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Nat Med. 2005 Jun;11(6):672-7. Epub 2005 May 1.

Doxycycline attenuates and delays toxicity of the oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy mutation in transgenic mice.

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  • 1Department of Medical Genetics, Cambridge Institute for Medical Research, Wellcome/MRC Building, Addenbrooke's Hospital, Hills Road, Cambridge CB2 2XY, UK.


The muscular dystrophies are a heterogeneous group of disorders for which there are currently no cures. Oculopharyngeal muscular dystrophy (OPMD) is an autosomal dominant late-onset, progressive disease that generally presents in the fifth or sixth decade with dysphagia, ptosis and proximal limb weakness. OPMD is caused by the abnormal expansion of a (GCG)n trinucleotide repeat in the coding region of the poly-(A) binding protein nuclear 1 (PABPN1) gene. In unaffected individuals, (GCG)6 codes for the first six alanines in a homopolymeric stretch of ten alanines. In most individuals with OPMD this (GCG)6 repeat is expanded to (GCG)8-13, leading to a stretch of 12-17 alanines in mutant PABPN1. PABPN1 with an expanded polyalanine tract forms aggregates consisting of tubular filaments within the nuclei of skeletal muscle fibers. We have developed a transgenic mouse model of OPMD that manifests progressive muscle weakness accompanied by intranuclear aggregates and TUNEL-stained nuclei in skeletal muscle fibers. The onset and severity of these abnormalities were substantially delayed and attenuated by doxycycline treatment, which may exert its therapeutic effect by reducing aggregates and by distinct antiapoptotic properties. Doxycycline may represent a safe and feasible therapeutic for this disease.

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