Cardiac Protection after Systemic Transplant of Dystrophin Expressing Chimeric (DEC) Cells to the mdx Mouse Model of Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy.Stem Cell Rev Rep. 2019 12; 15(6):827-841.SC
Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy (DMD) is a progressive lethal disease caused by X-linked mutations of the dystrophin gene. Dystrophin deficiency clinically manifests as skeletal and cardiac muscle weakness, leading to muscle wasting and premature death due to cardiac and respiratory failure. Currently, no cure exists. Since heart disease is becoming a leading cause of death in DMD patients, there is an urgent need to develop new more effective therapeutic strategies for protection and improvement of cardiac function. We previously reported functional improvements correlating with dystrophin restoration following transplantation of Dystrophin Expressing Chimeric Cells (DEC) of myoblast origin in the mdx and mdx/scid mouse models. Here, we confirm positive effect of DEC of myoblast (MBwt/MBmdx) and mesenchymal stem cells (MBwt/MSCmdx) origin on protection of cardiac function after systemic DEC transplant. Therapeutic effect of DEC transplant (0.5 × 106) was assessed by echocardiography at 30 and 90 days after systemic-intraosseous injection to the mdx mice. At 90 days post-transplant, dystrophin expression in cardiac muscles of DEC injected mice significantly increased (15.73% ± 5.70 -MBwt/MBmdx and 5.22% ± 1.10 - MBwt/MSCmdx DEC) when compared to vehicle injected controls (2.01% ± 1.36) and, correlated with improved ejection fraction and fractional shortening on echocardiography. DEC lines of MB and MSC origin introduce a new promising approach based on the combined effects of normal myoblasts with dystrophin delivery capacities and MSC with immunomodulatory properties. Our study confirms feasibility and efficacy of DEC therapy on cardiac function and represents a novel therapeutic strategy for cardiac protection and muscle regeneration in DMD.