Hereditary muscular dystrophy in chickens of the New Hampshire strain was treated with penicillamine from the 9th day after hatching to the 425th day. The adult maintenance dose for males was 50 mg/kg per day and for females, 13-65 mg/kg per day. In avian dystrophy, deterioration of the muscle fibers is evidenced in the 2nd mo by an inability of the birds to rise after falling on their backs and by a progressive rigidity of the wings. The drug delayed the onset of symptoms and partially alleviated the debilitating aspects of the disease. Penicillamine produced three major improvements: (a) better righting ability when birds were placed on their backs; (b) greater wing flexibility; (c) and suppression of plasma creatine phosphokinase activity. The results are statistically analyzed and discussed in relationship to Duchenne dystrophy. Normal birds were not affected by penicillamine as judged by these parameters. The rationale for using penicillamine, a sulfhydryl compound with reducing properties, was (a) to attempt to protect essential thiol enzymes in the anabolic and glycolytic pathways against inactivation and (b) to prevent collagen cross-linking and deposition in muscle. Although the precise mechanism of drug action has not been determined. the possible role of penicillamine in mitigating the symptoms of genetic dystrophy in man is under consideration. Further, penicillamine may have a more generalized application i the prevention of contractures in a variety of neuromuscular disorders.
T Chou, E J Hill, E Bartle, K Woolley, V LeQuire, W Olson, R Roelofs, J H Park