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Gene Ther. 2010 Nov;17(11):1355-62. doi: 10.1038/gt.2010.84. Epub 2010 Jun 10.

Improvement of the mdx mouse dystrophic phenotype by systemic in utero AAV8 delivery of a minidystrophin gene.

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Department of Neurology, University of Pittsburgh School of Medicine, Pittsburgh, PA 15213, USA.


Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a devastating primary muscle disease with pathological changes in skeletal muscle that are ongoing at the time of birth. Progressive deterioration in striated muscle function in affected individuals ultimately results in early death due to cardio-pulmonary failure. As affected individuals can be identified before birth by prenatal genetic testing for DMD, gene replacement treatment can be started in utero. This approach offers the possibility of preventing pathological changes in muscle that begin early in life. To test in utero gene transfer in the mdx mouse model of DMD, a minidystrophin gene driven by the human cytomegalovirus promoter was delivered systemically by an intraperitoneal injection to the fetus at embryonic day 16. Treated mdx mice studied at 9 weeks after birth showed widespread expression of recombinant dystrophin in skeletal muscle, restoration of the dystrophin-associated glycoprotein complex in dystrophin-expressing muscle fibers, improved muscle pathology, and functional benefit to the transduced diaphragm compared with untreated littermate controls. These results support the potential of the AAV8 vector to efficiently cross the blood vessel barrier to achieve systemic gene transfer to skeletal muscle in utero in a mouse model of muscular dystrophy, to significantly improve the dystrophic phenotype and to ameliorate the processes that lead to exhaustion of the skeletal muscle regenerative capacity.

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