To identify serum biomarkers that allow monitoring of disease progression and treatment effects in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) patients, levels of matrix metalloproteinase-9 (MMP-9), tissue inhibitors of metalloproteinase-1 (TIMP-1) and osteopontin (OPN) were determined in 63 DMD patients on corticosteroid therapy. These proteins were selected for their role in the pathogenesis of muscular dystrophy. Levels of MMP-9 and TIMP-1 were significantly higher in sera of DMD patients compared to healthy controls, whereas the OPN levels showed no significant difference. MMP-9 levels were also observed to be significantly higher in older, nonambulant patients, compared to ambulant patients. Longitudinal data from a smaller cohort of DMD patients followed up for over 4years showed that MMP-9, but not TIMP-1 increased significantly with age. Hence, MMP-9 is a potential DMD biomarker for disease progression. Future studies have to confirm whether serum MMP-9 levels can be used to monitor therapeutic response.
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