Interplay of IKK/NF-kappaB signaling in macrophages and myofibers promotes muscle degeneration in Duchenne muscular dystrophy

J Clin Invest. 2007 Apr;117(4):889-901. doi: 10.1172/JCI30556. Epub 2007 Mar 22.


Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a lethal X-linked disorder associated with dystrophin deficiency that results in chronic inflammation and severe skeletal muscle degeneration. In DMD mouse models and patients, we find that IkappaB kinase/NF-kappaB (IKK/NF-kappaB) signaling is persistently elevated in immune cells and regenerative muscle fibers. Ablation of 1 allele of the p65 subunit of NF-kappaB was sufficient to improve pathology in mdx mice, a model of DMD. In addition, conditional deletion of IKKbeta in mdx mice elucidated that NF-kappaB functions in activated macrophages to promote inflammation and muscle necrosis and in skeletal muscle fibers to limit regeneration through the inhibition of muscle progenitor cells. Furthermore, specific pharmacological inhibition of IKK resulted in improved pathology and muscle function in mdx mice. Collectively, these results underscore the critical role of NF-kappaB in the progression of muscular dystrophy and suggest the IKK/NF-kappaB signaling pathway as a potential therapeutic target for DMD.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Disease Models, Animal
  • Disease Progression
  • Gene Deletion
  • Humans
  • I-kappa B Kinase / metabolism*
  • Macrophages / physiology*
  • Mice
  • Mice, Knockout
  • Muscle Fibers, Skeletal / physiology*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / physiopathology
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / genetics
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / physiopathology*
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / therapy
  • NF-kappa B / physiology*
  • Signal Transduction / physiology*
  • Transcription Factor RelA / genetics


  • NF-kappa B
  • Rela protein, mouse
  • Transcription Factor RelA
  • I-kappa B Kinase
  • Ikbkb protein, mouse