Exercise increases utrophin protein expression in the mdx mouse model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy


  • This project was supported by NIH grants K02-AG036827 (DAL) and P30-AR0507220 (University of Minnesota Muscular Dystrophy Center).


Introduction: Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a lethal genetic disease caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene resulting in chronic muscle damage, muscle wasting, and premature death. Utrophin is a dystrophin protein homologue that increases dystrophic muscle function and reduces pathology. Currently, no treatments that increase utrophin protein expression exist. However, exercise increases utrophin mRNA expression in healthy humans. Therefore, the purpose was to determine whether exercise increases utrophin protein expression in dystrophic muscle. Methods: Utrophin protein was measured in the quadriceps and soleus muscles of mdx mice after 12 weeks of voluntary wheel running exercise or sedentary controls. Muscle pathology was measured in the quadriceps. Results: Exercise increased utrophin protein expression 334 ± 63% in the quadriceps relative to sedentary controls. Exercise increased central nuclei 4 ± 1% but not other measures of pathology. Conclusions: Exercise may be an intervention that increases utrophin expression in patients with DMD. Muscle Nerve 49: 915–918, 2014