Oxidative damage in muscular dystrophy correlates with the severity of the pathology: role of glutathione metabolism

Neurochem Res. 2012 Apr;37(4):885-98. doi: 10.1007/s11064-011-0683-z. Epub 2012 Jan 5.


Muscular dystrophies (MDs) such as Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD), sarcoglycanopathy (Sgpy) and dysferlinopathy (Dysfy) are recessive genetic neuromuscular diseases that display muscle degeneration. Although these MDs have comparable endpoints of muscle pathology, the onset, severity and the course of these diseases are diverse. Different mechanisms downstream of genetic mutations might underlie the disparity in these pathologies. We surmised that oxidative damage and altered antioxidant function might contribute to these differences. The oxidant and antioxidant markers in the muscle biopsies from patients with DMD (n = 15), Sgpy (n = 15) and Dysfy (n = 15) were compared to controls (n = 10). Protein oxidation and lipid peroxidation was evident in all MDs and correlated with the severity of pathology, with DMD, the most severe dystrophic condition showing maximum damage, followed by Sgpy and Dysfy. Oxidative damage in DMD and Sgpy was attributed to the depletion of glutathione (GSH) and lowered antioxidant activities while loss of GSH peroxidase and GSH-S-transferase activities was observed in Dysfy. Lower GSH level in DMD was due to lowered activity of gamma-glutamyl cysteine ligase, the rate limiting enzyme in GSH synthesis. Similar analysis in cardiotoxin (CTX) mouse model of MD showed that the dystrophic muscle pathology correlated with GSH depletion and lipid peroxidation. Depletion of GSH prior to CTX exposure in C2C12 myoblasts exacerbated oxidative damage and myotoxicity. We deduce that the pro and anti-oxidant mechanisms could be correlated to the severity of MD and might influence the dystrophic pathology to a different extent in various MDs. On a therapeutic note, this could help in evolving novel therapies that offer myoprotection in MD.

Publication types

  • Comparative Study
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Animals
  • Cell Line
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Female
  • Glutathione / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Mice
  • Muscular Dystrophies / metabolism*
  • Muscular Dystrophies / pathology*
  • Oxidation-Reduction
  • Oxidative Stress / physiology*
  • Severity of Illness Index*
  • Young Adult


  • Glutathione