Cardiac Pathophysiology and the Future of Cardiac Therapies in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy

Meyers TA, Townsend D. Cardiac Pathophysiology and the Future of Cardiac Therapies in Duchenne Muscular Dystrophy. International journal of molecular sciences 2019;20


Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a devastating disease featuring skeletal muscle wasting, respiratory insufficiency, and cardiomyopathy. Historically, respiratory failure has been the leading cause of mortality in DMD, but recent improvements in symptomatic respiratory management have extended the life expectancy of DMD patients. With increased longevity, the clinical relevance of heart disease in DMD is growing, as virtually all DMD patients over 18 year of age display signs of cardiomyopathy. This review will focus on the pathophysiological basis of DMD in the heart and discuss the therapeutic approaches currently in use and those in development to treat dystrophic cardiomyopathy. The first section will describe the aspects of the DMD that result in the loss of cardiac tissue and accumulation of fibrosis. The second section will discuss cardiac small molecule therapies currently used to treat heart disease in DMD, with a focus on the evidence supporting the use of each drug in dystrophic patients. The final section will outline the strengths and limitations of approaches directed at correcting the genetic defect through dystrophin gene replacement, modification, or repair. There are several new and promising therapeutic approaches that may protect the dystrophic heart, but their limitations suggest that future management of dystrophic cardiomyopathy may benefit from combining gene-targeted therapies with small molecule therapies. Understanding the mechanistic basis of dystrophic heart disease and the effects of current and emerging therapies will be critical for their success in the treatment of patients with DMD.

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