A scalable, clinically severe pig model for Duchenne muscular dystrophy

Dis Model Mech. 2021 Dec 1;14(12):dmm049285. doi: 10.1242/dmm.049285. Epub 2021 Dec 16.


Large-animal models for Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD) are crucial for the evaluation of diagnostic procedures and treatment strategies. Pigs cloned from male cells lacking DMD exon 52 (DMDΔ52) exhibit molecular, clinical and pathological hallmarks of DMD, but die before sexual maturity and cannot be propagated by breeding. Therefore, we generated female DMD+/- carriers. A single founder animal had 11 litters with 29 DMDY/-, 34 DMD+/- as well as 36 male and 29 female wild-type offspring. Breeding with F1 and F2 DMD+/- carriers resulted in an additional 114 DMDY/- piglets. With intensive neonatal management, the majority survived for 3-4 months, providing statistically relevant cohorts for experimental studies. Pathological investigations and proteome studies of skeletal muscles and myocardium confirmed the resemblance to human disease mechanisms. Importantly, DMDY/- pigs displayed progressive myocardial fibrosis and increased expression of connexin-43, associated with significantly reduced left ventricular ejection fraction, at 3 months. Furthermore, behavioral tests provided evidence for impaired cognitive ability. Our breeding cohort of DMDΔ52 pigs and standardized tissue repositories provide important resources for studying DMD disease mechanisms and for testing novel treatment strategies.

Keywords: Biobank; Carrier; Duchenne muscular dystrophy; Pathology; Pig model; Proteomics.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Animals
  • Cardiomyopathies* / pathology
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Male
  • Muscle, Skeletal / pathology
  • Muscular Dystrophy, Duchenne* / pathology
  • Stroke Volume
  • Swine
  • Ventricular Function, Left