The administration of antisense oligonucleotide golodirsen reduces pathological regeneration in patients with Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Acta Neuropathol Commun. 2021 Jan 6;9(1):7. doi: 10.1186/s40478-020-01106-1.


During the last decade, multiple clinical trials for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) have focused on the induction of dystrophin expression using different strategies. Many of these trials have reported a clear increase in dystrophin protein following treatment. However, the low levels of the induced dystrophin protein have raised questions on its functionality. In our present study, using an unbiased, high-throughput digital image analysis platform, we assessed markers of regeneration and levels of dystrophin associated protein via immunofluorescent analysis of whole muscle sections in 25 DMD boys who received 48-weeks treatment with exon 53 skipping morpholino antisense oligonucleotide (PMO) golodirsen. We demonstrate that the de novo dystrophin induced by exon skipping with PMO golodirsen is capable of conferring a histological benefit in treated patients with an increase in dystrophin associated proteins at the dystrophin positive regions of the sarcolemma in post-treatment biopsies. Although 48 weeks treatment with golodirsen did not result in a significant change in the levels of fetal/developmental myosins for the entire cohort, there was a significant negative correlation between the amount of dystrophin and levels of regeneration observed in different biopsy samples. Our results provide, for the first time, evidence of functionality of induced dystrophin following successful therapeutic intervention in the human.

Keywords: Clinical trial; Dystrophin; Genetic therapies; Golodirsen; Immunofluorescence; Muscular dystrophy.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Biopsy
  • Child
  • Dystroglycans / metabolism
  • Dystrophin / genetics
  • Dystrophin / metabolism*
  • Humans
  • Laminin / metabolism
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / metabolism
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology*
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / metabolism
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / pathology
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / physiopathology
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne / therapy*
  • Myosins / metabolism
  • Oligonucleotides / therapeutic use*
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense / therapeutic use*
  • Regeneration*
  • Sarcoglycans / metabolism
  • Sarcolemma / metabolism
  • Sarcolemma / pathology
  • Treatment Outcome


  • DAG1 protein, human
  • Dystrophin
  • Laminin
  • Oligonucleotides
  • Oligonucleotides, Antisense
  • Sarcoglycans
  • laminin alpha 2
  • golodirsen
  • Dystroglycans
  • Myosins