystrophin gene therapy in the mdx mouse heart.


AAV was delivered to the newborn mdx mouse cardiac cavity. The procedure was rapid and well tolerated. Efficient expression was achieved in the inner and the outer layers of the myocardium. The ubiquitous cytomegalovirus promoter resulted in substantially higher expression than the muscle-specific CK6 promoter. The therapeutic effects of microdystrophin were evaluated at 10 months after infection. Immunostaining demonstrated extensive microdystrophin expression and successful restoration of the dystrophin-glycoprotein complex. Importantly, AAV-mediated microdystrophin expression improved the sarcolemma integrity in the mdx heart.


We established a simple gene transfer method for efficient and persistent transduction of the mdx mouse heart. AAV-mediated microdystrophin expression restored the critical dystrophin-glycoprotein complex and improved sarcolemma integrity of the mdx heart. Our results revealed the promise of AAV-microdystrophin gene therapy for cardiomyopathy in DMD.

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