Inflammation-induced fibrosis in skeletal muscle of female carriers of Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Neuromuscul Disord. 2019 Jul;29(7):487-496. doi: 10.1016/j.nmd.2019.05.003. Epub 2019 May 10.


Female carriers of DMD gene mutations may be symptomatic and show variable skeletal as well as cardiac muscle symptoms. Skeletal muscle can exhibit morphological alterations. However, inflammatory, degenerative and fibrotic changes as seen in Duchenne boys have not been specifically analysed yet, so we addressed the question whether skeletal muscle of female carriers show such alterations. Thirteen carriers with an age range of 3 to 50 years were studied retrospectively. Five out of 13 women had clinically affected relatives. Clinically, most women showed mild muscle weakness, while the CK levels were increased in nine of them. Histomorphological analyses highlighted the typical mosaic pattern of dystrophin-positive and -negative fibres. Regenerating fibres were diffusely scattered and focally pronounced, while endo- and perimysial fibrosis was a variable but constant feature. Infiltration of CD206+TGFß+ macrophages and scattered T cells was noted in the endomysium. TGFb and CCL18, were significantly increased. However, gene expression of markers involved in Th1/Th2 immunity did not reach statistical significance compared to non-diseased controls. In summary, skeletal muscle of clinically manifest female DMD gene mutation carriers shows mild fibrosis and increased regeneration associated with endomysial CD206+TGFβ+ and STAT6+ macrophages, which are most likely involved in fibrotic remodelling.

Keywords: DMD gene; Dystrophin protein; Female carriers; Fibrosis; Inflammation, TGFβ.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Adult
  • Child
  • Child, Preschool
  • Creatine Kinase / metabolism
  • Dystrophin / metabolism
  • Female
  • Fibrosis
  • Heterozygote*
  • Humans
  • Inflammation / genetics*
  • Inflammation / pathology*
  • Macrophages / pathology
  • Middle Aged
  • Muscle Weakness / etiology
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology*
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / genetics*
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / immunology
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / pathology*
  • Regeneration
  • Retrospective Studies
  • T-Lymphocytes / pathology
  • Young Adult


  • DMD protein, human
  • Dystrophin
  • Creatine Kinase