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.
Katie K. Maguire, Leland Lim, Sedona Speedy, Thomas A. Rando
The expression of luciferase in resting and injured muscle in