Pathological Issues in Dystrophinopathy in the Age of Genetic Therapies

Annu Rev Pathol. 2019 Jan 24;14:105-126. doi: 10.1146/annurev-pathmechdis-012418-012945. Epub 2018 Aug 27.


Dystrophinopathy is a class of genetic skeletal muscle disease characterized by myofiber degeneration and regeneration due to insufficient levels or functioning of dystrophin. Pathological evaluation for dystrophinopathy includes the identification of dystrophic skeletal muscle pathology and the immunohistochemical evaluation of dystrophin epitopes, but biopsies have become rare in recent years. However, the evaluation of dystrophin expression in the research setting has become critically important due to recent advances in genetic therapies, including exon skipping and gene therapy. Given the number of these therapies under evaluation in patients, it is likely that the traditional methods of evaluating dystrophinopathy will need to evolve in the near future. This review discusses current muscle biopsy diagnostic practices in dystrophinopathy and further focuses on how these practices have evolved in the context of therapeutic interventions for dystrophinopathy.

Keywords: exon skipping; gene therapy; immunohistochemistry; microdystrophin; muscular dystrophy; skeletal muscle.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy
  • Dystrophin / genetics
  • Dystrophin / metabolism*
  • Genetic Therapy / methods
  • Humans
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology*
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne* / diagnosis
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne* / genetics
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne* / therapy
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense / therapeutic use


  • Dystrophin
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense