Assessment of disease activity in muscular dystrophies by noninvasive imaging

The Journal of clinical investigation (Impact Factor: 13.77). 04/2013; 123(5). DOI: 10.1172/JCI68458
Source: PubMed

ABSTRACT Muscular dystrophies are a class of disorders that cause progressive muscle wasting. A major hurdle for discovering treatments for the muscular dystrophies is a lack of reliable assays to monitor disease progression in animal models. We have developed a novel mouse model to assess disease activity noninvasively in mice with muscular dystrophies. These mice express an inducible luciferase reporter gene in muscle stem cells. In dystrophic mice, muscle stem cells activate and proliferate in response to muscle degeneration, resulting in an increase in the level of luciferase expression, which can be monitored by noninvasive, bioluminescence imaging. We applied this noninvasive imaging to assess disease activity in a mouse model of the human disease limb girdle muscular dystrophy 2B (LGMD2B), caused by a mutation in the dysferlin gene. We monitored the natural history and disease progression in these dysferlin-deficient mice up to 18 months of age and were able to detect disease activity prior to the appearance of any overt disease manifestation by histopathological analyses. Disease activity was reflected by changes in luciferase activity over time, and disease burden was reflected by cumulative luciferase activity, which paralleled disease progression as determined by histopathological analysis. The ability to monitor disease activity noninvasively in mouse models of muscular dystrophy will be invaluable for the assessment of disease progression and the effectiveness of therapeutic interventions.

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    ABSTRACT: Muscular dystrophies are characterized by progressive muscle weakness and wasting. Among the key obstacles to the development of therapies is the absence of an assay to monitor disease progression in live animals. In this issue of the JCI, Maguire and colleagues use noninvasive bioluminescence imaging to monitor luciferase activity in mice expressing an inducible luciferase reporter gene in satellite cells. These cells proliferate in response to degeneration, therefore increasing the level of luciferase expression in dystrophic muscle.
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