Dystrophin deficiency causes contraction-induced injury and damage to the muscle fiber, resulting in sustained increase in intracellular calcium levels, activation of calcium-dependent proteases and cell death. It is known that the Ryanodine receptor (RyR1) on the sarcoplasmic reticular (SR) membrane controls calcium release. Dantrolene, an FDA approved skeletal muscle relaxant, inhibits the release of calcium from the SR during excitation-contraction and suppresses uncontrolled calcium release by directly acting on the RyR complex to limit its activation. This study examines whether Dantrolene can reduce the disease phenotype in the mdx mouse model of muscular dystrophy. We treated mdx mice (4 weeks old) with daily intraperitoneal injections of 40mg/kg of Dantrolene for 6 weeks and measured functional (grip strength, in vitro force contractions), behavioral (open field digiscan), imagining (optical imaging for inflammation), histological (H&E), and molecular (protein and RNA) endpoints in a blinded fashion. We found that treatment with Dantrolene resulted in decreased grip strength and open field behavioral activity in mdx mice. There was no significant difference in inflammation either by optical imaging analysis of cathepsin activity or histological (H&E) analysis. In vitro force contraction measures showed no changes in EDL muscle-specific force, lengthening-contraction force deficit, or fatigue resistance. We found Dantrolene treatment significantly reduces serum CK levels. Further, Dantrolene-treated mice showed decreased SERCA1 but not RyR1 expression in skeletal muscle. These results suggest that Dantrolene treatment alone has no significant beneficial effects at the tested doses in young mdx mice.
Background: Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is an inherited X-linked disorder with an incidence of 1 in 3,500 male births. Early treatment of DMD cardiomyopathy is under investigation and echocardiographic analysis of strain patterns may provide measures to better quantify early treatment outcomes.
Methods: We compared cardiac function in 3, 9 and 12 month old dystrophin deficient mdx mice to wild type (C57BL10/J) using in vivo high frequency echocardiography (Vevo 770, VisualSonics, Inc., Toronto, CA) and 2D speckle tracking [Velocity Vector Imaging (VVI), Siemens Medical Solutions, Inc., Malvern, PA]. Mice were anesthetized with 1-2% inhaled isoflurane and images were obtained using a 30 MHz transducer in modified parasternal long and short axis views obtained at the level of the papillary muscles. Myocardial motion was analyzed using VVI in single-beat reconstructed images.
Results: M-mode imaging showed significantly decreased shortening fraction in mdx mice compared to wild type at 12 months of age (SF% 26.6±3 vs. 32.2±2; p=0.002). Mdx mice showed significantly increased cardiac fibrosis at 12 months of age compared to controls (p<0.0001). Speckle tracking analysis of the left anterior mid ventricular wall segment showed significantly decreased relative radial strain in mdx mice at 9 and 12 months (4.5±1.3% vs. 8.4±0.7%; p=0.001). There were no significant differences in circumferential or longitudinal strain.
Conclusion: Mdx mice show significantly decreased LV anterior mid wall radial strain with mild cardiomyopathy after 9 months of age compared to wild type. Speckle tracking analysis may provide novel outcome measures for preclinical cardiac drug treatment studies in DMD.