Novel and optimized strategies for inducing fibrosis in vivo: Focus on Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

Patrizia Pessina, Daniel Cabrera, María G. Morales, Cecilia A. Riquelme, Jaime Gutiérrez, Antonio L. Serrano, Enrique Brandan*, Pura Muñoz-Cánoves

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

75 Scopus citations


Background: Fibrosis, an excessive collagen accumulation, results in scar formation, impairing function of vital organs and tissues. Fibrosis is a hallmark of muscular dystrophies, including the lethal Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), which remains incurable. Substitution of muscle by fibrotic tissue also complicates gene/cell therapies for DMD. Yet, no optimal models to study muscle fibrosis are available. In the widely used mdx mouse model for DMD, extensive fibrosis develops in the diaphragm only at advanced adulthood, and at about two years of age in the 'easy-to-access' limb muscles, thus precluding fibrosis research and the testing of novel therapies.Methods: We developed distinct experimental strategies, ranging from chronic exercise to increasing muscle damage on limb muscles of young mdx mice, by myotoxin injection, surgically induced trauma (laceration or denervation) or intramuscular delivery of profibrotic growth factors (such as TGFβ). We also extended these approaches to muscle of normal non-dystrophic mice.Results: These strategies resulted in advanced and enhanced muscle fibrosis in young mdx mice, which persisted over time, and correlated with reduced muscle force, thus mimicking the severe DMD phenotype. Furthermore, increased fibrosis was also obtained by combining these procedures in muscles of normal mice, mirroring aberrant repair after severe trauma.Conclusions: We have developed new and improved experimental strategies to accelerate and enhance muscle fibrosis in vivo. These strategies will allow rapidly assessing fibrosis in the easily accessible limb muscles of young mdx mice, without necessarily having to use old animals. The extension of these fibrogenic regimes to the muscle of non-dystrophic wild-type mice will allow fibrosis assessment in a wide array of pre-existing transgenic mouse lines, which in turn will facilitate understanding the mechanisms of fibrogenesis. These strategies should improve our ability to combat fibrosis-driven dystrophy progression and aberrant regeneration.

Original languageEnglish
Article number7
JournalSkeletal Muscle
Issue number1
StatePublished - 25 Aug 2014
Externally publishedYes

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2014 Pessina et al.; licensee BioMed Central Ltd.


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