Proof-of-concept validation of the mechanism of action of Src tyrosine kinase inhibitors in dystrophic mdx mouse muscle: in vivo and in vitro studies.


Department of Pharmacy - Drug Sciences, University of Bari "Aldo Moro", 70121 Bari, Italy. Electronic address: [Email]


Src tyrosine kinase (TK), a redox-sensitive protein overexpressed in dystrophin-deficient muscles, can contribute to damaging signaling by phosphorylation and degradation of β-dystroglycan (β-DG). We performed a proof-of-concept preclinical study to validate this hypothesis and the benefit-safety ratio of a pharmacological inhibition of Src-TK in Duchenne muscular dystrophy (DMD). Src-TK inhibitors PP2 and dasatinib were administered for 5 weeks to treadmill-exercised mdx mice. The outcome was evaluated in vivo and ex vivo on functional, histological and biochemical disease-related parameters. Considering the importance to maintain a proper myogenic program, the potential cytotoxic effects of both compounds, as well as their cytoprotection against oxidative stress-induced damage, was also assessed in C2C12 cells. In line with the hypothesis, both compounds restored the level of β-DG and reduced its phosphorylated form without changing basal expression of genes of interest, corroborating a mechanism at post-translational level. The histological profile of gastrocnemius muscle was slightly improved as well as the level of plasma biomarkers. However, amelioration of in vivo and ex vivo functional parameters was modest, with PP2 being more effective than dasatinib. Both compounds reached appreciable levels in skeletal muscle and liver, supporting proper animal exposure. Dasatinib exerted a greater concentration-dependent cytotoxic effect on C2C12 cells than the more selective PP2, while being less protective against H2O2 cytotoxicity, even though at concentrations higher than those experienced during in vivo treatments. Our results support the interest of Src-TK as drug target in dystrophinopathies, although further studies are necessary to assess the therapeutic potential of inhibitors in DMD.


Duchenne muscular dystrophy,Oxidative stress,Preclinical study,Src tyrosine kinase inhibitors,mdx mouse model,