Disease course in mdx:Utrophin+/− mice: comparison of three mouse models of duchenne muscular dystrophy

Abby A. McDonald, Sadie L. Hebert, Matthew D. Kunz, Steven J. Ralles, Linda K. McLoon

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40 Scopus citations


The mdx mouse model of Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is used to study disease mechanisms and potential treatments, but its pathology is less severe than DMD patients. Other mouse models were developed to more closely mimic the human disease based on knowledge that upregulation of utrophin has a protective effect in mdx muscle. An mdx:utrophin−/− (dko) mouse was created, which had a severe disease phenotype and a shortened life span. An mdx:utrophin+/‒ mouse was also created, which had an intermediate disease phenotype compared to the mdx and dko mice. To determine the usefulness of mdx:utrophin+/‒ mice for long-term DMD studies, limb muscle pathology and function were assessed across the life span of wild-type, mdx, mdx:utrophin+/‒, and dko mice. Muscle function assessment, specifically grip duration and rotarod performance, demonstrated that mdx:utrophin+/‒ mice were weaker for a longer time than mdx mice. Mean myofiber area was smaller in mdx:utrophin+/‒ mice compared to mdx mice at 12 months. Mdx: utrophin+/‒ mice had a higher percentage of centrally nucleated myofibers compared to mdx mice at 6 and 12 months. Collagen I and IV density was significantly higher in mdx:utrophin+/‒ muscle compared to mdx at most ages examined. Generally, mdx:utrophin+/‒ mice showed an intermediate disease phenotype over a longer time course compared to the mdx and dko mice. While they do not genetically mirror human DMD, mdx:utrophin+/‒ mice may be a more useful animal model than mdx or dko mice for investigating long-term efficacy of potential treatments when fibrosis or muscle function is the focus.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Article numbere12391
JournalPhysiological Reports
Issue number4
StatePublished - 2015

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
Supported by the National Institutes of Health EY55137 (LKM) and EY11375 from the National Eye Institute, T32EY007133 (AAM), the National Institutes of Health P30-AR0507220, the 3M Science & Technology Fellowship (AAM), the Minnesota Medical Foundation, the Minnesota Lions and Lionesses, and an unrestricted grant to the Department of Ophthalmology and Visual Neurosciences from Research to Prevent Blindness, Inc.

Publisher Copyright:
© 2015 The Authors.


  • Collagen
  • Dystrophin
  • Fibrosis
  • Mouse models
  • Muscle disease
  • Muscle function
  • Muscular dystrophy
  • Skeletal muscle
  • Utrophin


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