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Long-Term Systemic Treatment of a Mouse Model Displaying Chronic FSHD-like Pathology with Antisense Therapeutics That Inhibit DUX4 Expression

Lu-Nguyen N, Dickson G, Malerba A, Popplewell L
Biomedicines. 2022 Jul 7;10(7):1623. doi: 10.3390/biomedicines10071623
Silencing the expression of the double homeobox 4 (DUX4) gene offers great potential for the treatment of facioscapulohumeral muscular dystrophy (FSHD). Several research groups have recently reported promising results using systemic antisense therapy in a transgenic small animal model of FSHD, the ACTA1-MCM/FLExDUX4 mouse model. However, the treatment was applied in non-DUX4-induced mice or shortly after DUX4 activation, which resulted in conditions that do not correctly represent the situation in a clinic. Here, we generated progressive FSHD-like pathology in ACTA1-MCM/FLExDUX4 mice and then treated the animals with vivoPMO-PACS4, an antisense compound that efficiently downregulates DUX4. To best mimic the translation of this treatment in clinical settings, the systemic antisense oligonucleotide administration was delayed to 3 weeks after the DUX4 activation so that the pathology was established at the time of the treatment. The chronic administration of vivoPMO-PACS4 for 8 weeks downregulated the DUX4 expression by 60%. Consequently, the treated mice showed an increase by 18% in body-wide muscle mass and 32% in muscle strength, and a reduction in both myofiber central nucleation and muscle fibrosis by up to 29% and 37%, respectively. Our results in a more suitable model of FSHD pathology confirm the efficacy of vivoPMO-PACS4 administration, and highlight the significant benefit provided by the long-term treatment of the disease.
Not Epub
Organism or Cell Type: 
Delivery Method: 
Vivo-Morpholino i.p. injection