Necroptosis mediates myofibre death in dystrophin-deficient mice

Nat Commun. 2018 Sep 7;9(1):3655. doi: 10.1038/s41467-018-06057-9.


Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) is a severe degenerative disorder caused by mutations in the dystrophin gene. Dystrophin-deficient muscles are characterised by progressive myofibre necrosis in which inflammation plays a deleterious role. However, the molecular mechanisms underlying inflammation-induced necrosis in muscle cells are unknown. Here we show that necroptosis is a mechanism underlying myofibre death in dystrophin-deficient muscle. RIPK1, RIPK3 and MLKL are upregulated in dystrophic mouse myofibres. In human DMD samples, there is strong immunoreactivity to RIPK3 and phospho-MLKL in myofibres. In vitro, TNFα can elicit necroptosis in C2C12 myoblasts, and RIPK3 overexpression sensitises myoblasts to undergo TNF-induced death. Furthermore, genetic ablation of Ripk3 in mdx mice reduces myofibre degeneration, inflammatory infiltrate, and muscle fibrosis, and eventually improves muscle function. These findings provide the first evidence of necroptotic cell death in a disease affecting skeletal muscle and identify RIPK3 as a key player in the degenerative process in dystrophin-deficient muscles.

Publication types

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

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Dystrophin / deficiency*
  • Humans
  • Mice, Inbred C57BL
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism*
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / metabolism*
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / pathology
  • Myoblasts
  • Necrosis*
  • Receptor-Interacting Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases / metabolism*
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha / metabolism
  • Up-Regulation


  • Dystrophin
  • Tumor Necrosis Factor-alpha
  • Receptor-Interacting Protein Serine-Threonine Kinases
  • Ripk3 protein, mouse