Reducing CTGF/CCN2 slows down mdx muscle dystrophy and improves cell therapy

Maria Gabriela Morales*, Jaime Gutierrez, Claudio Cabello-Verrugio, Daniel Cabrera, Kenneth E. Lipson, Roel Goldschmeding, Enrique Brandan

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

116 Scopus citations


In Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) and the mdx mouse model, the absence of the cytoskeletal protein dystrophin causes defective anchoring of myofibres to the basal lamina. The resultant myofibre degeneration and necrosis lead to a progressive loss of muscle mass, increased fibrosis and ultimately fatal weakness. Connective tissue growth factor (CTGF/CCN-2) is critically involved in several chronic fibro-degenerative diseases. In DMD, the role of CTGF might extend well beyond replacement fibrosis secondary to loss of muscle fibres, since its overexpression in skeletal muscle could by itself induce a dystrophic phenotype. Using two independent approaches, we here show that mdx mice with reduced CTGF availability do indeed have less severe muscular dystrophy. Mdx mice with hemizygous CTGF deletion (mdx-Ctgf+/-), and mdx mice treated with a neutralizing anti-CTGF monoclonal antibody (FG-3019), performed better in an exercise endurance test, had better muscle strength in isolated muscles and reduced skeletal muscle impairment, apoptotic damage and fibrosis. Transforming growth factor type-β (TGF-β), pERK1/2 and p38 signalling remained unaffected during CTGF suppression. Moreover, both mdx-Ctgf+/- and FG-3019 treated mdx mice had improved grafting upon intramuscular injection of dystrophin-positive satellite cells. These findings reveal the potential of targeting CTGF to reduce disease progression and to improve cell therapy in DMD.

Original languageEnglish
Article numberddt352
Pages (from-to)4938-4951
Number of pages14
JournalHuman Molecular Genetics
Issue number24
StatePublished - Dec 2013
Externally publishedYes


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