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Acta Myol. 2003 May;22(1):15-21.

Gentamicin administration in Duchenne patients with premature stop codon. Preliminary results.

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Department of Clinical and Experimental Medicine and Surgery, Section of Cardiomyology and Medical Genetics, 2nd University of Naples, Italy.


Aim of the study was to investigate whether the administration of gentamicin could restore dystrophin expression in striated muscles of patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy caused by premature stop codon, as reported in mdx mice. Four Duchenne patients, still ambulant or in wheelchair stage for less than 4 months, selected among those with point mutations resulting in premature stop codons, received two 6-day cycles of gentamicin sulfate, at an interval of 7 weeks, according to the protocol approved by the Ethics Committee of the Second University of Naples. A muscle biopsy was performed after the second cycle of administration; the specimens were analysed by both immuno-histochemistry and Western blotting. Skeletal muscle changes were monitored by dynamic tests and Creatine Kinase values; at the beginning and end of treatment, cardiac and respiratory status was evaluated by electrocardiography, echocardiography, acoustic densitometry and vital capacity. Side-effects such as nephrotoxicity and ototoxicity were also monitored. Three out of four patients, who had the most permissive UGA as stop codon, showed positive results. In one patient, there was a dramatic re-expression of dystrophin by both immuno-histochemistry and Western blot; in two patients, dystrophin positive fibres were seen by the antibody to the rod domain with immuno-histochemistry; the fourth patient, with UAA as stop codon, showed no expression of dystrophin at all. These results suggest that gentamicin is able to recover dystrophin expression in a subset of Duchenne patients with nonsense mutations, raising the possibility of the first pharmacological treatment for muscular dystrophy.

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